skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   20 [May 1878]1

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

Monday 20th

My dear Dyer

I will despatch per Railway tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1o plants for Kew, if you will direct Carrier to call for them on Wednesday at Charing Cross.2

(Acacia cultriformis3

(Mimosa albida.4 (N.B the pot has been embedded in larger pot, which seemed to suit the plant last year.)

(Drosera from Australia.)5

Oxalis carnosa (both plants, as the one which I killed(!) with frost has quite recovered)6

2 other species of Oxalis which I do not want.

Cassia sp.7 (name forgotten this minute) (which I do not want)

I hope the plants will reach Kew safely & I give Hooker8 hearty thanks for them.—

I do not send Nicotiana glauca as it has grown to so gigantic a size; but will save seed for Kew.—9

Nor do I send Araujia, as the plant is so big, & as I sent seed;10 but both shall be sent if required. It makes me proud to send anything to Kew.—

Ever yours | C. Darwin

P.S | My Arachis hypogea is not doing well & the species never has done well after a time.— If Mr Lynch can see a plant with flower-peduncle beginning to bend down to bury the pod, I shd. excessively like the whole watch process. from its commencement, or even near the close.—11


The month and year are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 5 April 1878, and by the day of the week mentioned in the date. In 1878, May was the only month in which the 20th fell on a Monday.
The railway station closest to CD was at Orpington, from where trains went to Charing Cross, London.
Acacia cultriformis (knife-leaf wattle) appears on an undated list of plants, possibly a packing slip, now in DAR 209.12: 3 (see Correspondence vol. 21, enclosure to letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 November 1873]. CD’s notes for his experiments removing bloom from the leaves of this plant, dated between 1 June 1877 and 13 February 1878, are in DAR 66: 83.
Mimosa albida is a tropical American shrub of the family Fabaceae. CD studied movement in this species in November 1873 (see Correspondence vol. 21).
Drosera is the genus of sundews; for CD’s observations on the Australian species he worked on, see Insectivorous plants, pp. 280–5. In his letter to Thiselton-Dyer of 14 May 1878, CD had offered to send a plant of Drosera whittakerii (scented sundew), an Australian species.
CD reported in his letter to J. D. Hooker of 25 March [1878] that he had killed his specimen of Oxalis carnosa (fleshy sorrel). The plant had been sent on 14 February 1878 (Outwards book, Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
CD made observations on several species of Cassia; he had been sent six species in April 1874 (Outwards book, Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
Joseph Dalton Hooker.
CD sent seeds of Nicotiana glauca (tree tobacco) to Kew on 28 June 1878 (Inwards book, Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
CD sent Thiselton-Dyer fruits of Araujia sericifera (common moth-vine or cruel plant) in January 1878 (see letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 29 January 1878).
In his letter to J. D. Hooker of 25 March [1878], CD reported that he had injured all his plants of Arachis hypogaea (peanut). Richard Irwin Lynch was foreman of the propagating department at Kew. An unsigned review of Forms of flowers written by Thiselton-Dyer (letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 5 April 1878 and n. 1) had included the information that flowers of Arachis hypogaea had ovaries in elongated calyx tubes; after fertilisation, the ovary developed a gynophore or stalk that buried the ovary in the ground (Nature, 5 April 1878, p. 446).


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

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Will dispatch plants for Kew tomorrow.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11518,” accessed on 22 June 2021,