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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [after 8 October 1876]1

Pantlludw, | Machynlleth.

Dearest Father

Many thanks for the papers & your letter;2 I can work quite well all morning at the teasel work.3 I have been also reading & abstracting all the part in Sachs Physiologie Vég: about transpiration & circulation of water with a view to trying a machine for measuring root-absorbtion, devised by us & this gives me a good lot of thought4  I shall have a good bit more teasel microscoping to do when I get back. I see in Nature that in the Italian Journal of Bot a Dr Gibelli has described the leaves of Empetrum nigrum as making cavities like sarracenia & suggests they are insectivorous. Do you know Empetrum? (if that is the name, I am quoting without Nature)5 I ought to look at its glands as it may be teasel-plant

Mrs Ruck was very pleased at your kind way of sending yr love to her.6 Give my best love to dearest mother | Goodbye dear Father, I am very glad you like Wms house7 | Yr affec son | Frank Darwin

I shall be glad of Orchis proofs8


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Darwin, 8 October [1876].
CD had recommended two articles in the latest issue of Popular Science Review (see letter to Francis Darwin, 8 October [1876] and nn. 1 and 3).
Francis was experimenting with the common or fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris, a synonym of D. fullonum; see letter from Francis Darwin, [1 June 1876] and n. 2).
Absorption, circulation, and transpiration of water are discussed in chapters 6 and 7 of Julius Sachs’s Physiologie végétale (Sachs 1868, a translation of Handbuch der Experimental-Physiologie der Pflanzen (Sachs 1865)).
The notice of an article by Giuseppe Gibelli comparing the leaves of Empetrum nigrum (the crowberry) to insect-catching pitchers of Nepenthes and Sarracenia appeared in Nature, 5 October 1876, p. 518. The original article was published in Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano (Gibelli 1876). CD had communicated ‘On the leaf-arrangement of the crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)’ by Hubert Airy (Airy 1876) to the Royal Society of London (see letter from Hubert Airy, 2 May 1876).
CD had referred to Mary Anne Ruck as Francis’s ‘dear second mother’ (letter to Francis Darwin, 8 October [1876]).
CD stayed at William Erasmus Darwin’s house in Southampton from 7 to 20 October (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Proof-sheets of Orchids 2d ed. were expected soon (see letter to Francis Darwin, 8 October [1876] and n. 5).


Airy, Hubert. 1876. On the leaf-arrangement of the crowberry (Empetrum nigrum). Abstract. Communicated by Charles Darwin. [Received 8 May 1876.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 25 (1876–7): 158–60.

Gibelli, Giuseppe. 1876. Di una singolare struttura delle foglie delle Empetracee. Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano 8: 49–60.

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

Sachs, Julius. 1865. Handbuch der Experimental-Physiologie der Pflanzen: Untersuchungen über die allgemeinen Lebensbedingungen der Pflanzen und die Functionen ihrer Organe. Vol. 4 of Handbuch der physiologischen Botanik, edited by Anton de Bary, Thilo Irmisch, and Julius Sachs. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.


Thanks for papers and letter; has been working in the mornings on teasel.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Pantlludw, Machynlleth
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 36

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10635F,” accessed on 16 January 2021,

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