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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary Treat   21 April [1876]1

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

April 21st/76/

Dear Mrs Treat

I congratulate you on your splendid Botanical success in finding the Water Lily & Amaryllis.2 Alas I know nothing of systematical botany. The specimens which you have sent of Utricularia are most beautiful & excellently preserved. I shall feel great interest in reading your account of them when published.3

I am sorry to say that I never received the article in Harpers on the sensitivity of the valve in Utricularia,— a subject which drives me half mad.—4 If you have been able to prove either side of the case, I beg you to tell me exact title & date of the number, which I can then easily procure.

If the Nymphaea is presumed by Dr. Gray to be a new species, I am sure Dr Hooker wd be very glad of a specimen.—5 I hope that you received my Book on Insectivorous Plants, copies of which were despatched at the same time to you, Asa Gray & Dr Canby.6

Dear Madam | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

I have thought it best to address this to Vineland


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Mary Treat, 3 April 1876.
Treat named the water lily Nymphaea lutea but later she it found to be the same as N. flava (a synonym of N. mexicana). The Amaryllis was a new form of Amaryllis atamasco (now Zephyranthes atamasco; the rain lily); see letter from Mary Treat, 3 April 1876 and nn. 4 and 8.
With her letter of 3 April 1876, Treat sent pressed specimens of Pinguicula, not Utricularia. These have not been found. Treat published on Pinguicula pumila (small butterwort), P. lutea (yellow butterwort), and P. elatior (now Pinguicula primuliflora; primrose butterwort) that she found in Florida in late 1875 in first part of Treat 1876b.
See letter from Mary Treat, 3 April 1876 and nn. 2 and 3. In her article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (Treat 1876a), Treat argued that the valve of Utricularia was sensitive. CD’s copy of Treat 1876a is in DAR 226.2: 160–2. In Insectivorous plants, pp. 407–9, CD had concluded from his experiments on Utricularia neglecta that the valve was not sensitive to irritation.
Asa Gray and Joseph Dalton Hooker; see n. 2, above, and letter from Mary Treat, 3 April 1876.
Treat, Gray, and William Marriott Canby were on CD’s presentation list for Insectivorous plants (see Correspondence vol. 23, Appendix IV).


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

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


Congratulations on finding water-lily.

Thanks for Pinguicula specimens.

Asks for reference to her article on Utricularia [see 10508].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Mary Lua Adelia (Mary) Treat
Sent from
Source of text
Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10464,” accessed on 5 August 2021,

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