To T. H. Farrer 10 August 1
Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.
My dear Mr Farrer
Your view seems most ingenious & probable; but ascertain in a good many cases that the nectar is actually within the staminal tubes. One can see that if there is to be a split in the tube, the law of symmetry, would lead it to be double & so free one stamen.2
Your view, if confirmed, would be extremely well worth publication before Linnean Soc.3 It is to me delightful to see what appears a mere morphological character proved to be of use; it pleases me the more as Carl Nägeli has lately been pitching into me on this head:4 Hooker, with whom I discussed subject, maintained that uses wd. be proved for lots more structures, & cheered me by throwing my own orchids into my teeth.5
All that you say about changed position of peduncle in bud, in flower & in seed is quite new to me, & reminds me of analogous cases with tendrils. This is well worth working out, & I daresay the brush of the stigma.—6
With respect to the hairs or filaments (about which I once spoke) within different parts of flowers.— I have a splendid Tacsonia with perfectly pendent flowers, & there is only a microscopical vestige of the corona of coloured filaments; whilst in most common passion-flowers, the flowers stand upright & there is the splendid corona which apparently wd catch pollen.—
On lower side of corolla of Foxglove there are some fine hairs, but these seem of not least use,—a mere purposeless exaggeration of down on outside,—as I conclude after watching the Bees at work, & afterwd covering up some plants; for the protected flowers rarely set any seed, so that hairy lower part of corolla does not come into contact with stigma, as some Frenchman7 says occurs with some other plants, as Viola odorata & I think Iris.
I heartily wish I could accept your kind invitation, for I am not by nature a savage, but it is impossible—8
Forgive my dreadful handwriting, none of my women-kind are about to act as amanuenses—
Pray believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
I am going to publish some notes on Orchids & will send you a copy: I give, but with utmost brevity, your correction of my two errors.—9
THF’s view, if confirmed, pleases CD in that what appears a mere morphological character is found to be of use. Carl Nägeli has been attacking him on this head.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6859,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6859