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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Chichester Oxenden   5 June [1862 or 1864?]1


June 5

Dear Sir

I have this day sent you two or three “Musk-Orchis”,2 in a little Box—

They are in profusion, & you can have so many as you please

—I consider him about as faultless a flower as any of the whole Brotherhood—

—On no account trouble yourself to write, unless I can work for you—

—Two or three young Ladies in my immediate neighbourhood are clever & active Plant-hunters, & first rate Artists also—

—This is great good fortune—

—This day I found fully 50 Bees—& some of the most perfect & dark-coloured Flies I ever came across—3

That which I have enclosed in the Box was growing in a Natural Curve, which is unusual—

Faithfully your’s | G. C. Oxenden


The conjectured years are based on the assumption that the letter forms part of the extant correspondence between CD and Oxenden that took place in 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10) and 1864 (see, for example, letter from G. C. Oxenden, 1 August 1864).
Herminium monorchis, the musk orchis, is discussed in Orchids, pp. 74–5, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, pp. 145–6 (Collected papers 2: 142–3), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 59–62. CD’s notes on the species are in DAR 70: 32–7.
For CD’s description of Ophrys apifera, the bee ophrys, see Orchids, pp. 63–72, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 145 (Collected papers 2: 142), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 52–9; for his description of Ophrys muscifera, the fly orchis, see Orchids, pp. 55–60, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 144 (Collected papers 2: 141), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 45–9. CD’s notes on these species are in DAR 70.


Sends musk orchid.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 63
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4520,” accessed on 23 September 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12