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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   12 July 1875

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

July 12. 75

My dear Farrer

I think the experiment would be well worth trial, but it would be difficult unless D⁠⟨⁠ro⁠⟩⁠sera grew in some one’s park; for ⁠⟨⁠a⁠⟩⁠ considerable number of plants ought to be covered up very early in the season, & not fed with insects & an equal number likewise covered up & fe⁠⟨⁠d⁠⟩⁠; & an equal number of the ⁠⟨⁠pla⁠⟩⁠nts afterwards weighed, & as ⁠⟨⁠you⁠⟩⁠ justly observe their see⁠⟨⁠d⁠⟩⁠ing observed.1 I have found that they can be easily cultivated in soup plates surrounded by moss, & the only care requisite is not to give them too much water; they like a high temperature ie cool hothouse. I had a number of plates & began your experiment last summer, but unfortunately put partitions of zinc across each plate, & this seemed to kill all the plants; any how they quickly grew so unhealthy that I could draw no conclusions.

Independantly of seeding it is not improbable that the effects of animal food might be shown on the following year.

We had a letter from my son William this morning & he ends with the following words, with which I most heartily concur “we ought really to sign a round robin of thanks of the Farrers, it was so very pleasant there”2

Believe me my dear Farrer | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S | I know nothing about the fertilisation of Drosera


See letter from T. H. Farrer, 11 July 1875. Drosera: sundew, an insectivorous plant.
William Erasmus Darwin visited Abinger Hall, Surrey, the home of Thomas Henry and Frances Euphemia Farrer, on 4 June and 3 July 1875 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). CD was there from 3 June to 6 July 1875 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). William’s letter has not been found.


Describes difficulty of conditions for the experiment with Drosera suggested by THF.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (LS Ms 299/24)
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10060,” accessed on 21 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23