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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   16 June 1847


June 16. 1847.

Dear Darwin

I only received my Aunts letter this afternoon in time to post it on to you I am very sorry to find by its contents that she could not procure the lodgings you wished.1 I feel sure that if she could not there is little chance of any one else doing so. It may therefore be the best plan for you to accept Mr Jacobsons offer of rooms in Magdalen2 —but of this you are the only judge. I am much disappointed but it cannot be helped—

Your monstrous flower of Cytisus 3 has the stamens all right but one of the 2 parts of the keel has got inside the staminal column & is attached to the inner surface of that column 12 way up: this is very remarkable but doubtless arises from irregular development of the parts at a very early age.

I received some splendid collections from V.D Land4 the other day from the Mts. of the interior which contain several N.Z. & T.D Fuego plants not hitherto found in V.D Land. Also a box from New Zealand with still more identities & analogues— the more I see the less I am inclined to take migration as a sufficient agent in effecting the strange similarity between the Alpine Floras of V.D.L. N.Z. & that of Fuegia. I do long to get my results tabulated & am mentally working out the relations between N.Z. & V.DL. on one hand & Fuegia on the other. it is truly intermediate in Bot. characters between these countries with a Polynesian Flora superadded or if you like is a Polynesian Flora with the two others superadded— I can come to no decision however till I have all the species common to the various localities before me & can then judge if they be transportable or not.5 I fear that they neither belong to transportable species or orders or present any facilities for transport.— I promise you an honest investigation.

Most truly yours | Jos D Hooker

CD annotations

crossed pencil
‘Another had one half of wing purple’added pencil
scored brown crayon
Top of first page: ‘20’brown crayon


CD had asked Hooker to help him to find lodgings in Oxford for the period of the British Association meeting. See letters to J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1847] and [10 June 1847].
William Jacobson, the husband of Hooker’s aunt, Eleanor Jacobson, was vice-principal of Magdalen Hall, Oxford.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, [12 June 1847]. The common laburnum was at that time known as Cytisus laburnum (a synonym of Laburnum anagyroides, common laburnum).
Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). The plants were being collected for Hooker and his father at their own expense by Ronald Campbell Gunn and in New Zealand by William Colenso (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 217).
Hooker was referring to CD’s view, as expressed in the essay of 1844 (Foundations, pp. 57–255), that the distribution of plants could be explained by migration. Various means of dispersal were suggested by CD: icebergs, wind, driftwood, the ability of seeds to retain their vitality in sea-water, and the presence of seeds in bird droppings or in mud attached to birds’ feet. CD also allowed for the possibility of intermediate islands serving as ‘stepping stones’ for the distribution of organic forms. It is not clear why Hooker thought that none of these would apply to the specimens he had received, but his main reason is clearly stated in his Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ (J. D. Hooker 1853–5, vol. 1: xix), where he speaks of the difficulty of accounting for: the presence in two widely sundered localities of rare local species, whose seeds cannot have been transported from one to the other by natural causes now in operation. To take an instance: how does it happen that Edwardsia grandiflora inhabits both New Zealand and South America? or Oxalis Magellanica both these localities and Tasmania? The idea of transportation by aerial or oceanic currents cannot be entertained, as the seeds of neither could stand exposure to salt water, and they are too heavy to be borne in the air. Edwardsia grandiflora is a synonym of Sophora tetraptera.


Foundations: The foundations of the Origin of Species. Two essays written in 1842 and 1844 by Charles Darwin. Edited by Francis Darwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1909. [Reprint edition. New York: Kraus Reprint Co. 1969. Also reprinted in De Beer ed. 1958.]

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1853–5. Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ. 2 vols. Pt 2 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Lovell Reeve.


JDH’s aunt cannot find lodgings for CD.

Similarities between floras of Tierra del Fuego, Van Diemen’s Land, and New Zealand; does not feel migration sufficient explanation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 75–6
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1097,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4