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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Michels   3 May 1870

10 Castlenau Villas | Barnes. S.W

May 3rd. 1870

Dear Sir,

I have taken the liberty of sending for your inspection some drawings, I have lately made of the Pollen of the Geranium and Honeysuckle—1

I noticed that all the pollen bore a marked likeness to oneanother, but that with both specimens, there were one or two exceptions of so remarkable a character, that they might be taken for the Pollen of another plant—

The number of pollen grains in each specimen, were about 30 to 40. The exceptions shown were the only ones of that type.—

Is it possible that the varieties in the character of seedlings, owe their origen to the particular seeds being impregnated with these exceptional pollen.—

It appears probable that as the pollen is the sexual part of the part,2 and any marked peculiarity would be transmitted to the seed impregnated—

For my drawing, I used one of Smith & Becks instrmts and 15 Object glass.3 They are however enlarged about 13.

I remain dear Sir | Your obt St | John Michels

C. Darwin Esq | F.RS.

P.S.— I can show the pollen at any time. JM.


The drawings referred to have not been found.
Michels meant to write, ‘part of the plant’.
Michels refers to Smith, Beck & Beck, scientific instrument makers. ‘15 object glass’ refers to the nominal focal length of the lens used as object glass in the microscope.


Sends drawings of atypical Geranium and honeysuckle pollen-grains. Would they produce variation in seedlings?

Letter details

Letter no.
John Michels
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171: 175
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10495,” accessed on 2 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18