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Letter 3720

Darwin, C. R. to Oliver, Daniel

14 Sept [1862]

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    Asks DO to name enclosed Lythrum received from CD's sister-in-law [Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood]


Cliff Cottage | Bournemouth

Sept. 14th.

Dear Oliver

My sister-in-law sent me several specimens dried of Lythrum hyssopifolium to compare with the fresh specimen, which you kindly sent me, & amongst them was the enclosed: it is clearly not L. hyssopifolium or L. salicaria: it has 12 stamens, large petals, smooth calyx, & flowers not in whorls. Could you find out its name? I fancy the genus is not large. It is a European specimen. The specimen sent answers to the ``short-styled'' in L. salicaria, but differs in many important respects. The stigma of ``mid-styled'' would not project beyond the calyx, & this perhaps led old Vaucher (who always blunders when that is possible) to assert that some species are dimorphic like Primula. It would be a very interesting aid to me if you could name this species for me, & at same time, when you find the specimens in the Herbarium, (if the species be not rare) pluck off a single young unopened flower from a few specimens, as I shd. very much wish to compare the pollen of the two sets of anthers in the ``long-styled'' or ``mid-styled'' form of this new species.

I hope you will not think me very unreasonable to ask all this; for I hope & believe that the species of Lythrum are not numerous; & I have been much perplexed, how any of the species could be dimorphic, as old Vaucher says.—

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 3720.f1
    The year is established by CD's reference to having received dried specimens of Lythrum hyssopifolia from Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood (see n. 2, below).
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    f2 3720.f2
    The reference is to Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood; in DAR 27.2 (ser. 2): 14, there is a note by CD, dated 8 September 1862, which records: Elizabeth sent me 3 specs of L. hyssopifolia from different countries   these all agreed with Kew specimens; so that I have seen 4 specimens. *very improbably [del] *This species is probably not [interl] dimorphic.— These specimens are preserved in DAR 142 in a wrapper marked `Lythrum hyssopifolium from Elizabeth from 3 countries.—' Oliver had sent CD specimens of L. hyssopifolia from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with his letter of 4 September 1862; CD's notes on those specimens are in DAR 27.2 (ser. 2): 17.
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    f3 3720.f3
    Oliver's reply to this letter has not been found. However, in DAR 21.2 (ser. 2): 14, CD noted: E. sent me a 4th spec. *of L Graefferi (named at Kew) [interl] with larger leaves & larger petals & longer flowers than L. hyssopifolia; & differing quite in narrow smooth *& longer [interl] calyx from L. salicaria.— The specimen is preserved in DAR 142 in a wrapper marked `Elizabeth W'; this was preserved, together with several other specimens of Lythrum Graefferi, in an envelope addressed to CD by Oliver, postmarked 16 September 1862, and annotated by CD `Lythrum Graefferi' (Calendar no. 13891f). See also letter to Daniel Oliver, [17 September 1862] and n. 2.
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    f4 3720.f4
    Vaucher 1841, 2: 371.
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    f5 3720.f5
    See letter to Daniel Oliver, [17 September 1862] and n. 3.
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