The conversion of Asa Gray must be a pleasure.
CD's doctrine accounts for and gives a vera causa of structures.
Discusses F. Hildebrand's book.
3 Gloucester Terrace
My dear Mr Darwin
Many thanks for your kind note— Such a convert as D
I have just read & re-read with great interest Hildebrands book— It is an excellent framework of the subject & very suggestive. Does he not go too far in suggesting that the marginal florets of many Compositæ have lost their stamens, because, as the stamens come to perfection before the pistils, and the marginal flowers open first, the stamens of the latter would be often useless? If there were but one flower head on a plant & but one plant in a district this might be so— But considering the infinite number of flower heads & plants contemporaneous with & suceeding one another, within any district; and considering too the probable advantage of crossing with other plants, there can be very few male florets on any plant which would not advantageously give pollen for some capable females.
Hildebrand has a capital description of Viola Tricolor, which would almost do for V. Cornuta. But in the latter the spur & anther-tails are much longer, & I think that these tails are of much use—, since when agitated by the proboscis of the insect in the spur they shake the stiff anther tube, & make the pollen fall out on the back of the lower extremity of the proboscis. It is something like the effect of the anther tails in Erica when a bee shaking the flower, jars them against the corolla.
But I will not say more about Viola, until I can get some more flowers of V. Odorata.
What a long story I have written, when I only meant to thank you— Mrs Wedgwood tells me you will be in Queen Anne Street soon & I hope there to see you
Believe me | Sincerely yours | T H Farrer
C Darwin Esq FRS
- f1 6445.f1See letter to T. H. Farrer, 29 October .
- f2 6445.f2CD had recommended Friedrich Hildebrand's monograph on sexual division in plants (Hildebrand 1867a) in his letter to Farrer of 19 September .
- f3 6445.f3See Hildebrand 1867a, p. 28.
- f4 6445.f4Farrer refers to Viola tricolor (heartsease or wild pansy) and V. cornuta (the horned violet). See Hildebrand 1867a, pp. 53--6.
- f5 6445.f5Erica is the genus of heathers.
- f6 6445.f6Viola odorata is the sweet violet.
- f7 6445.f7Farrer refers to Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood and to the London address of CD's brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin. CD stayed at 6 Queen Anne Street from 7 to 16 November 1868 (see `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).