To John Scott 20 [February 1863]1
Down Bromley Kent
What a magnificent capsule & good Heavens what a number of seed!2 I never before opened pod of larger orchids. It did not signify a few seed being lost, as it would be hopeless to estimate number in comparison with other species.—3 If you sow any, had you not better sow a good many?4 so I enclose small packet.—
I have looked at seeds: I never saw in British orchid nearly so many empty testæ; but this goes for nothing as unnatural conditions wd. account for it. I suspect, however from variable size & transparency that a good many of the seeds when dry (& I have put capsule on my chimney piece) will shrivel up. So I will wait for a month or two till I get capsule of some large Vandeæ for comparison.—5
It is more likely that I have made some dreadful blunder about Acropera than that it shd be male not yet a perfect male.6 May there be some sexual relation between A. Loddigesii & luteola; they seem very close? I shd. very much like to examine capsule of unimpregnated flower of A. Loddigesii.— I have got both species from Kew; but whether we shall have skill to flower them I know not— One conjecture that that it is imperfect male, I still shd. incline to think it would produce by seed both sexes.—7 But you are right about Primula (& a very acute thought it was) the long-styled P. Sinensis homorphically fertilised with own-form pollen, has produced during two successive homomorphic generations only long styled plants.—8 The short-styled the same ie produced short-styled for 2 generations with exception of a single plant.— 9
I cannot say about cowslip yet.—10
I shd. like to hear your case of the Primula: is it certainly propagated by seed?11
My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin
Thanks JS for the very large Acropera capsule. CD has perhaps made a blunder about the sex of Acropera.
JS was right that successive homomorphic generations of Primula breed true.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4003,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4003