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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Nature   6 May [1876]1

Cherry Blossoms

In the last number of Nature (vol. xiv., p. 10), Mr. Pryor states that the flowers of the wild cherry are bitten off in large numbers in much the same manner as I formerly described in the case of the primrose.2 Some days ago I observed many cherry blossoms in this state, and to-day I saw some actually falling. I approached stealthily so as to discover what bird was at work, and behold it was a squirrel. There could be no doubt about it for the squirrel was low in the tree and actually had a blossom between its teeth. It is none the less true that birds likewise bite the flowers of the cherry tree.

Charles Darwin

Down, Beckenham, May 6


The year is established by the publication of this letter in Nature, 11 May 1876.
A letter on the destruction of flowers by birds, written by Alfred Reginald Pryor, was published in Nature, 4 May 1876, p. 10. CD had described the same phenomenon with respect to primrose flowers in Nature, 23 April 1874, p. 482, and 14 May 1874, pp. 24–5 (Correspondence vol. 22, letters to Nature, 18 April [1874] and 7 and 11 May [1874]).


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


Reports seeing flowers of wild cherry bitten off in same manner as primroses [see 9418 and 9444]. In this case it was done by a squirrel, though birds also bite the flowers of the cherry-tree.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Nature, 11 May 1876, p. 28

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10498,” accessed on 26 September 2020,

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