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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermann Müller   9 October 1871


9 Octobr. 1871.

My dear Sir

After having observed during the last four summers the insects fertilising our flowers and having studied these flowers themselves I am now about to lay down my observations in a work on fertilisation of flowers by insects.1 In order to make this work more useful for those who wish to find quickly what observations hitherto have been on cross-fertilisation of some plant, I intend to give a complet systematical list of all plants on which such observations have been made with short mention of the works in which this observations are published. I possess and know on this matter only the work of Sprengel, yours, those of Hildebrand, Delpino and Severin Axell.2 I would be much obliged to you, if you would acquaint me with those English and other works and Journals, in which you know that observations on cross-fertilisation (or on contrivances of flowers by which cross fertilisation is favoured) are published.

A memoir of mine “On the application of the Darwinian theory on bees” is now under press. As soon as I receive Separata, I will you send one3

I remain, my dear Sir, | yours very sincerely | H. Müller.

CD annotations

1.9 I would … are published 1.11] ‘Lecoq— Etudes de la Geog Botan. | Vaucher. Hist Phys des Plantes’4 pencil
Last page: ‘Your Brothers’ pencil, circled pencil; ‘(Orchids in my supplemental Paper) | —Bennett paper— | (Your Paper in America)’5 pencil


Müller’s research was published in his Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider (The fertilisation of flowers by insects and their reciprocal adaptations; Hermann Müller 1873); there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 610–12).
Müller refers to Christian Konrad Sprengel, Friedrich Hildebrand, Federico Delpino, and Johan Severin Axell. Müller gave a list of the works he relied upon in Hermann Müller 1873, pp. 24–7; he included works by his brother, Fritz Müller. He listed relevant works by CD in a note on page 9.
Müller’s ‘Anwendung der Darwin’schen Lehre auf Bienen’ was published in 1872 (Hermann Müller 1872); there is an annotated offprint in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD refers to Henri Lecoq and Lecoq 1854–8, and to Jean-Pierre-Etienne Vaucher and Vaucher 1841.
CD refers to his ‘Fertilization of orchids’, a set of notes drawn up for the French translation of Orchids (Rérolle trans. 1870) and also published in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History in 1869, and to the botanist Alfred William Bennett, several of whose works appear in the bibliography to Hermann Müller, 1873. An English version of an article by Müller appeared in American Naturalist July 1871, pp. 271–97.


‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]

Lecoq, Henri. 1854–8. Études sur la géographie botanique de l’Europe et en particulier sur la végétation du plateau central de la France. 9 vols. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Müller, Hermann. 1873. Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider. Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntniss des ursächlichen Zusammenhanges in der organischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Vaucher, Jean Pierre Etienne. 1841. Histoire physiologique des plantes d’Europe ou exposition des phénomènes qu’elles présentent dans les diverses périodes de leur développement. 4 vols. Paris: Marc Aurel Frères.


Is preparing a work on fertilisation of flowers, and wants to add a list of works containing observations on cross-fertilisation of plants. Asks CD for any references he may have.

Letter details

Letter no.
Heinrich Ludwig Hermann (Hermann) Müller
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171: 297
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7997,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19