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Darwin Correspondence Project


From M. J. Berkeley   7 March 1856

My dear Sir/

All that I did about the seeds was done at the suggestion of Dr Hooker entirely to forwar〈d〉 your views, and the little that I was able to ascertain is entirely at your service.1 I think I should arrange the families as they appear in Lindleys Vegetable Kingdom.2 It is best to have some definite order. The Corn salad consists of different species of Fedia. I cannot tell you what particular species or supposed species. The Aubergine is a variety of Solanum Melongena. The Kidney bean I tried was the dwarf Belgian Phaseolus vulgaris. It is very possible that the change of seed in the Sugar Peas may be due to mere variation and not to impregnation.3 The subject is not capable of solution from one or two Experiments. The mottled seeds last year produced grey, red & other colored peas. A few only came quite true. But I cannot say that the change is from impregnation of their neighbours. The white sugar peas come more true than the mottled ones, but they vary in tint. I have not got Gærtners book to refer to.4

I am so busy this year with my Introduction to Crypt. Bot that I have no time for gardening.5

Do you know the Rawsons at Bromley?6 Mrs Rawsons brother lives here and has married my neice.

I am very truly yours M J Berkeley.—

I should be glad of two or three of the Black Peas King’s Cliff | March 7. 1856.

Two or three red peas sowed by themselves produced mottled peas.

CD annotations

crossed pencil
cross added brown crayon
crossed pencil
Top of first page: ‘14’7 brown crayon; ‘[illeg]brown crayon
Verso of last page: ‘Vibrio in Agrostis’8 pencil


Berkeley refers to his experiments on the immersion of seeds in sea-water. See letter to M. J. Berkeley, 29 February [1856].
Lindley 1846. In his paper, CD stated: ‘I have arranged the families in accordance with Lindley’s “Vegetable Kingdom.” ’ (Collected papers 1: 268).
See letter to M. J. Berkeley, 29 February [1856] and n. 7.
Gärtner 1849.
Berkeley 1857.
Arthur and Charlotte Elizabeth Rawson are not listed in CD’s Address book (Down House MS).
The number of one of CD’s portfolios of notes.
See Correspondence vol. 5, letter to J. S. Henslow, 7 July [1855].

Letter details

Letter no.
Berkeley, M. J.
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
King’s Cliffe
Source of text
DAR 160: 174
Physical description
2pp †


Reports on breeding experiments with various seeds: corn, aubergine, kidney beans, sugar-peas. Speculates that cause of changes in seed colour in sugar-peas may be mere variation rather than result of impregnation.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1836,” accessed on 26 May 2016,