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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   9 July [1877]1

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

July 9th

My dear Dyer.

I know how you are overworked, but I am puzzled about culture of four of the Kew plants.— Please do not write, but on enclosed slip under each name add—“water plant freely” or “keep dry” or “put pot in shallow saucer with water”—or “put pot in deep saucer with water”.—&c. “Hot-house or or Greenhouse”2

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Envelope addressed enclosed.

Have you ever observed that the plants of rather warmer countries than England oftener are protected by bloom than English plants? I ask because I can find only a few wild English plants with bloom, whilst there are a good many in the flower-garden & greenhouse.3

Would Bentham4 be a likely man to ask.—


The year is established from references in the Kew Outwards book (Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; see n. 2, below). The year 1877 is the only one in which CD is recorded as receiving a batch of plants in early July.
CD frequently used plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where Thiselton-Dyer was assistant director. The enclosed slip has not been found, and the particular plants referred to have not been identified, but according to the Kew Outwards book, the following plants were sent to Down on 3 July 1877: Arachis hypogaea (peanut); Desmodium gyrans (a synonym of Codariocalyx motorius, telegraph or semaphore plant); Marsilea quadrifolia (four-leaf clover); Mimosa albida; Ricinus communis (castor-oil plant); Limnocharis plumieri (a synonym of L. flava, yellow velvet-leaf); Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce); Thalia dealbata (powdery alligator-flag); Crinum capense (a synonym of C. bulbispermum, hardy swamplily); Comarum palustre (purple marshlocks); Elymus condensatus (a synonym of Leymus condensatus (giant wildrye); Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag); Oenanthe fistulosa; Typha latifolia (bulrush). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 May 1877.
CD resumed his earlier work on bloom, the waxy or powdery coating on some flowers and fruits, in 1877; see letter to Fritz Müller, 14 May 1877 and n. 2.


Asks for advice on how to care for previously sent species.

Occurrence of "bloom".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Darwin: Letters to Thiselton-Dyer, 1873–81: ff. 67–8)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11043,” accessed on 2 April 2023,