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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   [31? October 1860]1

15. M. P. | Eastbourne


My dear Sir

Just received your letter. which I have hardly read—2 I write before morning post, to say, that I did not suppose you would care to look at the movement in Drosera;3 (I am very glad), else I would have told best way, viz to take Hairs lately inflected over a fly, cut off, & put either dry or in water between glass, under high power (14 object) make a sketch of shape of red matter, & look again in 1 or 2 minutes.— There is, also, sometimes a strong circulation in the cells.—   I refer to cells of footstalk of round-headed marginal Hairs—

Yours [illeg] | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letters to Daniel Oliver, 14 October [1860], 17 October [1860], and 20 October [1860], in which CD suggested experiments on Dionaea that Oliver might perform. The letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 23 October 1860], and the letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [October] 1860, indicate that Oliver had not yet mentioned to CD that he intended to undertake such experiments. By the time that CD wrote the letter to Daniel Oliver, 3 November [1860], CD knew that Oliver also intended to look for the ‘moving red matter’ in the cells of Drosera rotundifolia (see n. 3, below).
Oliver’s letter has not been found.
CD had asked Oliver to examine actively functioning cells of Dionaea muscipula in order to substantiate his descriptions of a process that appeared to be connected with the plant’s metabolism. CD told Oliver about a similar process that he had first observed in leaves of Drosera rotundifolia. See letters to Daniel Oliver, 14 October [1860], 17 October [1860], and 20 October [1860].


The best way to see cell movement in Drosera hair, is to cut off those lately inflected over a fly, sketch shape of red matter under high power, and repeat after one or two minutes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
Down House (MS 10: 19)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2952,” accessed on 26 April 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8