States he has "misgivings about the definiteness of species". Believes there is some inherent tendency for plants to originate varieties. Cross-fertilisation is likely in most cases but sees difficulties with plants like Adlumia.
No one can have worked at systematic botany as long as I have, without having many
misgivings about the definiteness of species. My notions about
varieties are I believe just what you would have them See Sill. Jour. Sci.
Jan. 1856. p. 136.: i.e. I believe every
constitutional variety has a strong tendency to be perpetuated by seed, and the
Here you begin then with good, tangible facts; and I am greatly interested to see what is to be made out of them. First, can you get at the law of variation? or throw any <section missing>
There is a good deal of fertilization in the bud, in various plants.
I must look at Kidney beans in view of what you say.
As to Fumariaceæ, I can't imagine how, in Adlumia for instance, insects can get at the pollen very well, and still less how they can take any to the stigma of other blossoms.
But in most cases cross-fertilization seems a most likely thing to happen—
Kindly post the enclosed. I write in greatest haste, and am, with the highest regard
Ever Yours most faithfully | A. Gray
- f1 2129.f1This letter falls between the letters to Asa Gray, 20 July  and 5 September .
- f2 2129.f2Gray is responding to CD's letter to Asa Gray, 20 July , in which CD revealed his belief in the transmutation of species.
- f3 2129.f3Gray added this reference to A. Gray 1856b in the margin of the letter in pencil.
- f4 2129.f4See the earlier discussion of this point in the letter to Asa Gray, 18 June , and the letter from Asa Gray, 7 July 1857.
- f5 2129.f5See letter to Asa Gray, 20 July .
- f6 2129.f6The chapter numbers refer to chapter 3, ‘On the possibility of all organic beings occasionally crossing’, and chapter 4, ‘Variation under nature’, of CD's species book (Natural selection, pp. 35–91, 95–171).