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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. G. More   2 June 1861

Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E.

June 2, 1861.

My dear Sir

I think you told me you had Aceras;1 I see in Babington it flowers in June.2 Would you have the great kindness to send me a few specimens? About the 10th or shortly afterwards I go for my daughter’s sake to Torquay; If you can send me Aceras, and if it be not now in flower, I would write from Torquay, and give my address. If you do actually send me Aceras and some day alight on O. latifolia, would you put in 2 or 3 specimens, but not otherwise. I have been wonderfully lucky in getting orchids, and this morning I examined O. aramifera and O. ustulata.3 Does Habenaria viridis grow in I. of Wight?4 When I get this latter and Aceras I shall have seen all that I can hope for. I presume Cephalanthera ensifolia is hopeless.5 I have had Malaxis and Goodyera, and shall get, I believe O. hircina; so have I not been fortunate? I find in O. aranifera the pollen-masses do not fall out as in Bee-Orchis. If you pass any group of the latter pray glance at a few to see if pollen-masses removed; but I despair of ever making out this species. I hope you will be so kind as to observe manner of ingress and egress of insects, if you can see any visit E. palustris; and whether Labellum is irritable.6 The examination of that species has been one of my greatest treats, which I owe to you. I fear I am very unreasonable; but this subject is a passion with me.

Believe me, my dear Sir, Yours sincerely | C. Darwin.


None of More’s letters to CD, with the exception of one written in 1881, has been found. See, however, the letter to A. G. More, 8 March 1861. Aceras is a genus of orchid whose separation from the genus Orchis, according to CD, ‘is evidently artificial’ (Orchids, p. 19). CD intended to continue his study of the flowering parts of orchids, begun in the summer of 1860, during his approaching holiday in Torquay.
Babington 1851, p. 309. There is an annotated copy of the volume in the Darwin Library–CUL.
These species are described in Orchids, pp. 60–3 and 31–3, respectively. CD thanked George Chichester Oxenden for providing him with fresh specimens of both (ibid., p. 31 n. 61).
CD described Peristylus (or Habenaria) viridis in Orchids, pp. 76–9. More, who lived at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, was apparently unable to send him specimens; CD eventually obtained some from Bingham Sibthorpe Malden (see letter to B. S. Malden, 15–16 June [1861]).
Only Cephalanthera grandiflora is described in Orchids (pp. 104–12).
More did make observations of the visits of insects to Epipactis palustris, the marsh helleborine. In the description of the flower parts of this species, CD stated: ‘So flexible and elastic is the hinge [of the labellum] that the weight of even a fly, as Mr. More informs me, depresses the distal portion’ (Orchids, p. 99).


Babington, Charles Cardale. 1851. Manual of British botany, containing the flowering plants and ferns arranged according to the natural orders. 3d edition. London: John van Voorst.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Asks for specimens of Aceras.

Mentions orchid species he has seen. Asks AGM to make observations.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alexander Goodman More
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146
Physical description
ALS 3pp C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3174,” accessed on 14 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9