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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Bentham   8 December 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec 8th 76

My dear Mr Bentham

You wrote to me in 1864 a very valuable letter, enclosing specimens Ægiphila, which I have been examining & find splendidly dimorphic. In this same letter you say that you believe that Boronia pinnata is likewise dimorphic, or as I now prefer to call such plants heterostyled.1 I am preparing to republish all my papers on this subject with additional matter, & I am anxious to give as many Families as possible.2 Now could you without great trouble send me two or three flowers of both forms of the Boronia; if so I should be greatly oblig⁠⟨⁠ed⁠⟩⁠

Pray believe me, | My dear Mr Bentham, | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S. I have told Murray to send you a copy of a book just published by me, which you may like to look at, though it is not possible to read all.3


Bentham had sent flowers of Aegiphila elata (tall spiritweed) and A. mollis (contra culebra) with his letter of 10 July 1864 (Correspondence vol. 12). He had studied the floral structure of some species of Boronia and noted great differences in the length of styles and stamens in Boronia pinnata. Boronia is a genus in the family Rutaceae (rue and citrus).
CD incorporated material from his papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants published in the 1860s (‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, ‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, ‘Two forms in species of Linum, ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, and ‘Specific difference in Primula) into Forms of flowers, published in July 1877 (Freeman 1977). He described Aegiphila in ibid., pp. 123–4.
Bentham’s name was not on the presentation list (see Appendix III), but CD had asked his publisher John Murray to send Bentham Cross and self fertilisation, which had been published in December 1876 (DAR 210.11: 6).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

‘Specific difference in Primula’: On the specific difference between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis of Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the hybrid nature of the common oxlip. With supplementary remarks on naturally produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 19 March 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 437–54.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum’: On the three remarkable sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, an orchid in the possession of the Linnean Society. By Charles Darwin. [Read 3 April 1862.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. [Collected papers 2: 63–70.]

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Asks GB to send him flowers of the two forms of Boronia pinnata, as he is republishing his papers on dimorphic plants [Forms of flowers].

Sends copy of Cross and self-fertilisation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Bentham
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (GEB/1/3: Correspondence, Vol. 3, Daintree–Dyer, (1830–1884) 717)
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10706,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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