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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   27 March 1878

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

March 27th. 1878

My dear Sir

I write only to thank you for your interesting letter of Feb. 20th, chiefly about Lepidoptera.1 I lately permitted the Secy. of the Entomological Soc. for London to read some extracts to the Society from two of your letters to me; & he assured me that they interested everyone extremely & gave rise to the best discussion during the season. I have asked him to send you a copy of the Proceedings containing the extracts.2 As I do not think you could object, I will send the letter just received to the Secy.3 It seems to me a sin to keep your letters for myself alone.—

Very many thanks for the seeds of the Viola; by an odd chance, I have just raised seedlings of Trifolium subterraneum & Arachis hypogæa, & now I shall have a third plant, so as to observe how the flowers penetrate the earth.4 For several months my son5 & self have been at work on the biology of seedling plants, & observations on the radicles make me wish to observe subterranean flowers,—that is if we can succeed in doing so.—

The seeds of Pontederia will not germinate, & I observed that the paper where each seed lay was stained so I suppose that the whole letter had been pressed too much.6

With all good wishes for your health & happiness, believe me | ever yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


Raphael Meldola had asked for CD’s permission to read extracts of the letter from Fritz Müller, [27 November 1877] (Correspondence vol. 25) to the Entomological Society of London (see letters from Raphael Meldola, 2 January [1878] and 22 March 1878 and n. 1). The extracts and discussion were published in Proceedings of the Entomological Society of London (1878): ii–iii (see letter to Raphael Meldola, 24 March [1878]).
Müller had sent seeds of Viola (see letter from Fritz Müller, 20 February 1878 and n. 2). Trifolium subterraneum is subterranean clover; Arachis hypogaea is the peanut. CD was studying the sensitivity and movement of radicles (embryonic roots) as part of his work on the movement of plants (see Movement in plants, pp. 68–77).
Müller had sent seeds of an unnamed heterostyled species of Pontederia, the genus of pickerel-weed (see letter to Fritz Müller, 12 January 1878).


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.


Thanks FM for letter of 22 Feb [not found] on Lepidoptera. Will send it to Entomological Society to be read. FM’s earlier letters produced best discussions of the season.

Thanks for seeds of Viola.

He and Francis [Darwin] are at work on biology of seedling plants and wish to observe how the flowers penetrate the earth.

The Pontederia did not germinate, probably pressed too much [in post].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 45)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11448,” accessed on 24 May 2024,