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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. A. Gammie   16 February 1874

Government of | India

Note for Mr. Darwin

The flowers of Hedychium Gardnerianum are much frequented by Sphinx moths.1 I discovered this six or seven years ago, and ever since, in the season, have taken advantage of the discovery, to obtain sphinxes, by bringing a few heads of Hedychium flowers to my open verandah for the purpose of attracting these creatures, and immediately after dusk several were sure to make their appearance and hover about the flowers. I did not observe that the tips of these insects wings were bedaubed with pollen, but as I did not direct my attention to this particular point, they may have been so without my observing it— I cannot at present, with absolute certainty, send specimens of Sphinxes actually caught on the Hedychium Gardnerianum, but when the season comes round again shall secure, and forward specimens—

J. Gammie | Govt. Cinchona Plantations | Darjeeling—

Mongpoo2 | 16-2-74


This letter was probably enclosed with the letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 March 1874. No letter from CD to Gammie has been found. CD was interested in the pollination of Hedychium by the wings of moths (see letter to Hermann Müller, 7 August 1876 (Calendar no. 10572), also published in LL 3: 283). Sphinx moths are moths of the genus Sphinx. Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili ginger or the Kahila garland-lily) is native to the Himalayas. See also letter from J. A. Gammie, 28 August 1874.
Also spelled Mangpu.


Sends his observations on the fertilisation of Hedychium gardnerianum by sphinx moths. Did not look for pollen on the wing tips.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Alexander Gammie
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Monarpur, Darjeeling
Source of text
DAR 157a: 98
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9296A,” accessed on 21 September 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22