skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. V. Carus   22 March 1877

Zoological Station | Naples

March 22, 1877

My dear Sir,

I have to point out a curious mistake in your “Crossing”-book, which I found out too late.1

You speak of cleistogenous flowers and quote Kuhn’s paper in the Botan. Zeitung 1867, p 65. But here Kuhn as well as later authors (H. Müller f i.) call this form of flowers “cleistogamous”, so that the term corresponds to dichogamous. I found a copy of the Botan. Zeitung and of Müller’s book here in Naples, so that I could refer to them   I have now mentioned it in an Erratum; in a second Edition it has to be altered throughout, I think2   A young botanist, who works here at the station, was struck by my speaking of cleistogenous flowers and Termites, and this made me look at the original paper.

I have to beg your pardon for not having been attentive enough. But as I have not got the Botanische Zeitung myself and as Botany is now rather rich in new terms, I took the word as you had given it.

After rather severe cold for this latitude the spring commences at last. But I scarcely wanted any cheering up, for my work has always been exceedingly nice. Dr Dohrn has done an immense service to science by his Station.3 He desires me to remember him to you and your family.

I have not sent my photo, neither to Haeckel nor to Harting in commemoration of your birthday, because you have it already and because I thought, that you would trust on my most sincere devotion and heartfelt thankfulness for all you have done as a man of science and as the kindest friend, without a public testimonial, which I don’t feel myself worth to give you4

Hoping that you have no reason to complain of your health I remain

My dear Sir, | Yours ever sincerely. | J. Victor Carus


Carus was translating Cross and self fertilisation into German.
In Cross and self fertilisation, CD used ‘cleistogene’ throughout, and on p. 90, he cited Max Kuhn’s article ‘Einige Bemerkungen über Vandellia und den Blüthenpolymorphismus’ (Some remarks about Vandellia and polymorphism in flowers; Kuhn 1867, p. 66) as the source of the term, although Kuhn used the terms ‘cleistogamismus’ and ‘cleistogami’ in this article. Hermann Müller used ‘cleistogam’ in H. Müller 1873, pp. 13 and 19. In Carus trans. 1877d, an erratum at the back replaced ‘cleistogen’ with ‘cleistogam’. In Cross and self fertilisation 2d ed., the term ‘cleistogene’ was changed to ‘cleistogamic’ throughout.
Anton Dohrn founded the Zoological Station at Naples in 1874.
On the occasion of CD’s 68th birthday, he had received albums containing photographs of 154 German scientists and 217 distinguished professors and lovers of science from Holland (see letter from Emil Rade, [before 16] February 1877, and letter from A. A. van Bemmelen and H. J. Veth, 6 February 1877). Ernst Haeckel was involved with the German album (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 9 February 1877). Pieter Harting had sent a copy of a Dutch testimonial honouring CD and Harting communicated the gift to CD of Dutch album to Nature (see letter to Pieter Harting, 19 March 1877, and letter to Nature, 24 February [1877] and n. 2).


Cross and self fertilisation 2d ed.: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1878.

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

Kuhn, Max. 1867. Einige Bemerkungen über Vandellia und den Blüthenpolymorphismus. Botanische Zeitung 25: 65–7.

Müller, Hermann. 1873. Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider. Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntniss des ursächlichen Zusammenhanges in der organischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.


A curious error – too late to change: in Cross and self-fertilisation CD has "cleistogenous" for "cleistogamous" flowers throughout.

Letter details

Letter no.
Julius Victor Carus
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Zoological Station, Naples
Source of text
DAR 161: 108
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10909,” accessed on 24 September 2023,