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Darwin Correspondence Project

To WTThiselton-Dyer   31 August [1878]1

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

Aug. 31st

My dear Dyer

I made a great number of observations on the curious movements of the flower-peduncles of Oxalis carnosa, after they have set their seeds, but I unfortunately & stupidly overlooked one very simple point of supreme importance to me. I returned both plants in good state: now will you lend me one again, if still in flower or coming into flower again—or if any flower-head has only just gone out of flower.—2 Whoever packs the flowers for me will hate me.— Is it any one or two or three men: if so, I wish you would give them from me a sovereign— Do oblige me in this, if not against strict rules, & I can repay you.—

I hope to Heavens the precious orchid was not injured & does not hate my very name.3

Ever yours | C. Darwin

I am now observing the movemt. of a single flower of Trifolium repens from before expansion to setting & this has shown me my oversight in Oxalis carnosa.—4


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 30 August [1878].
CD had received Oxalis carnosa (a synonym of O. magellanica, fleshy sorrel) from Kew in February 1878 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 February 1878 and n. 2). A plant of this species was sent to CD on 4 September 1878 (Outwards book, p. 470, Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
See letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 30 August [1878]. CD had returned the plant as he was afraid of damaging it in experiments.
In Movement in plants, pp. 277–9, CD noted that in both Trifolium repens (white clover) and Oxalis carnosa the subpeduncles of the individual flowers circumnutated as well as moving downwards as the flower withered.


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


Movements of flower-stalks of Oxalis.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Thiselton-Dyer, W. T., Letters from Charles Darwin 1873–81: 148–9)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11682,” accessed on 2 March 2024,