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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   19 April 1880

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

April 19th. 1880

My dear Gray

It was very good of you to send me Mr. Rattan’s letter which has interested me extremely. I suppose that I may give some of his statements. It seems almost certain that the protection of the plumule from frost has determined the curious mode of germination; & this agrees well with the drawing down in winter of so many seedlings by the contraction of their radicles. But I still think the protection of the enlarged roots from being devoured is probably a secondary advantage thus gained. The “crocks” explain the behaviour in your first case.

What a curious fact of Mr. Rattan’s,—that of the confluent petioles growing out horizontally without coming into contact with the bottom of the shallow box. From what I have observed with other seedlings I believe I understand the cause, but it is too long a story. I wish I had a score of germinating seeds to experimentise on.—

Very many thanks for P. Card about roots of Ipomœa leptophylla: I have tried in vain to get seeds of I. pandurata from Kew.

Ever yours very truly | Ch. Darwin

Mr Rattan seems to be a real good observer, & that is a rare species of animal.—


Thanks for the letter from Volney Rattan [see 12553].

Discusses protective adaptation of seedlings from frost.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (BANC MSS 74/78 z)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12582,” accessed on 21 May 2018,