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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   30 March 1877

Herbarium of Harvard University, | Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.

March 30 1877

My Dear Darwin

Thanks for your note about the dimorphics.1

The Lithospermums of S Batschia are dimorphic—as is well known. But one of them, L. longiflorum (Pentalophus A. Dl.) turns out to bear, later in season (and in some plants from the first?) smaller and smaller flowers,—of which some must be cleistogenous.2 Now of this a long series of the long-flowered state in the herbm. shows only one form of stamens & style, i.e. is not dimorphic, that I can see.

It is the only one that is cleistogenous. Curious, that it should take to this instead of dimorphism

Yours ever | A. Gray


Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel’s edition of Carolus Linnaeus’s Systema vegetabilium classified of species of Lithospermum (Sprengel ed. 1825–8, 1: 543–7); it identified five species as synonymous with Batschia species. Lithospermum longiflorum (Pursh) Spreng. and Pentalophus longiflorus (Pursh) DC are synonyms of Lithospermum incisum (fringed gromwell). In the third thousand of Forms of flowers 2d ed. (1884, p. v), Francis Darwin mentioned recent research on the variable length of the style of Lithospermum longiflorum, confirming that it was not dimorphic.


Forms of flowers 2d ed.: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Lithospermum longiflorum has cleistogamous flowers and, unlike other species of genus, it is not dimorphic.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 165: 195
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10918,” accessed on 22 September 2023,