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Letter 4398F

Oliver, Daniel to Darwin, C. R.

[28 Jan – 8 Feb 1864]

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    Botanists are obliged to regard tendrils as either leaf- or stem-formations. Vitis, Passiflora, and Clematis are discussed. [See 4398.]


Botanists have no choice but to regard some tendrils as leaf—, & others as stem-formations.

In Vitis there seems no room whatever for a doubt but that the tendril is an axial or stem-structure. Analogy with other plants buildt up of similar sympodia—as they are called—or superimposed axes—& especy the tendency constantly shewn in some vines to bear flowers upon tendrils appear to me to settle their case sufficiently.—

Passiflora is much more perplexing. From analogy I shd. expect the nature of their tendrils to be similar to that of Gourd-tendrils.

Some, however, do look as tho' they might be axillary branches. They may, however, be the modified first leaf of an axilly. (or slightly extra-axilly.) shoot.

I do not recollect seeing any clear discussion about Passion-flower tendrils & have carefully examined them.—

Clematis. The genus Naravelia (close to Clematis) has the terminal leaflet & upper lateral leaflets converted into tendrils like Pea.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 4398f.f1
    The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the enclosure attached to the letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864], and the letter to J. D. Hooker, [8 February 1864].
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    f2 4398f.f2
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and nn. 19--22.
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    f3 4398f.f3
    Sympodium: `An apparent axis or stem in a dichotomously branched plant, made up of the bases of successive branches so arranged as to resemble a simple or monopodial axis' (OED).
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    f4 4398f.f4
    Oliver is comparing Passiflora tendrils with those of gourds, a member of the Cucurbitaceae. For a definition of `axillary', see the letter to David Oliver, 11 March [1864] and n. 7; see also letter from Daniel Oliver, 12 March 1864 and n. 4.
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    f5 4398f.f5
    For CD's eventual conclusions about the genesis of tendrils in the Vitaceae and in the Passifloraceae, which include passion flowers, see letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and n. 20. See also letter from Daniel Oliver, 12 March 1864.
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    f6 4398f.f6
    Clematis and Naravelia were both members of the Ranunculaceae. For a reference by CD to Naravelia, see `Climbing plants', pp. 34, 112.
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