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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   26 May 1870

Abinger Hall, | Reigate.(Post Town) | Gomshall(Station) S.E.R.

26. May/70

My dear Mr Darwin

I am not discouraged by M. Müller’s Passiflora.1 It is very difficult to judge of a dried specimen   But so far as I can see the corona belongs to a different type, of which, according to engravings we have some kinds in this country, where the corona is not so regular, so stiff, & so grating like, as in P. Cærulea &c.2 What it means is a different question.

I have been interested in watching the common Berberis (barberry),3 much visited by bees, wasps, hornets & flies. Old Sprengel is accurate & quaint as usual, but, I think has not gone quite far enough.4 He assumes that the stamens move, when touched by insects, so as to bring the open anthers in contact with the viscid edge of the stigma. This however does not explain the undoubtable fact that the stamens do not continue appressed to the stigma, but, under this sun, quickly recover their old places, ready, when there is more nectar and another insect, again to spring forward. If the end is to place the pollen on successive insects, ready to be carried by each to another flower, this double motion becomes intelligible

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

I have sent some of Mullers seeds to Kew & to the Regents Park Gardens, besides sowing some here5


Farrer refers to Fritz Müller and to a dried flower of a Passiflora that Müller had sent from Brazil (see letter to T. H. Farrer, 13 [May 1870]).
See letter to T. H. Farrer, 13 [May 1870] and n. 3. Passiflora caerulea is the blue or common passion flower.
Farrer refers to Berberis vulgaris.
Christian Konrad Sprengel described his observations on Berberis vulgaris in Sprengel 1793, pp. 203–6.
Farrer refers to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and to the Botanic Gardens, Regent’s Park, London.


Not discouraged by F. Müller’s Passiflora.

Observations on insects visiting barberries.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer (1st Baron Farrer)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 63
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7202,” accessed on 23 April 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18