The purpose of these lectures is to point out the means and methods by which the origin of species and varieties may become an object for experimental inquiry, in the interest of agricultural and horticultural practice as well as in that of general biologic science. Comparative studies have contributed all the evidence hitherto adduced for the support of the Darwinian theory of descent and given us some general ideas about the main lines of the pedigree of the vegetable kingdom, but the way in which one species originates from another has not been adequately explained. The current belief assumes that species are slowly changed into new types. In contradiction to this conception the theory of mutation assumes that new species and varieties are produced from existing forms by sudden leaps. The parent-type itself remains unchanged throughout this process, and may repeatedly give birth to new forms. These may arise simultaneously and in groups or separately at more or less widely distant periods.