To John Scott 16 February 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
Absence from home has prevented me answering you sooner.2 I should think that the capsule of Acropera had better be left till it shews some signs of opening, as our object is to judge whether the seeds are good; but I should prefer trusting to your better judgment.3 I am interested about the Gongora which I hope hereafter to try myself as I have just built a small hot-house.—4
Asa Gray’s observations on the Rostellum of Gymnadenia are very imperfect, yet worth looking at.5 Your case of Imatophyllum is most interesting; even if the sport does not flower it will be worth my giving.6 I did not understand, or I had forgotten, that a single frond on a fern will vary; I now see that the case does come under bud-variation & must be given by me.7 I had thought of it only as proof inheritance in Cryptogams; I am much obliged for your correction & will consult again your paper & Mr Bridgeman’s.8
I enclose vars. of Maize from Asa Gray.9 Pray do not thank me for trusting you: the thanks ought to go the other way: I felt a conviction after your first letter that you were a real lover of Natural History.10 If you can advance good evidence shewing that bi-sexual plants are more variable than uni-sexual, it will be interesting.11 I shall be very glad to read the discussion which you are preparing.12 I admit as fully as any one can do that cross-impregnation is the great check to endless variability; but I am not sure that I understand your view. I do not believe that the structure of Primula has any necessary relation to a tendency to a Diœcious structure; but seeing the difference in the fertility of the two forms, I felt bound unwillingly to admit that they might be a step towards Diœciousness; I allude to this subject in my Linum paper.13 Thanks for your answers to my other queries. I forgot to say that I was at Kew the other day, & I find that they can give me Capsules of several Vanda14
Will you present my compliments to Mr Macnab & ask him whether he has ever sown seeds of any weeping trees; & if so whether he would have the kindness to inform me how far this character was inherited.15 I am much pressed with letters & have therefore written as briefly as I could—
Pray believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch Darwin
When Acropera-pod is sent please register it in an old match-box, & I enclose stamps; as I have no right to trouble you with my whim to make the capsule extra safe—
Small red or white wd. be good to cross with large other-coloured kinds; if you can force forward the latter.16
A. Gray unfortunately does not name any of the maize: but calls the small grain “precocious northern form good for popping”; & I imagine the transparent grains are the “sweet corn” with starch replaced by glucose.—17
You had better tally them by colour & size & say how all are N. U. States—
Tells JS Acropera capsule should be left to grow.
JS was correct on "bud-variation" in fern frond.
Does not believe Primula structure necessarily related to dioecism, but the difference in fertility of the two forms forced him to admit the possibility.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3991,” accessed on 13 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3991