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Letter 2941

Darwin, C. R. to Oliver, Daniel

[29 Sept 1860]

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    Requests Dionaea now that he knows Drosera so well. Wants to compare fluids secreted; in Drosera they are acid and have antiseptic effect on meat.


15 Marine Parade | Eastbourne


My dear Sir

I really thought that I should give no more trouble. But I have strongest wish to observe structure of Dionæa, now that I know Drosera so well. Is it a very precious plant? Could a living plant be packed so as to come here by Railway & could I keep it alive for week or two in sitting room? If so, would you be so kind as to give me address of any nurseryman where I could purchase a plant. Or if there are several plants at Kew, would you read this note to Sir William & ask him whether he could lend me a plant, which should be returned (carriage free) to Kew; but I should require to gather & dissect some leaves. I want to compare structure of hairs of Dionæa & Drosera, & especially to see whence the fluid is secreted in Dionæa, which is said to bathe the flies caught by it.

The fluid in Drosera is acid & has curious antiseptic powers on meat. Pray forgive me. I would just as soon purchase as borrow: I only mention Kew in case the plant is not to be easily purchased & in case of there being several plants at Kew. How I should like to see a fly caught by it!

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2941.f1
    Dated by the relationship to the letter to Daniel Oliver, 5 October [1860]. The Saturday before 5 October 1860 was 29 September.
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    f2 2941.f2
    CD had inquired about Dionaea muscipula, or the Venus's fly-trap, earlier in the month. See letter to Daniel Oliver, 11 September [1860].
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    f3 2941.f3
    William Jackson Hooker was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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