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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   15 December 1876

Down, Beckenham, Kent,

December 15, 1876.

Dear Sir,—

I am going to republish my dimorphic papers with new matter, and with an abstract of all that has appeared. In an old letter of yours you tell me that you have seen only one form of Lagerstræmia, and that this was sterile with their own pollen in your gardens.1 Can you give me any further information? I suppose you have a collection of dried plants in the gardens, and if so would you kindly look at the dried specimens and see if you can make out whether two or three forms exist. They would be easily recognised by the length of the pistils and stamens and differently coloured anthers. If you can find different forms, perhaps Dr King (if told the object) would allow you to send me a flower or two of each form, so that I might measure the size of the pollen grains.2 I hope that you have received a copy of a new book of mine despatched about a fortnight ago.3

I remain, my dear sir, | Yours sincerely, | Ch. Darwin.


See letter to Asa Gray, 4 December 1876 and n. 1; CD incorporated the material from his earlier papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants into a broader framework in Forms of flowers, published in July 1877 (Freeman 1977). In his letter of 21 July 1865 (Correspondence vol. 13), Scott reported that Lagerstroemia elegans and L. indica were sterile in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Calcutta.
CD described the extreme variability in the length of the stamens and the uniformity in size of the pollen-grains of Lagerstroemia indica, and cited Scott’s observations, in Forms of flowers, pp. 167–8. George King was superintendent of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Calcutta (now Kolkata), where Scott was curator.
Scott’s name is on CD’s presentation list for Cross and self fertilisation (see Appendix III).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

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.


CD is eager for further information about Lagerstroemia, which is sterile with its own pollen. Does the collection of dried plants reveal more than one form? Plans to republish papers on dimorphism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
Transactions of the Hawick Archæological Society (1908): 70

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10721F,” accessed on 17 April 2021,

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