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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   28 December 1875

Botanic Garden, | Cambridge, Mass.

Dec. 28, 1875

My Dear Darwin

Did I ever write you my thanks for the copy of the volume on Climbing Plants, which you, in your wonted kindness, sent me some time ago?1 I am uncertain—but it must have been a mere line, if anything.

I have only now had time to look at it. I have announced it here at close of a short review of Insectivorous Plants, in Amer. Jour. Sci. for Jany.2 And I have written so long a notice of both books, but mainly the Insectivorous, for the Nation that it will be divided. I think we shall have a part of it this week.3

I see a little matter in which I can help you out.

On p. 198, you say of Maurandia that, with little more ado, it might grasp a support by its flower-peduncles. Well, I think it does that sometimes. I am so confident it does so in M. antirrhiniflora (which, by the way I have, from the structure of the corolla referred back to Antirrhinum) that I turned to my herbarium for specimens to show it.4 But I find none that are unequivocal.

But there are two Californian species which have lost it wholly in the petioles (these being short or none) and have tactile peduncles instead.

One is Maurandia stricta Hook. & Arn. = my Antirrhinum strictum.5 This is upright, with long filiform peduncles disposed to coil. Apparently they have little opportunity. The other—from the interior, is my Antirrhinum (Maurandella) Cooperi,—a very slender, branching, straggling thing, with very long filiform peduncles, which coil freely when they reach anything, making 2 or 3 turns around the support, at least 2 turns are common in the dried specimens.6

Of course I can help you to none with abortive flowers.

As to transitions from branches to tendrils, I was interested in 3 or 4 Californian species of Antirrhinum that show that, A. coulterianum & A. vagans are the two best.7 They are not in cultivation; but seeds have been received of the former this year, & we may grow them next year. Evidently they are not of a sort to develope into revolving tendrils,—but are more like the hooking branches of some tropical shrubs,—and some are peduncles.

I am very well, & my wife8 tolerably so. We both send very best wishes to you and yours for the New Year.

Ever Yours sincerely | Asa Gray

CD annotations

1.1 Did … week. 2.4] crossed blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘(Climbing Plants)’ blue crayon


Gray’s name is on CD’s presentation list for both Insectivorous plants and Climbing plants 2d ed. (see Appendix IV).
Gray’s short review of Insectivorous plants and brief notice of Climbing plants 2d ed. appeared in the American Journal of Science and Arts, January 1876, pp. 69–74.
Gray’s review of Insectivorous plants and Climbing plants 2d ed. for the Nation (A. Gray 1876) appeared in the issues for 6 and 13 January 1876. CD’s copy is in DAR 139.18: 11–12.
Maurandia is a synonym of Maurandya; M. antirrhiniflora (a synonym of Maurandella antirrhiniflora, snapdragon vine) differs from most other species in the genus in having flowers with a closed tubular corolla similar to flowers of Antirrhinum (snapdragon). CD had noted that the peduncles or flower-stalks of Maurandia semperflorens (a misspelling of Maurandya semperflorens; a synonym of Maurandya scandens, creeping snapdragon) revolved in small circles and bent when gently rubbed (Climbing plants 2d ed., p. 198).
Antirrhinum strictum and Maurandya stricta (‘Maurandia’ is a misspelling) are synonyms of Neogaerrhinum strictum (Kellogg’s snapdragon).
Antirrhinum cooperi is a synonym of Neogaerrhinum filipes (yellow twining snapdragon). The tendril-like peduncle can be several centimetres long.
Antirrhinum coulterianum (a synonym of Sairocarpus coulterianus, Coulter’s snapdragon) and Antirrhinum vagans (a synonym of Sairocarpus vexillocalyculatus subsp. vexillocalyculatus, wiry snapdragon) both have prehensile branchlets at the top of the stem.


Climbing plants 2d ed.: The movements and habits of climbing plants. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


AG’s notices of Insectivorous plants [Nation 22 (1876): 12–14, 30–2]

and Climbing plants [2d ed., Am. J. Sci. 3d ser. 11 (1876): 69–74].

Use of flower peduncles for support in Maurandia. Transition from branches to tendrils.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 189
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10329,” accessed on 21 May 2024,

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