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Darwin Correspondence Project

From WDFox   3 April [1877]1

Broadlands, | Sandown, I.W.

Ap 3

My dear Darwin

It is much easier to ask questions than answer them. “Pulmonaria” does not exactly answer either of your propositions. It does not “look up to the sky nor down to the ground”.2

After looking at it several times I brought Mrs Fox3 & held a council or Inquest upon the body. It is agreed that P: angustifolia looks up, but not very much up.4 “P. grandiflora” (as Sir P Egertons Gardener gave it me) but which I never can see any differences between it & the broader leaved varieties (this has a bit of tape tied round it.) does not look quite so much up.5

But decidedly neither look “down to Earth”.


These lines are about the angle, upwards decidedly—

In haste yours very truly | W D Fox

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘(Used under Pulmonaria)’ pencil, square brackets in ms
End of letter: ‘(say flowers [‘f’ over ‘F’] projecting obliquely upwards.)’6 ink, square brackets in ms


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, 4 April 1877.
CD had evidently written to either Fox or William Erasmus Darwin regarding the placement of flowers of Pulmonaria (the genus of lungworts) on the stem; however, no letter on the subject has been found. See also letter from W. E. Darwin, [25 March? 1877].
Ellen Sophia Fox.
Pulmonaria angustifolia is narow-leaved lungwort.
Pulmonaria grandiflora is large-flowered lungwort; its status as a distinct species is currently unresolved (The Plant List;, accessed 18 November 2015). William Muir was head gardener at Oulton Park, the home of Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton.
In Forms of flowers, p. 110, CD noted, ‘with Pulmonaria angustifolia, it is evident, from the corolla projecting obliquely upwards, that pollen is much more likely to fall on, or to be carried by insects down to the stigma of the short-styled than of the long-styled flowers’.


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


Reports on upward projection of Pulmonaria flowers.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 110: B62
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10923,” accessed on 25 September 2021,