Discusses difficulties involved in deciding which genera are protean in the light of some comments by H. C. Watson.
Now about Protean genera, and Mr. Watson's very proper discriminations. For want of these discriminations, my hasty list of “variable genera” can be of little use.
As to Mr. Watson's three Categories, the
As to Ranunculus—what I call R. repens (though, I wish I
were surer it is the European sp.) figures as a dozen in books; and where I limit it, I
am not clear about its boundaries, on one side. Several of the other species vary a good
deal, but none are so very proteiform. D
So you must take my list, especially the underscored names, in the rough, as including those genera that I find most difficulty with here, in the complete limitation of the species,—or some of them, either, because of the great variability of a certain species, or the very close approximation of a greater number of species.—
I should say the greater part of those underscored in my list were of the former sort.—excluding, Liatris, Eupatorium, Solidago? Salix, & Populus,—& Carex.
I have not time just now to put my mind on the subject, however, and must close my rambling letter without reading it over.
Kindly give me any remarks that strike you, on reading over my last article,—which I sent you Journal sheets of. Your letters are always most instructive to me, and I only regret I have not the opportunity to think and write more upon the topics they bring up.—
Kindly post the 3 enclosed letters, and believe me to remain
Ever Yours | A. Gray
- f1 2104.f1The date of the letter is conjectured from Gray's reference in letter from Asa Gray, 1 June 1857, to having ‘despatched’ a letter to CD ‘last week’ and from CD's endorsement, which probably records the date of receipt (see CD's annotations).
- f2 2104.f2CD had returned Gray's list of protean genera (letter from Asa Gray, 16 February 1857); he had also sent Hewett Cottrell Watson's comments on this list to Gray (see letters from H. C. Watson, 10 March 1857 and from H. C. Watson to Asa Gray, 13 March 1857).
- f3 2104.f3See letter from H. C. Watson, 10 March 1857.
- f4 2104.f4Francis Boott was a specialist on the genus Carex.
- f5 2104.f5Edward Tuckerman had worked on Potamogeton in 1849 (Tuckerman 1849).
- f6 2104.f6Gray had sent CD the third part of A. Gray 1856–7 (see letter to Asa Gray, 9 May ).
- f7 2104.f7CD refers to the chapter of his species book on ‘Variation under nature’ (Natural selection, pp. 92–171).