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Darwin Correspondence Project

From M. T. Masters   26 January 1876

Horticultural Club, | Adelphi Terrace, | W.C.

Jan 26. 1876

My dear Sir/

I am greatly obliged for your letter and with reference to the exudation of a saccharine secretion from the leaves of the Lime, independently of Aphides, I have no doubt that this really does occur— The matter was bruited at more than one of the meetings of the Scientific Committee of the R. Hort. Society and if you wish it I shall be pleased to hunt up the references in the Chronicle1

With many thanks | faithfully yrs. | Maxwell. T. Masters

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘See my Orchid Book’ pencil; ‘Farrer on Coronilla & self on [illeg] & Marcgravia— | H. Muller p [added]132 Marcgravia— Bractea Crüger | The excretion of Honey-dew occurs only in a few plants as this not necessary for [seed] occurs regularly from glands in only a moderate number of plants in extremely hot parts— Check aspects | Coronilla *& of [use] to it [interl] lead to Marcgravia’2 ink


CD’s letter has not been found; he used this information in Cross and self fertilisation, p. 402, referring to Masters and to the Royal Horticultural Society as his sources. The possible causes of the appearance of ‘honey-dew’ on the leaves of lime trees (Tilia) had been raised at meetings of the society on 3 April and 1 May 1872 (Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society of London n.s. 4 (1873): 1–7). Masters was editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle.
The notes are for a discussion CD published later in the year on the origins of nectar as a means of attracting insect pollinators (see Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 402–5); he cited information from Thomas Henry Farrer on the genus Coronilla (crown vetch), and from Hermann Crüger on secretions from the bracts of plants in the Marcgraviaceae family. Hermann Müller had also described secretions from the bracts of members of the Marcgraviaceae family (H. Müller 1873, p. 152). CD discussed the secretion of nectar extensively in Orchids, and had discovered intercellular nectar in orchids with apparently dry nectaries (Orchids 2d ed., pp. 38–44). He believed that nectar originated as the excretion of a waste product of chemical changes in the sap in hot weather. See also Correspondence vol. 22, letter to T. H. Farrer, 4 July [1874].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Müller, Hermann. 1873. Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider. Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntniss des ursächlichen Zusammenhanges in der organischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

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.


In response to CD’s query, answers that he has frequently heard discussions at the Horticultural Society of a saccharine secretion from leaves of the lime and has no doubt it really does occur. [See Cross and self-fertilisation, p. 402.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Maxwell Tylden Masters
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Horticultural Club
Source of text
DAR 76: B185
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10367,” accessed on 2 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24