To John Denny 9 July 1872
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
July 9. 1872
I have read with great interest yr two articles at the Congress, published in the Gardener’s Chron., copies of which I owe to the kindness of some one with the initial “D”, perhaps to you.1 I have thought that you wd perhaps excuse my asking you a question. Is the D. of Cornwall Pelargonium fertile with its own pollen, as well as with that of the 2 or 3 vars mentioned by you, whilst it is sterile with other reputed vars? Or is the Duke sterile with its own pollen & fertile only with certain vars? This latter fact is highly remarkable & wd deserve to be published in full detail—i.e. the number of trials on father’s & mother’s side &c. But the former case wd be quite new, & in my opinion of the highest importance. Might I also ask whether you have repeatedly tried to fertilize other vars of the Ivy-leaved Pelarg., besides Peltatum-elegans, with pollen of the Zonal, & have always failed; whilst, as I understand, you have succeeded easily with var. peltatum.2 Very few such cases have been recorded, & here again I hope to see full details hereafter published.3
Your statement that the transmittance of characters from either parent depends in large part on strength of constitution is quite new to me;4 & it wd be very interesting to discover whether the same rule holds with other families of plants. With respect to transmittance of character, when both parents are of equally good constitution, I shd expect from what little I know that different rules wd hold in difft families.5 If you are not already acquainted with Gärtner’s 2 works, you wd find them valuable & interesting.6
I hope that you will forgive the liberty I have taken in troubling you, & I remain with much respect | Dear Sir | yours faithfully | Charles Darwin
Has read JD’s articles in the Gardeners’ Chronicle [(1872): 872, 904–5].
Questions him on the fertility of certain varieties of Pelargonium which are fertile with some varieties but infertile with others.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8403,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8403