More comments on "Insular floras": community of peculiar genera in the Atlantic islands descended from European plants now extinct.
My dear Hooker
Thanks for your jolly letter. We are both heartily rejoiced,
& this not in a parenthesis, that M
I did suggest to you to work out proportion of plants with irregular flowers on islands; I did this after giving a very short discussion on irregular flowers in my Lythrum paper. But what on earth has a mere suggestion like this to do with meum & tuum?
You have comforted me much about the bigness of my book, which yet turns me sick when I think of it.
yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin | (Signed, whilst my wife writes)
We shall be anxious to hear of M
yours very sincerely | E. D
- f1 5361.f1Letter from J. D. Hooker, [12 January 1867].
- f2 5361.f2CD refers to Frances Harriet Hooker and the birth of her son, Reginald Hawthorn Hooker; Hooker announced the event in a parenthetical statement in his letter of [12 January 1867].
- f3 5361.f3The second of the four parts of Hooker's article on insular floras (J. D. Hooker 1866a) appeared in the Gardeners' Chronicle, 12 January 1867, p. 27. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January , n. 1.
- f4 5361.f4Alexander von Humboldt wrote that he had seen Viola cheiranthifolia, which resembled V. decumbens, growing on the Peak of Tenerife (Humboldt 1814--29, 1: 183 and 273); the violet, commonly known as the Teide violet, is found only in Tenerife at altitudes up to 3500 m. CD evidently thought that the V. decumbens that Humboldt referred to was a Pyrenean species. For CD's earlier reference to alpine plants on Tenerife, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January .
- f5 5361.f5Humboldt remarked that Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the two Canary islands lying closest to Africa, resembled Africa in climate and vegetation more than the other islands did (Humboldt 1814--29, 1: 123, 274). In his paper, Hooker wrote that though the Canary Islands were closer to Africa than Madeira was, the flora of the Canary Islands was not African, and contained `comparatively very few of the plants of that continent'; he also wrote that the least numerous group of plants on the Canaries was `a sprinkling of African plants' belonging to a division he called Arabo-Saharan (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 27).
- f6 5361.f6See Origin, pp. 397--9, 403--6. See also Correspondence vol. 14, letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 July  and 3 and 4 August . In the margin of his copy of J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 27 (Cory Library, Cambridge Botanic Garden), CD wrote, `I suppose you look at whole Atlantic ['Flora` del] genera as having been common to Europe', and `& most on is'd from continents'.
- f7 5361.f7Hooker wrote that the Salvages, a group of rocky Atlantic islets, supported an Atlantic flora intermediate between that of Madeira and the Canaries, and surmised that, before subsiding, the islands had occupied an important botanical and geographical position in the Atlantic Ocean, `more or less closely linking the Canaries with Madeira' (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 27). See Origin, p. 410.
- f8 5361.f8Hooker described the destruction of the indigenous flora on St Helena, first by the introduction of goats and then by the introduction of exotic plants (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 27). He attempted to reconstruct the original flora by collating two herbarium collections, and cautiously surmised that it had primarily African affinities, with some Indian and American plants, and was therefore unique and interesting. Hooker noted that probably 100 plants had disappeared (ibid.):
Every one of these was a link in the chain of created beings, which contained within itself evidence of the affinities of other species, both living and extinct, but which evidence is now irrecoverably lost. If such be the fate of organisms that lived in our day, what folly it must be to found theories on the assumed perfection of a geological record which has witnessed revolutions in the vegetation of the globe, to which that of the Flora of St Helena is as nothing.CD alludes to his conviction of the long-term viability of seeds; for Hooker's initial scepticism and guarded change of mind, see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to Gardeners' Chronicle, 13 November , and letters to J. D. Hooker, 14 November , [23 November 1855], and 9 [December 1855] and nn. 1 and 3. For CD's belief in the viability of seeds in pond mud and seawater, see Origin, pp. 386--8, 358--60.
- f9 5361.f9See letter from J. D. Hooker, [12 January 1867]. In his letter to Hooker of 7 January  (Correspondence vol. 13), CD suggested that Hooker compare the number of plants with irregular flowers in New Zealand with the number in England. CD briefly mentioned his view of the relationship between insect pollination and the structure of irregular flowers in `Three forms of Lythrum salicaria', pp. 175--6 (Collected papers 2: 111--12).
- f10 5361.f10CD refers to Variation (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [12 January 1867]).
- f11 5361.f11Emma Darwin wrote the postscript, inquiring after Frances Harriet Hooker (see n. 2, above).