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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. T. Thiselton Dyer   23 July 1875

10 Gloucester Road | Kew

July 23. 75

Dear Mr Darwin

I send you my notes on the variation of animals and Plants.1 You will see that they are a very minute contribution

I have copied out for you what seems to me an interesting case of bud variation in the Sugar cane

Another case of which we have photographs and sketches in the Kew Museum is that of an Orange Pearmain apple which produced a fruit of the russet type. see Gard. Chron. 1873, 1536   It came from Mr G. Lee Clev〈e〉don Bristol.2

Dr Hogg3 could give you 〈man〉y other instances but you no doubt have enough.

I see that it was 〈6 or 7 lines and part of diagram excised


there was no great difficulty about it  It was raised from seed obtained 〈    〉 Major Trevor Clarke.4 The odd theory is that “the upper 〈6 or 7 lines excised 〉

On second thoughts I am inclined to think that Fritz Muller’s Cattleya 〈    〉 〈  〉ed by Epidendrum5

[Enclosure 1]

Potato vol. i. p. 330

There is an account of the wild Potato by Sabine (with a plate) Trans. Hort. Soc. vol. 5 pp. 247–2596

p. 331 The following may be interesting

“On peut accelerer la précocité en prenant des fruits provenant des fleurs les plus précoces. C’est peu le moyen que Knight a obtenu les pommes de terre si hatives de l’Angleterre. Une fois cette précocité fixée, at après tout ce n’est pour la plante qu’un état de nubilité plus prompt, elle se perpétue par les plantations de tubercules.

Morren, Instructions populairs sur les Pommes de Terre Sepr. 21, 1845 p. 297

p. 379 Dr. Marsters8 told me that Cedo nulli a small yellow chrysanthemum habitually produces branches with white flowers

I saw a case at R. Hort. Soc. Nov. 11. 749

p. 397 117/ for Swayne read Goss

“the colour of the skin is modified when pollen 〈of〉 a differently coloured variety is used” This of course would be an alteration in the tissues of the female parent. The seed-coat in Leguminosae represents the ovular coats + the residue of the nucleus 

In Goss’s experiments Mr Knight considers that the cotyledons only were changed and were perceptible as blue through the semitransparent seed-coats which remained white   see Trans. Hort. Soc. vol 5 p. 37910

p. 399. 122/ Trans. Hort. Soc. vol. iv read vol iii11

p. 400 note 124 line 1 for see ‘Proc. read see ‘Journ.’12

p. 401 note 130 line 3 for ‘Proc. Hort. Soc.’ read ‘Journ. Hort. Soc.’13

note 131 see also 1749 but I have no note of the page14

note 132 line 2 for 63 read 6515

note 138 see also Agricultural Gazette. 1873 p. 171416

several lines excised

p. 343 Dr Boswell Syme17 told me that it is the Early varieties that fruit. See also accompanying letter from Mr Barron and foregoing remarks sub. vol. 1 p. 331 from Morren18

[Enclosure 2]

Royal Horticultural Society, | Chiswick Garden, W

July 19th 1875

Dear Sir,

It is a fact so far th〈at〉 “the varieties of the 〈potato〉 which produce tubers very early in the season rarely bear flowers”19—but I do not think that any conclusion can be drawn from it—as the early varieties are mostly of one type—variations of the Ashleaf Kidney— There are early round Potatoes not so well known—that flower profusely—and a second early section—the Lapstone—flowers the most abundantly of all but never bears berries.

There are some late varieties that seldom flower, such as the Scotch Blue. were we to have as many varieties of this and to cultivate them as extensively as the Ashleaf—the rule would be applicable at the other end.

I am Dr. Sir | your obt. Ser | A. F. Barron

Prof. Dyer—

CD annotations

1.1 I send . . . was 5.1] crossed pencil
6.1 On . . . Epidendrum 6.2] crossed pencil
Enclosure 1
1.1 Potato . . . 259 2.2] crossed ink
6.1 p. 379 . . . p. 1714 16.1] crossed ink
17.1 p. 343 . . . Morren 17.3] ‘[Potatoes]pencil del pencil


CD had requested a list of errata for the second edition of Variation in his letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 21 July 1875.
Apple specimens presented to the Royal Horticultural Society by ‘Mr. G. Lee’ were reported in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 15 November 1873, p. 1536. ‘Mr. G. Lee’ was probably George Lee, a market-gardener in Clevedon, Somerset (Census returns of England and Wales 1871 (The National Archives: Public Record Office RG10/2514/19/16)). In Variation 1: 376, CD had reported a similar case of a russet-like apple produced from a different variety.
Robert Hogg.
In Variation 1: 352, CD had described Richard Trevor Clarke’s intercrossing of strawberry varieties. The example was retained in Variation 2d ed. 1: 374.
In Variation 2d ed. 1: 431, CD reported Fritz Müller’s experiment fertilising Cattleya leopoldi with pollen of Epidendron cinnabarinum, resulting in seed that resembled that of Epidendron. Cattleya leopoldii is a synonym of C. tigrina.
CD discussed potato varieties in Variation 1: 330–1. A reference to Joseph Sabine’s article in the Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London (Sabine 1822) was added in Variation 2d ed. 1: 350 n. 94.
The quotation is probably from Morren 1845. The French may be translated as: Early ripening can be accelerated using fruits of early flowers. This is a bit like the method Knight used to get such quick-growing potatoes in England. Once this early ripening is fixed, and after all for the plant it is just a state of faster maturity, it is perpetuated by planting tubers. The reference is to Thomas Andrew Knight.
Maxwell Tylden Masters.
CD discussed bud variation in Chrysanthemum in Variation 1: 379. He added the case of ‘Cedo nulli’, which had been exhibited before the Royal Horticultural Society, in Variation 2d ed. 1: 404.
In Variation 1: 397, CD described the direct action of pollen on the female parts of the plant, such as the seed coatings. Experiments on the influence of pollen on seed colour in peas were reported by John Goss and commented on by Thomas Andrew Knight in the Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London (see Goss 1822 and Knight 1823). CD changed the reference from George Swayne to Goss in Variation 2d ed. 1: 428 n. 128.
The correction was made in Variation 2d ed. 1: 430 n. 133.
Variation 2d ed. 1: 430 n. 135.
Variation 2d ed. 1: 432 n. 144.
The reference to the 1749 volume of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was not added to Variation 2d ed.
The correction was made in Variation 2d ed. 1: 432 n. 146.
The reference was not added to Variation 2d ed.
John Thomas Irvine Boswell-Syme.
Charles François Antoine Morren (see n. 7, above).
The passage is from Variation 2: 343 and appears in a discussion of the laws of variation. It was removed from Variation 2d ed.


Goss, John. 1822. On the variation in the colour of peas, occasioned by cross impregnation. [Read 15 October 1822.] Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 5 (1824): 234–7.

Morren, Charles. 1845. Nouvelles instructions populaires sur les moyens de combattre et d'étruire la maladie actuelle (Gangrène humide) des pommes de terre et sur les moyens d’obtenir pendant l’hiver, et spécialement en France, des récoltes de ces tubercules, suivies de renseignements sur la culture et l’usage du topinambour. Paris: Roret.

Sabine, Joseph. 1822. On the native country of the wild potatoe, with an account of its culture in the garden of the Horticultural Society; and observations on the importance of obtaining improved varieties of the cultivated plant. [Read 19 November 1822.] Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 5 (1824): 249–59.

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.


Encloses corrections and notes on Variation [1st ed.].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Gloucester Rd, Kew, 10
Source of text
DAR 178: 95, 96
Physical description
inc & damaged 4pp †, encls 2pp & 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10089,” accessed on 14 May 2021,

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