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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Cross   23 October 1876

Bolland’s Court, | Chester,

23. Oct. 76

Dear Sir,

My first letter was written before leaving home for my friend’s house and the station & posted on my way before seeing the sundews, which I found to my great astonishment were rotting away from below upwards.1 Instead therefore of sending them by railway as was my intention when I wrote the said letter; we at once decided that it would be better to forward them by post, feeling sure that you would receive them sooner. The pieces still remaining green have been placed in a small collecting case, which I trust you will receive to-morrow. The rapid change is probably to be accounted for as follows. By special invitation, twice repeated, I took the specimens to the Conversazione of the Social Science Congress at Liverpool on Tuesday Evg. last.2 On returning the following morning the plants were put back into the fern case and appeared healthy. Circumstances prevented my seeing them again until to-day and you may imagine my surprise & disappointment at seeing them in the condition named above. I trust however that there is still sufficient for purposes of examination. You will observe the buds on two of the detached leaves— The old leaf to which I referred had completely gone.

Yours faithfully, | Geo. Cross

Charles Darwin Esq.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘2d letter’ blue crayon

CD note:

The chief specimen consists of a decayed root-stock with an undoubted Drosera leaf still attached to it. A small abnormal plant is attached by a half-decayed stalk to the upper part of the root stock. This little plant consists of an axis 14 inch long having about 12 leaves coming off successively. The leaves are of peculiar shape with broad petioles & dwarfed laminæ. The largest is about 14 in long & the lamina is 110th inch in biggest diameter. The leaves have very minute, aborted tentacles. The little plant does not seem to have grown out of the disc of a normal leaf; its axis is simply continued into the stalk connecting it with the parent. The connecting stalk is broad like a petiole, so it is just possible that the little plant did grow originally from the disc of a leaf & all traces of this leaf have decayed away— There is another abnormal plant quite separate. There are also two leaves with young plants budding from their discs. Two leaves with rudimentary tentacles—

Sent by Cross—Bollands Court Chester


On the specimens of the common sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, see the first letter from George Cross,  23 October 1876; the friend was John Davies Siddall.
The Social Science Congress, the annual meeting of the Association for the Promotion of Social Science, was held in Liverpool from 10 to 17 October 1876 (Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. Liverpool meeting, 1876).


Sending Drosera plants by post instead of rail because they are rotting.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Cross
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 271
Physical description
ALS 3pp †, Francis Darwin note

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10651,” accessed on 5 December 2022,

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