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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. C. Oxenden   4 August [1864?]1

Dear Sir

The two Plants of “Ep. palustris”, are in cool lodgings, under the North wall of my Garden—& there I think they had better abide, until these fierce heats are abated—2

That valuable kind of knowledge which is derived from failures, tells me to expect this lovely Epipactis in Bogs, where the conterminous Uplands have either chalk or limestone substrata

—The Boundary Rocks of Romney Marsh3 are Red Sandstone— & in the whole 30,000 acres of that reclaimed Bog I find not one of these Plants—

—I may lay claim to as large an amount of ignorance, in matters Geological & Botanical, as most people—& it is mere instinct which incessantly leads me both to good Plants & good shooting— So that, with regard to each of these pursuits, no new Country faults me in the least—

—The insect which haunts the flowers of Ep. grandiflora, or Helleborine, is an extremely minute black coloured Beetle— He is not findable now, for these Plants are far gone with Seed—4

Sincerely your’s | G. C. Oxenden


Augt. 4.


The year is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. C. Oxenden, 1 August 1864.
See letter from G. C. Oxenden, 1 August 1864 and n. 1. In a letter that has not been found, CD apparently requested that Oxenden send him some specimens of Epipactis palustris. In Orchids 2d ed., p. 93 n., CD did not refer to Oxenden’s specimens of E. palustris, but to those of Alexander Goodman More.
Romney Marsh is a coastal district near New Romney, Kent.


Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.


A minute black beetle visits the flowers of Epipactis grandiflora.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 67
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4583,” accessed on 16 November 2019,

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