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Letter 3421

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

30 Jan [1862]

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    Summary Add

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    Is JDH sure it is a Bletia, just received? Its pollen very different from any Epidendreæ he has seen. If it is Bletia, Lindley's grand divisions are fanciful.

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    Accepts JDH's offer to collect cases of dimorphism.

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    James Bateman has sent a lot of orchids with Angraecum sesquipedale. What a proboscis the moth that sucks its 11½ inch nectary must have!



Jan 30th

My dear Hooker

I received the Bletia this morning, rather dry from paper-Box.— I suppose that you are sure it is a Bletia for its pollen is very different from that of any of the Epidendreæ which I have seen, & agrees with description of that of the Arethuseæ. If it be a Bletia, by Jove, Lindley's grand divisions are not a little fanciful. I shall be astounded if the distinction from state of pollen alone can make good main divisions.

I have not written since your note of Saturday, in which you offer to collect cases of Dimorphism: I shd. not wish you to take trouble on purpose; but if you would make a note of any cases on which you stumble, I shd. be very glad. The cases of Balsamineæ, Violaceæ &c, I believe to be widely different from that of Primula.—

You allude to Caryophyllaceæ; I shd. in this one instance like soon to hear to what you allude.—

I have been very sorry to hear about Busk.—

Bateman has just sent me a lot of orchids with the Angræcum sesquipedale: do you know its marvellous nectary 1112 inches long, with nectar only at the extremity. What a proboscis the moth that sucks it, must have! It is a very pretty case.

Farewell | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 3421.f1
    The year is established by the reference to George Busk's accident (see n. 5, below).
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    f2 3421.f2
    John Lindley divided the Orchidaceae into seven tribes distinguished principally by the nature of the anthers and pollen-masses (Lindley 1853, p. 179). CD had expressed dissatisfaction with Lindley's classification system in his letter to J. D. Hooker, 18 [December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9); he made similar comments in Orchids, p. 159. CD referred to the pollen-masses of Bletia in Orchids, p. 162 n.
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    f3 3421.f3
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [and 26] January [1862], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1862].
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    f4 3421.f4
    For Hooker's reply, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 January -- 8 February 1862].
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    f5 3421.f5
    George Busk broke his arm on the evening of 20 January 1862 (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1862], and from J. E. Gray, 29 January 1862).
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    f6 3421.f6
    CD had already told Hooker about the box of orchids sent by James Bateman (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [and 26] January [1862]). See also letter from Robert Bateman, [28 January 1862].
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