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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   21 July 1875

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

July 21. 75

My dear Mr Dyer

I am very much obliged for the books (returned by this post) & for all the many references1  I am glad to see that even you admit that the L. davuricum seems good.2 I remember the orchid case too well, for I was struck with horror on reading Hildebrand’s paper, for on finding ovules in my plant of Acropera I stated in my book that the species was probably diœcous.3

You told me that there were some wrong references in my book, & I should be greatly obliged if you could let me have them

Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


The letter from Thiselton-Dyer has not been found; CD had asked for help with references and corrections to the second edition of Variation (see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 7 July 1875, and letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 12 July 1875).
In Variation 2d ed. 1: 431, CD added the case of Lilium davuricum (now L. dauricum, the Dahurian lily) and L. bulbiferum (the orange or fire lily) that, when reciprocally fertilised, produced fruit like that of the pollen-bearing species.
Friedrich Hildebrand determined that in many orchids ovules are not developed until weeks or months after pollen-tubes have penetrated the stigma (Hildebrand 1863 and 1865). CD referred to Hildebrand’s papers in ‘Fertilization of orchids’ (1869), p. 153, noting his previous error in supposing that the sexes of Acropera luteola were separate (Orchids, pp. 206–9).


‘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.]

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.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Would be obliged for correction of references in Variation [1st ed.].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Thiselton-Dyer, W.T., Letters from Charles Darwin 1873–81: 25–6)
Physical description
LS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10084,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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