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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Adolf Ernst   16 January 1878

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

Jan 16. 1878.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your very courteous letter & for the present of your work.1 I am delighted that there should be a Naturalist in Venezuela capable of observing the many interesting products of that country: & I hope that you may be successful in your researches. As you are so kind as to offer me any in〈forma〉tion, I will ask you one question, though it is not probable that you should ever have attended to the point. It is whether many more plants growing on the interior dry plains are glaucous (that is are protected by a waxy secretion from which water rolls off like mercury) than in the humid districts near the coast?2

I remain dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


Ernst’s letter to CD has not been found. He evidently sent a copy of his Estudios sobre la flora y fauna de Venezuela (Ernst 1877), but it has not been found in the Darwin Libraries at CUL or Down.
CD began studying bloom (the waxy coating on the leaves and fruit of many plants) in 1873 (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 August 1873). He suspended his work on the subject in 1874 (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 28 [June 1874] and n. 7), and began again in 1877 (Correspondence vol. 25, letter to Fritz Müller, 14 May 1877). CD never published on bloom, but Francis Darwin published some of the results of their experiments, made in 1878, in his paper ‘On the relation between the “bloom” on leaves and the distribution of the stomata’ (F. Darwin 1886).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Darwin, Francis. 1886. On the relation between the ‘bloom’ on leaves and the distribution of the stomata. [Read 4 February 1886.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 22 (1885–6): 99–116.


Thanks AE for his book [Estudios sobre la flora y fauna de Venezuela (1877)].

Asks whether glaucous plants in Venezuela are more common in drier areas.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Adolf Ernst
Sent from
Source of text
State Darwin Museum, Moscow (GDM KP OF 8971)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11321,” accessed on 29 July 2021,