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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin to ?   23 August 1878

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

Aug 23. 78

Dear Sir,

My father begs me to express his thanks to you for your letter containing the curious case of inheritance.1 He regrets that being engaged in other directions the fact cannot be made use of by him. As you are no doubt aware, some similar cases are recorded in Animals & Plants 2nd Edit II p 319.2

My father can form no opinion as to the nature of the bough of the laburnum. If however the flowers were purple & not yellow, it is probable that your tree is Cytisus Adami & the variation is a case of reversion   You will find this case described Animals & Plants 2nd edit I p 4133

Yours faithfully | Francis Darwin


The letter has not been found; the correspondent has not been identified.
In Variation 2d ed. 2: 319ff., CD had discussed cases in which inherited baldness was associated with an inherited deficiency in teeth, as well as other cases of correlated variation.
Cytisus adami (a synonym of +Laburnocytisus adamii) was a graft hybrid of the common yellow laburnum, C. laburnum (a synonym of Laburnum anagyroides), and C. purpureus (a synonym of Chamaecytisus purpureus, purple broom; Bean 1970–88, 2: 510–11). Cytisus adami was noted for its red, sterile flowers, but frequently some branches would revert to either parent form, bearing yellow or purple flowers. For CD’s discussion of the case, see Variation 2d ed. 1: 413–17.


Bean, William Jackson. 1970–88. Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles. 8th edition, fully revised by D. L. Clarke and George Taylor. 4 vols. and supplement. London: John Murray.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Writes for CD. Thanks correspondent for curious case of inheritance, which CD cannot use as he is working in different directions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Yale University: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (GEN MSS MISC Group 104 F-1)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11672,” accessed on 31 March 2023,