To Daniel Oliver 8 June 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
Very many thanks for the orchid, which was new to me & interested me, but by Jove I must stop & go on with confounded dull old subjects. The orchid must be a Catasetum (allied to C. tridentatum) & has no doubt its own Monchanthus.2 The stigmatic surface was more viscid than in the other species examined by me but not viscid enough to break the caudicles. The utriculi & ovules after spirits showed also very little contained pulpy matter: An examination of the tissue or utriculi of stigmas of utterly sterile Hybrids after being kept for 24 or 48 hours in spirits, in comparison with the utriculi of the pure & fertile parent species, would be a point worth attention. But time time time, as you no doubt exclaim with your lectures,3 & as I often exclaim, with my wretched stomach, though having no lectures or other disturbance.
That is a curious monster which you sent with its 2 anthers & 2 rostellums.—
I am glad that you have read my orchis book & seem to approve of it;4 for I never published anything which I so much doubted whether it was worth publishing & indeed I still doubt.5
The subject interested me beyond what, I suppose, it is worth.— Almost every day I get more convinced that insects (in relation to the marriage of distinct flowers) govern the structure of almost every flowers: I have been led, from crossing, to look to Pelargonium, & see how well the 7 anthers stand & face, so that an insect visiting the nectary may take them all; & see the open stigmas in an older flower.—6
Yours very truly | C. Darwin
Describes floral anatomy of a Catasetum sent by DO.
Has gone on from orchids to studying insect agency in Pelargonium.
His doubts on the worth of publishing Orchids.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3592,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3592