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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   8 March 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

March 8th 77

My dear Gray

Perhaps you wd like to hear what little I have been able to make out about your flowers.

Leucosmia Burnettiana is in all probability dimorphic judging from relative length & positions of stamens & pistils, but more especially from difference in the stigmas of the 2 forms, but the pollen-grains do not differ in size, which is the best evidence.—1

Gilia pulchella: the two forms differ in their stigmas & do not differ in their pollen-grains, & I shd. have left this case quite doubtful, had not G. micrantha differed in exactly the same manner in the stigma, & moreover in the diameter of the pollen-grains: therefore I do not doubt that both Gilias & others to which you allude are truly heterostyled.2

Phlox subulata is a devil incarnate & as bad as Rhamnus: perhaps it was once heterstyled, with the short-styled form since rendered more feminine in nature.3 Altogether I now know on fairly good evidence of 39 genera, in 14 Families, which include heterstyled species.4 This pleases me.

It is dreadful work making out anything about dried flowers; I never look at one without feeling profound pity for all botanists, but I suppose you are used to it like eels to be skinned alive.— With hearty thanks | Ever Yours | Ch. Darwin


Leucosmia burnettiana is in all probability dimorphic. Thinks Gilia is truly heterostyled and Phlox subulata was, perhaps, once heterostyled. Has good evidence of heterostyly in 39 genera from 14 families.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (117)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10883,” accessed on 23 August 2019,