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 9 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4003