To Federico Delpino 14 October 1869
Oct. 14. 1869
I am much obliged for your courteous and interesting letter.1 I write now in case you should publish on Coryanthes, to caution you to consult a paper in the Bulletin de la Soc. Bot. de France, Tom. 2. 1855. p. 351, in which you will see that the fluid in the labellum hardly deserves to be called nectar.2 I believe Crüger to be right, and I send his paper in case you have not seen it.3
I have been very much struck by the originality of many of your remarks in one of your papers formerly sent; I do not remember the title, and I have lent all your papers to Mr. Farrer who has been studying the Leguminosæ and writes enthusiastically about your papers.4 I have long believed that humming birds play a great part in the fertilisation of many American flowers such as Salvia, Fuchsia &c. From enquiries which I made at the C. of Good Hope I believe that Strelitzia is fertilised by honey-suckers (Nectarinæ). I have received your two papers and hope to get parts of both translated for my own reading.5
If the editor does not send the succeeding numbers of “Scientific Opinion”, I will send them to you if you will inform me.— I am not satisfied with the remarks which I have made on the re-growth of limbs.6
Permit me to suggest to you to study next spring the fertilisation of the Gramineæ; I feel sure that those botanists are wrong who assert that the fertilisation takes place in the flower-bud; though I suspect this occasionally takes place in Triticum. Zea mays would be well worth studying.7 A Swedish book very much like Hildebrand’s has just appeared, so our subject is receiving much attention; I cannot give you the title as I have lent it to Mr. Farrer.8
Believe me, dear Sir | with much respect | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin
Cautions FD about fluid in labellum of Coryanthes.
T. H. Farrer is enthusiastic about FD’s papers.
Believes humming-birds fertilise many American flowers.
Mentions his reply to FD’s criticisms ["Pangenesis: Mr Darwin’s reply to Professor Delpino", Sci. Opin. 2 (1869): 426; Collected papers 2: 158–60].
Suggests that FD study fertilisation of Gramineae.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6938,” accessed on 13 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6938