To J. D. Hooker 1 July 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I write to say how truly I think you the best of men for proposing to pay us a visit this summer, I shall most truly & heartily enjoy it. In a few weeks time we shall know our plans better, as Etty & our Boys holidays make everything doubtful I am alone at present Emma visiting some relations with a tail of six children!2 I am very sorry to hear about G. Henslow: an attack of religion is a most serious thing: the whole affair must be a great disappointment to you.—3
Thanks for your interesting note about embryonic leaves: after I had sent it, I began to think about cotyledons, & marvelled that I could not remember having ever read any discussion on their resemblances & dissimilarities in allied plants. How curious that the subject shd never have been taken up! I do not even know whether functions of the cotyledons are same as leaves, or whether they serve, also, as receptacle of nutriment: I have noticed in my weed-garden that their destruction seems always to kill the plant.— I was speculating in my ignorance that the form of cotyledon was probably related to the shape of seed & its embryo & radicle; & if this were so, as seeds are adapted to various contingencies, we might expect the cotyledons to differ; but probably this is not the case, as it wd. have occurred to you. I am not learned enough in animal embryology to compare cotyledons with amnios &c &c.—
If cotyledons have a relation to the external conditions of existence distinct or partially different from what the leaves of the mature plant have to the conditions, I think the differences of the cotyledons in the same Family, would be explicable in the same way as in some Diptera & some Neuroptera, there is a wonderful amount of difference in the larvæ:— no doubt these larvæ have much in common, & so I presume the cotyledons have much in common.
I have had another letter from Asa Gray: most kindly he has worked out trees of U. States & finds out of 132, 95 have sexes more or less separate (= .72); so that the Rule seems here to hold good whether or no my explanation is correct.4
Farewell | My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin
George Henslow’s curtness to JDH: "an attack of religion".
Embryonic leaves. Adaptive functions and taxonomic significance of cotyledons.
Asa Gray. Separation of sexes in U. S. trees.