skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 May [1877]

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

May 25th.

My dear Hooker

I have been looking over my old notes about the ‘bloom’ on plants, & I think that the subject is worth pursuing, though I am very doubtful of any success.—1 Are you inclined to aid me on the mere chance of success; for without your aid I could do hardly anything.

Frank has got a short list of seeds, which ought to be sown at once, if you can let me have them.—2 There are also several plants which I suppose it wd. be impossible to buy, & a loan of which wd be of the greatest use; but I shd. not require them for about six weeks, after a visit to Southampton, & by that time I presume that you will be starting for the U. States.3 This is the reason why I have given the list to Frank to show you, as when you are away I suppose there will be no one authorised to lend me any plant.—

I often wish that I could be content to give up all scientific work & then I shd. bother no one, but I find that I cannot yet endure to be an idler.

May your & Mrs. Hooker’s4 tour be in every way interesting & delightful. | Farewell | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


I shd be glad of seeds soon5

Seeds of Melilotus officinalis or Italica or both

— M. cærulea

— Papaver somniferum (I wrote to a nurseryman, & he said he had none!)

— Trifolium resupinatum

— Arachis hypogæa or plant of

— Mimosa sensitiva or plant of (Brazilian species)6

Loan of Plants of following species (if possible) but I shall not want them for about six weeks.—

Averrhoa Carambola Linn: (this vy valuable to me)

Marsilea quadrifolia }
or A. Brongniart says that the leaves of these plants go to sleep.!!7
—— pubescens
Strephium Guianense8

Musa glauca

Castor-oil Plant9

Mimosa albida (a plant which I formerly borrowed)10

Desmodium gyrans. N.B I suppose that I could buy this plant.— Would Veitch be best man to apply to for out of way plants??11

Nelumbium & 1 or 2 other Water-plants with good “bloom”.—12

Possibly other plants may be found to be almost indispensable.—


On CD’s interest in bloom, see the letter to Fritz Müller, 14 May 1877 and n. 2.
Francis Darwin. The list is included as an enclosure to this letter, although it was not enclosed with the letter but taken to Kew by Francis.
CD visited William Erasmus Darwin in Southampton from 13 June to 4 July 1877 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Hooker travelled across the United States in July and August 1877; he departed for New York on 28 June 1877 (see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 205–17).
This is the list of plants mentioned in the letter above; it was found in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, among the correspondence of William Turner Thiselton-Dyer. Hooker wrote on it: ‘Seeds all sent Dyer to send plants you asked for JDH’.
Melilotus officinalis is yellow sweet clover; M. italica is a synonym of M. italicus, Italian melilot; M. coerulea is a synonym of Trigonella caerulea, blue fenugreek. Papaver somniferum is the opium poppy; Trifolium resupinatum Persian clover; Arachis hypogaea, the peanut. Mimosa sensitiva is a sensitive plant native to Brazil and Peru. The correspondence with the nurseryman has not been found.
Adolphe Théodore Brongniart made these observations in ‘Note sur le sommeil des feuilles dans une plante de la famille des Graminées, le Strephium guianense’, Bulletin de la Société botanique de France 7 (1860): 470–2. See also Movement in plants, p. 391.
Averrhoa carambola is the starfruit; Marsilea quadrifolia, four-leaf clover. Marsilea pubescens is a synonym of M. strigosa. Strephium guianense is a synonym of Raddia guianensis.
Musa glauca is a synonym of Ensete glaucum, the snow banana. The castor-oil plant is Ricinus communis.
CD borrowed a plant of Mimosa albida in November 1873 (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 November 1873] and n. 4).
Desmodium gyrans is a synonym of Codariocalyx motorius (the telegraph plant); the Veitches were a large family firm of nurserymen with several branches; it is not known whether CD refers to a specific member of the firm.
Nelumbium is synonym of Nelumbo, the genus of lotuses.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


CD has again become interested in "bloom" on plants; requests JDH’s help with seeds and plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 440–1; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Darwin: Letters to Thiselton-Dyer, 1873–81: f. 69)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10972,” accessed on 13 September 2023,