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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-3279

To Daniel Oliver   8 October [1861]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Oct 8th

My dear Sir

I am perfectly ashamed to trouble Hooker again.— Would you have kindness to look at well-opened flower of Stanhopea saccata & see whether any nectar is in hollowed out base or cup of Labellum; or in other species of Stanhopea, if they have hollowed out base or cup to Labellum.—

I have particular reason to enquire; but I daresay the plant will have none, though it ought to have some.—2 But Nature, as Agassiz says, does not lie,3 & therefore it must have nectar,—else a theory of mine is wrong which is clearly impossible!—

In Haste | Ever yours | C. Darwin

Footnotes

1
The year is given by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 6–7 October [1861] and to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 October [1861].
2
The idea that Stanhopea flowers ‘ought’ to have nectar in the base of the labellum is explained in Orchids, pp. 282–3: ‘As in Epipactis the cup at the base of the labellum serves as a nectar-receptacle, I expected to find that the analogous cup in Stanhopea, Acropera, &c., would serve for the same purpose; but I never could find a drop of nectar in it.’
3
CD was fond of quoting this aphorism attributed to Louis Agassiz. See, for example, Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 1 January [1857].

Summary

Asks DO to look for nectar in Stanhopea saccata labellum. CD’s theory predicts nectar should be present, but afraid there is none.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-3279
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Oliver, Daniel
Sent from
Down
Source of text
Down House (MS 10: 31)
Physical description
2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3279,” accessed on 30 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3279

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