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Letter 3174

Darwin, C. R. to More, A. G.

2 June 1861

    Summary Add

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    Asks for specimens of Aceras.

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    Mentions orchid species he has seen. Asks AGM to make observations.


Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E.

June 2, 1861.

My dear Sir

I think you told me you had Aceras; I see in Babington it flowers in June. Would you have the great kindness to send me a few specimens? About the 10th or shortly afterwards I go for my daughter's sake to Torquay; If you can send me Aceras, and if it be not now in flower, I would write from Torquay, and give my address. If you do actually send me Aceras and some day alight on O. latifolia, would you put in 2 or 3 specimens, but not otherwise. I have been wonderfully lucky in getting orchids, and this morning I examined O. aramifera and O. ustulata. Does Habenaria viridis grow in I. of Wight? When I get this latter and Aceras I shall have seen all that I can hope for. I presume Cephalanthera ensifolia is hopeless. I have had Malaxis and Goodyera, and shall get, I believe O. hircina; so have I not been fortunate? I find in O. aranifera the pollen-masses do not fall out as in Bee-Orchis. If you pass any group of the latter pray glance at a few to see if pollen-masses removed; but I despair of ever making out this species. I hope you will be so kind as to observe manner of ingress and egress of insects, if you can see any visit E. palustris; and whether Labellum is irritable. The examination of that species has been one of my greatest treats, which I owe to you. I fear I am very unreasonable; but this subject is a passion with me.

Believe me, my dear Sir, Yours sincerely | C. Darwin.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 3174.f1
    None of More's letters to CD, with the exception of one written in 1881, has been found. See, however, the letter to A. G. More, 8 March 1861. Aceras is a genus of orchid whose separation from the genus Orchis, according to CD, `is evidently artificial' (Orchids, p. 19). CD intended to continue his study of the flowering parts of orchids, begun in the summer of 1860, during his approaching holiday in Torquay.
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    f2 3174.f2
    Babington 1851, p. 309. There is an annotated copy of the volume in the Darwin Library--CUL.
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    f3 3174.f3
    These species are described in Orchids, pp. 60--3 and 31--3, respectively. CD thanked George Chichester Oxenden for providing him with fresh specimens of both (ibid., p. 31 n. 61).
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    f4 3174.f4
    CD described Peristylus (or Habenaria) viridis in Orchids, pp. 76--9. More, who lived at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, was apparently unable to send him specimens; CD eventually obtained some from Bingham Sibthorpe Malden (see letter to B. S. Malden, 15--16 June [1861]).
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    f5 3174.f5
    Only Cephalanthera grandiflora is described in Orchids (pp. 104--12).
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    f6 3174.f6
    More did make observations of the visits of insects to Epipactis palustris, the marsh helleborine. In the description of the flower parts of this species, CD stated: `So flexible and elastic is the hinge [of the labellum] that the weight of even a fly, as Mr. More informs me, depresses the distal portion' (Orchids, p. 99).
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