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Darwin Correspondence Project


From Daniel Oliver   25 November 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

25. XI. 62

My dear Sir

Two forms of Epilobium angustifolium are described in the English Floras—a short & long capsuled form.—1 But my attention was attracted to their possible dimorphism by a M.S. note of Mr. Babington’s—in the herb. of the late Mr. Borrer.—2 Mr Babn. writes (in 1841) stating that he had received specimens of the E. macrocarpum described by Stephens (Ann. Nat. Hist. viii. 170)3 & that he thinks it is E. angustifolium producing seed for—he says “I suspect that the ‘short turgid pods’ of E. angustifolium do not ripen their seed”.—4

More about these forms is written in the same vol. of the Annals.5

I must look again at the paper on Strawberries in the Museum copy of the Technologist6 & if it seem worthwhile have it sent down to you along with the Gardens copy of Hooker’s Journal containing the Linum paper.7

I shewed your note to Dr. Hooker.8

Very sincerely yours | Danl. Oliver

Chas. Darwin Esq

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘The case wd. concern me if everywhere the two forms appear— | See about Babington | case of Stellaria (?) graminea.—’9 pencil
End of letter, ink: ‘Vol. 8 | p. 246—further information on do.10 p. 401 | p. 403’


See letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862], and letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [November 1862].
William Borrer died in January 1862, leaving his herbarium to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (DNB); the reference is to Charles Cardale Babington.
Stephens 1841. There is an annotated copy of the volume of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History containing this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL.
In his paper, Henry Oxley Stephens claimed that the name Epilobium angustifolium had been applied to two distinct species, the second of which he proposed to call E. macrocarpum. William Allport Leighton, who supported this identification, sent Borrer his descriptions for comment, before publishing an account in December 1841 (Leighton 1841). In a letter from Babington to Borrer of 12 November 1841, which is reproduced in A. M. Babington ed. 1897, pp. 284–5, Babington stated: From what you said in your letter I have again examined the Epilobium angustifolium, but am unable to see any real distinction between the two forms … I presume that Leighton is not prepared to separate the two plants, or we should have heard more about it before this time.
Leighton 1841 and 1842. There is an annotated copy of the volume of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History containing this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL. See also letter to W. A. Leighton, 26 November [1862].
Wray 1861a. See letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [November 1862] and n. 8.
Oliver refers to Planchon 1847–8, which appeared in volumes 6 and 7 of the London Journal of Botany; after 1848 the journal was called Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany after its editor, William Jackson Hooker (BUCOP). See letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [November 1862] and n. 10.
Joseph Dalton Hooker. See letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [November 1862].
See letter from C. C. Babington, 17 January 1862, and letter to C. C. Babington, 20 January [1862].
These are references to additional articles on Epilobium angustifolium in volume 8 of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History (see n. 3, above).


Informs CD of possible dimorphism of Epilobium angustifolium.

Letter details

Letter no.
Oliver, Daniel
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 111 (ser. 2): 61–2
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3828,” accessed on 24 October 2016,