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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Mary Treat   15 May 1876

Green Cove Spring, Fla.

May 15, 1876.

Dear Mr. Darwin—

Your most welcome letter was forwarded me from Vineland.1 I am staying here longer than I had anticipated, in order to make good and abundant specimens of the water lily to which I refered in my last letter to you.2 It did not commence blooming until about the first of May. It seems that Audubon found and figured this yellow lily in his book of birds of the South, but Prof Sargent—Director of the Garden at Harvard—tells me that “botanists had generally considered it a poetic fancy of the author, rather than a true delineation of nature”, so it was not mentioned in any of our books of Botany.3 You may imagine how delighted they are at Harvard to get this lily. I shipped them a box of roots some time ago, and now word has come for 500 more roots. Dr. Gray has already sent a plant by mail to Dr. Hooker, and I will be pleased to send him pressed specimens if he would like.4

Yes, I received your book on “Insectivorous Plants”, and thought I had acknowledged its receipt.5 I was so fascinated with it that I sat up nearly all night before I could lay it down.

I think I have proven that the valve of Utricularia is sensitive, I will leave you to judge when you read the article. I have written to the Editor of the Magazine to forward you a copy, and it will probably reach you shortly after this letter.6

I saw a large number of mosquito larvae caught in the valve with their heads left sticking out, and I put a great many such specimens in alcohol intending to send them to you, but my departure for Florida was quite unexpected, and I left them behind. If you would like them I will send when I return to Vineland.— The drawing of the mosquito larva (and the way it was caught) was made by Prof. C. V. Riley, from specimens I sent him.7

I have been at work on Sarracenia variolaris, for some time past; it seems to me to be the most wonderful of all our insectivorous plants. My account of this will also be published in Harper’s Magazine.8

Dr. Gray asked me to publish the Sarracenia article in the American Naturalist, and you may wonder at my selecting a literary Magazine rather than a scientific one, but I am wholly dependent upon my own exertions, and must go where they pay best.

I start for the north tomorrow, it is very warm here—like July and August at the north.

Most sincerely yours, | Mary Treat.


Sends her article on Utricularia ["Is the valve of Utricularia sensitive?", Harper’s New Mon. Mag. 52 (1875): 382–7].

Proposes to write on Sarracenia ["Carnivorous plants of Florida", Harper’s New Mon. Mag. 53 (1876): 546–8, 710–14].

Letter details

Letter no.
Mary Lua Adelia (Mary) Treat
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Green Cove Spring, Fla.
Source of text
DAR 178: 179
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10508,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24