From T. H. Farrer 4 June 1868
3, Gloucester Terrace, Regent’s Park.
4 June /68
My dear Mr Darwin
I have again been seduced from red tape by your book and a handful of Habenaria viridis Peristylus viridis or whatever other name it is called by.1 It does not work quite so surely & readily as O. Maculata, Mascula, & Listera Ovata, and I dont think nearly the same no of pollinia are removed— But here again on taking half a dozen pollinia out at the end of thin bits of quill & fixing them in a rest I find that they do not move at once—but at the end of 20 minutes or an hour most, if not all of them, have bent forwards so as to be in a line with instead of nearly
to the quill. By that time they have set hard.2
This is the position which with my clumsy handling I want them in to get to the stigma, for the lateral distance between the opening of the nectary & the stigma is so small, as compared with the length of the pollinia, that I cannot get them to when
to the quill touch it (except by thrusting their caudicles into the nectary with the quill—where they stay, bodily.) I suppose an insect by retreating and then coming forward again with his head bent down might do it— Is it possible that the pollinia may be setting hard & tending to get into the right position whilst the insect sucks the abundant nectar, and that then they are in the right position & well glued on, for another flower?
Pray put my notes in the fire and do not trouble yourself to answer. You are however by your books & good nature responsible for my idle dilettantism & the loss of your own time.
Listera Ovata is wonderful and never fails.
I shewed a wretched withered Op. Muscifera to Miss Darwin and she I think saw the pollinia bend.3
Sincerely yours | T H Farrer
I find several Stigmas of Hab. viridis fertilized, but none with whole pollinia attached to them.
Describes work with pollinia of another Orchis species.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6229,” accessed on 29 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6229