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Darwin Correspondence Project

From L. C. or Margaret Susan Wedgwood to [Emma Darwin?]1   [May 1865]

– – Oxlips.

Long styled short styled total

13 16 29

These are the minimum numbers, for 4 of the short styled plants & 1 long styled consisted each of from 2 to 8 small plants, each cluster here counted as one plant so close together that the leaves interlaced—2

We have the numbers in each cluster shd Uncle Ch. want them.

CD annotations

Below table: ‘Shows from Heteromorphic union’3 red crayon
Verso: ‘Leith Hill Place4 | May 1865 | Showing that both long- & short-styled’ ink


The letter is in the hand of either Lucy Caroline or Margaret Susan Wedgwood, CD’s nieces, who, along with their sister, Katherine Elizabeth Sophy Wedgwood, had previously sent botanical observations (see letter from L. C. Wedgwood, [April–May 1865?] and n. 2). It is conjectured that this was part of a letter to Emma Darwin. CD published this information in ‘Specific difference in Primula, p. 448, and Forms of flowers, pp. 70–1, stating that it came from a friend in Surrey (see n. 4, below).
The observations are of the numbers of the two different forms of the dimorphic oxlip and are discussed in ‘Specific difference in Primula, p. 448, and Forms of flowers, pp. 70–1. CD used these data as evidence that the crosses producing oxlips in nature would probably be between different forms of the two parent species (see n. 3, below). For CD’s interest in the relationship between oxlips, primroses, and cowslips, see the letter from L. C. Wedgwood, [April–May 1865?] and n. 3.
By a heteromorphic union, CD meant a cross in which long-styled or short-styled flowers of separate plants had the pollen of the other form placed on their stigmas; he referred to crosses in which pollen of the same flower form was placed on the stigma as homomorphic (‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, p. 87; see also Collected papers 2: 120). CD later substituted the terms legitimate and illegitimate for heteromorphic and homomorphic respectively. The figures collected by his nieces indicated to him that the plants had been derived from heteromorphic (legitimate) crosses, because if they had been derived from homomorphic (illegitimate) crosses, ‘either the long- or short-styled form would have greatly preponderated in number’ (‘Specific difference in Primula, p. 448; see also Forms of flowers, pp. 70–1).
Leith Hill Place, Surrey, was the home of Josiah Wedgwood III, CD’s brother-in-law, and father of Lucy Caroline and Margaret Susan Wedgwood (Freeman 1978).


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

‘Specific difference in Primula’: On the specific difference between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis of Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the hybrid nature of the common oxlip. With supplementary remarks on naturally produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 19 March 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 437–54.


Sends some figures on long- and short-styled primroses for "Uncle Ch".

Letter details

Letter no.
Lucy Caroline Wedgwood/Lucy Caroline Harrison; Margaret Susan Wedgwood/Margaret Susan Vaughan Williams
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Leith Hill Place
Source of text
DAR 108: 74
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4823,” accessed on 17 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13