To T. H. Farrer 28 May 1
Down. | Beckenham |Kent. S.E.
My dear Farrer
I suppose I must have known that the stamens reversed their former position in Berberis, for I formerly tried experiments with anæsthetics, but I had forgotten the fact, & I quite agree with you that it is a sound argument that the movement is not for self-fertilisation.2 The N. American barberries (mahonia) offer a good proof to what an extent natural crossing goes on in this genus; for it now almost impossible in the country to procure a true specimen of the 2 or 3 forms originally introduced—3
I hope the seeds of Passiflora will germinate, for the turning up of the pendent flower must be full of meaning.4 I am so glad that you are able to occupy yourself a little with flowers: I am sure it is most wise in you for your own sake & children’s sake.—5
Some little time ago Delpino wrote to me praising the Swedish book on the fertilisation of plants; as my son George can read a little Swedish, I shd like to have it back for a time just to hear a little what it is about, if you wd. be so kind as to return it by book Post.—6
I am going steadily on with my experiments on the comparative growth of crossed & self fertilised plants, & am now coming to some curious anomalies & some interesting results.7 I forget whether I showed you any of them when you were here for a few hours.—8 You ought to see them; as they explain at a glance why nature has taken such extraordinary pains to ensure frequent crosses between distinct individuals.
If in the course of the summer, you shd. feel any inclination to come here for a day or two, I hope that you will propose to do so, for we shd. be delighted to see you; though, as you know, I can talk with no one except for a very short time.—
Pray believe me | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
P.S | I remember years ago being surprised at observing that the pollen in the genus Hedaroma (or Darwinia)9 is almost liquid viscid, & this seemed to me deserving examination. The plant is also rather ornamental & curious.
Fertilisation of barberries.
Is continuing his experiments on the comparative growth of crossed and self-fertilised plants.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7205,” accessed on 21 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7205