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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   29 June 1870

Bd of Trade

29 June/70

My dear Mr Darwin

I have at last got a flower of Passiflora Princeps.1 You were quite right, as you seem always to be   The lower or inner coronas, or whatever they are, which cover the nectary, neither fit close to the style, nor lap over one another so as to prevent the entrance of a stiff object. There are wide gaps by which a pin does get to the bottom and comes out covered with nectar. But the style is very long: the flower sub-erect: and, so far as I can see, the anthers and stigmas do not droop down as in P. Caerulea. The consequence is that the distance between these organs and the nectary & their relative position is such that a bee on the top of the outer coronas would not touch them. Add to this that the two outer coronas are very little developed: and that the third closes round the style so as to make it an inch from the entrance to the bottom of the nectary— I think with all this we have a correlation of parts suited for Humming birds & not for Bees.—though not exactly the correlation I noted in the others.2

I will certainly come and see you as you so kindly suggest—but am very busy till the Session is over—which I find the best thing. It is the leisure & the tired hours which are difficult to bear.3

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

We have been deeply interested in watching the wonderful motions of Passifloras in climbing. They seek & find & hold on & pull up like an animal


CD had advised Farrer to look at the pollination mechanism of Passiflora princeps in October 1869; Farrer had obtained an imperfect specimen in November 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to T. H. Farrer, 20 October [1869], and letter from T. H. Farrer, 5 November 1869). Passiflora princeps is now P. racemosa, the red passionflower.
Farrer had been engaged in a discussion with CD and Fritz Müller about Passiflora and Tacsonia; see letter to T. H. Farrer, 13 [May 1870] and n. 3. See also Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix IV.
Farrer’s wife, Frances, had died in May 1870 (see letter from T. H. Farrer, 17 May 1870). Farrer was permanent secretary of the Board of Trade.


Has procured a Passiflora flower at last. Structure suited for humming-birds rather than bees.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer (1st Baron Farrer)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Board of Trade
Source of text
DAR 164: 65
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7254,” accessed on 23 June 2018,

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