To Asa Gray 20 March 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray.
I have very little to say, but will amuse myself by scribbling a few lines to thank you for information in last note of Feb. 9th 2 & to thank you in my dear little man’s name for two precious stamps.3 He told me with joyful triumph that in American stamps he equalled all other collections put together in the school. He exchanged a duplicate Blood’s stamp for a whole lot of treasures.4 He says there is an envelope of same value as the stamps you put on your letter, which would be of value to him.—
I have one request to make for myself, viz seed of Campanula perfoliata: I have tried in vain at Kew & elsewhere for some.—5
I am very glad you like Bates’ paper;6 I expect his Amazonian Travels will be good.7 If you read Lyell’s book, tell me what you think of it;8 I (& Hooker) have told him that we regret much that he did not speak more boldly out about Species.9 He answers that his belief in change fluctuates.—10 His Book has made me reread your essay; & I admire it as much as ever.11 What a dead hand you are in parrying a lounge & transfixing your adversary! You ask about Sprengels “Dichogamy”:12 he means by this a plant in which each flower first matures & sheds its pollen & then has its stigma mature; & much more rarely matures its stigma first & subsequently its pollen: so that these plants are in function monoœcious. I am sure his observations are to large extent correct, & the case is very common.13 In the Primula-like cases the plants are in function Diœcious.—14
A couple of days ago I had an interesting letter from Dr. Cruger of Bot. Gardens of Trinidad,15 & he tells me odd facts of native species (& only native species) of Cattleya &c which never open their flowers, & yet set seed-capsules. Happy man he has actually seen crowds of Bees flying round Catasetum with the pollinia sticking to their backs! I wrote to him to ask him to observe what insects did in flowers of Melastomaceæ;16 he says not proper season yet, but that on one species a small Bee seemed busy about the horn-like appendages to the anthers. It will be too good luck if my study of the flowers in the green-house has led me to right interpretation of these queer appendages.17 By the way, I have just built a hot-house & got some orchids, & it amuses me much.—18 Some plants of Amsinckia spectabilis, at least the seed was so named (small dark orange flowers, elongated hairy leaves) have just begun to flower, & I find in two plants that stigma stands on exact level with anthers; hence I fear they cannot be dimorphic.—19
Your Mitchellas look healthy: I hope they will not flower very soon;20 for my health (& that of my youngest Boy) has been of late so bad, that we have resolved all to go about middle of April for 6 or 8 weeks to Malvern for Water-Cure for me & change for my Boy.—21 It breaks my heart: I shall never get my present Book on Variation under Domestication finished; yet it interests me much & I am now in middle of long chapter on Inheritance Reversion &c, giving results of my own & other Breeders’ Experiments.—22
Good Night.— | My dear Gray | Yours most truly | Ch. Darwin
Many thanks for Pamphlet Chapters on History of war & newspaper just arrived.23
Discusses the meaning of C. K. Sprengel’s term "dichogamy". Dichogamous plants are functionally monoecious; Primula is functionally dioecious.
Reports Hermann Crüger’s observations of Cattleya and of bees pollinating Catasetum. Crüger will observe Melastomataceae.
Has built a hothouse.
Fears Amsinckia cannot be dimorphic.
Ill health slows his work on Variation.