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.