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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   18 July 1877

Royal Gardens Kew

July 18. 1877

Dear Mr Darwin

The plants were sent to you yesterday and I hope have reached you in good condition.1

With regard to Mimosa Sensitiva, I see that Bentham in his monograph of the Mimoseæ. Trans, Linn. Soc. XXX, p. 390 considers that the Linnean species comprised four or five nearly allied forms that are now considered distinct.2

You have I think our plant of Mimosa albida Humb. & Bonpl. of which Bentham remarks “This is the species or variety which most commonly represents the M. sensitiva of our gardens”.3 It is also no doubt the plant which has always been intended in horticultural literature as M. Sensitiva. So I think you may safely take it as the plant which physiologists have had in their minds and laboratories. The true plant is practically the same but the leaflets are more acute and the whole plant is hairy or villous rather than cano-pubescent4   They are in fact only geographical races. M. sensitiva Eastern, & M. albida western. However I have written out to Brazil for seed

Yours very truly | W. T. Thiselton Dyer


See letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 14 July [1877]. In Bentham 1874, George Bentham noted that Carolus Linnaeus had the Brazilian species in view when he described Mimosa sensitiva, but that he would probably have included other species, including M. albida, under the same head, since they were so similar.
Bentham 1874, p. 390. CD cited Thiselton-Dyer for bringing the reference to his attention in Movement in plants, p. 379 n. See letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 9 July [1877], n. 2.
Villous: hairy. Cano-pubescent: covered in white down.


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


Has sent Mimosa. The horticultural and physiological Mimosa is M. albida, which has a western distribution, rather than M. sensitiva as it is commonly called in error.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 209.2: 159
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11060,” accessed on 1 April 2023,