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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alexander Goodman More   18 May 1862

Down, Bromley, Kent. [Leith Hill Place]

May 18, 1862

My dear Sir

If you should have leisure and your health should be good, and if again you should feel any little interest on subject, perhaps you would try the experiment on Ep. palustris. Flower should be chosen in middle of spike, and marked by a thread, and when the capsules are nearly ripe, each should be separately folded up in paper; and another capsule from an unmutilated flower close by from same spikes should be gathered and folded up in paper as standard of comparison. I would then endeavour to estimate whether there was any difference in fertility in the flowers possessed of the distal portion of the labellum, and those deprived of it. I should much like to see this point ascertained;1 but of course you must not think of troubling yourself unless you should feel some little curiosity in the subject. Many thanks for your note.2 Pray do not think of acknowledging this

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Of course the distal portion of labellum would have to be removed from flowers not fully expanded.


More lived on the Isle of Wight where Epipactis palustris, the marsh epipactis, was common. CD and More tried this experiment (designed to ascertain the importance of the structure of the labellum) the previous summer, but, as CD reported in Orchids, p. 101 n., the attempt was made too late in the season and the seed capsules More did manage to send shed most of their seed before reaching Down House. See Correspondence vol. 9, letters to A. G. More, 4 June 1861, 7 July 1861, and 19 July 1861. See also this volume, letter from C. W. Crocker, 13 March 1862 and n. 2.
The letter from More has not been found; he may have written to thank CD for his presentation copy of Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).


Asks AGM to experiment on Epipactis palustris.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alexander Goodman More
Sent from
Leith Hill Place Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 146: 404
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3560,” accessed on 17 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10