The extraordinary malformations known as Witches Brooms, caused by the repeated branching and tufting of twigs in which the mycelium of Exoascus (on birch) or Aecidium (on silver fir) are living, may be borne in considerable ntimbers for years without any very extensive apparent injury to the tree.
Irritation and hypertrophy of cells are common signs of the presence of parasites, as ovinced by the numerous malformations, galls, witches-brooms, &c., on diseased plants.
Under the head of malformations we place cases of atrophy of parts or general dwarfing, due to starvation, the attacks of Fungi or minute insects, the presence of unsuitable food-materials and so on, as well as cases of transformation of stamens into petals, carpels into leaves, and so forth.
Malformations of the pelvis, accidental injuries and the diseases and displacements to which the uterus is liable, on the one hand; and, on the other, various morbid conditions of the ovum or placenta leading to the death of the foetus, are among the direct local causes.
Darwin was well aware that variation ranged from differences so minute as to become apparent only on careful measurement to those large departures from the normal which may be called abnormalities, malformations or monstrosities.