To John Scott 12 April 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I really hardly know how to thank you enough for your very interesting letter.2 I shall certainly use all the facts which you have given me (in a condensed form) on the sterility of orchids in the work which I am now slowly preparing for publication.—3 But why do you not publish these facts in a separate little paper? they seem to me well worth it, & you really ought to get your name known.4 I could equally well use them in my Book. I earnestly hope that you will experiment on Passiflora, & let me give your results.5
Dr. A. Grays observations were made loosely, he said in letter he would attend this summer further to the case, which clearly surprised him much.—6 I will say nothing about the Rostellum, stigmatic utriculi, fertility of Acropera & Catasetum, for I am completely bewildered:7 it will rest with you to settle these points by your excellent observations & experiments.— I must own I never could help doubting Dr. Hooker’s case of the Poppy.—8 You may like to hear what I have seen this morning: I found a Primrose plant with flowers having 3 pistils, which when pulled asunder without any tearing, allowed pollen to be placed on ovules. This I did with 3 flowers— pollen tubes did not protrude after several days. But this day, the sixteenth (N.B Primulas seem naturally slowly fertilised) I found many tubes protruded, & what is very odd they certainly seemed to have penetrated the coats of the ovules, but in no one instance the foramen of the ovule!!9 I mention this because it directly bears on your explanation of Dr. Cruger’s case.—10 I believe that your explanation is right; I shd. never have thought of it; yet this was stupid of me, for I remember thinking that the almost closed imperfect flowers of Viola & Oxalis were related to the protrusion of the pollen-tubes.11 My case of the Aceras with aborted labellum squeezed against stigma supports your view.—12 Dr. Cruger’s notion about the ants was a simple conjecture.—13 About crptogamic filaments rember Dr. C. says that the unopened flowers habitually set fruit—14
I think that you will change your view on the imperfect flowers of Viola & Oxalis;15 I am now making a few observations on them: last year I observed a few intermediate forms.—16
I have asked everywhere for seed of Campanula perfoliata.17 Can you get me any?
I am particularly obliged for your remark on Auriculas.—18
It seems to me a good experiment, that of preventing the orchid flowers opening.—19 What an excellent & indefatigable observer you are.
with sincere respect | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin
P.S. Mr. Anderson sent me some seeds of the “abortive” Cattleya crispa; & not one in 100 or 200 contained even a trace of nucleus; the testa being quite empty.—20
Encourages JS to publish on sterility of orchids and to experiment on Passiflora.
Doubted Hooker’s poppy case.
Describes case of primrose with three pistils: when pulled apart allowed pollen to be placed directly on ovules. This supports JS’s explanation of H. Crüger’s case.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4084,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4084