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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   [21 November 1878]1


[4 Bryanston Street, London.]

My dear F.

Please look at base of left petiole of Cots of not very young seedlings of Trifolium strictum to see if there is any pulvinus—as whole length of petiole seems to twist when left cotyledon slews round so as to stand almost at right angles to the other & right cotyledon.—2

Please ask Lettington to sow in flower pot the 2 enclosed seeds of Impatiens noli-tangere just received from Dyer.—3 Should any seedlings of Impatiens germinate whilst I am away, see if they sleep—

The Concert has given your mother a rather bad headache.—4 I am now off to Romanes5

My dear old fellow | good Bye | C. D

I am beginning already to long to be at home.—

Litchfield & his Mrs. want tickets for your Lecture.6


The date is established by the postmark. In 1878, the Thursday before 22 November was 21 November.
For CD’s interest in the pulvinus, the joint-like thickening at the base of leaves that facilitates movement, allowing them to sleep, see the letter to Francis Darwin, 2 July [1878] and n. 8. CD had asked Francis to observe the pulvinus in species that raised and depressed cotyledons greatly or moderately at night (see letter to Francis Darwin, 14 [August 1878]). For CD’s conclusions on the role of the pulvinus in movement in cotyledons and in nyctitropic movements in leaves, see Movement in plants, pp. 112–13 and 396–7; Trifolium strictum (upright clover) is mentioned on pp. 116 and 118. CD’s notes on T. strictum up to 17 November [1878] are in DAR 209.9: 62–3; Francis’s notes on movement in T. strictum, dated 21 to 25 November, are in DAR 209.9: 64.
Henry Lettington was CD’s gardener. CD had requested seed of Impatiens noli-me-tangere (a synonym of Impatiens noli-tangere, western touch-me-not) in his letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 30 October [1878]. See also letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 21 November [1878].
Emma Darwin attended a concert at Bryanston Square in London on 19 November 1878 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)); CD and Emma were staying with Richard Buckley and Henrietta Emma Litchfield at 4 Bryanston Street, London, from 19 to 27 November (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
On 9 December 1878, Francis Darwin gave a lecture at the London Institution titled ‘Self-defence among plants’; the Litchfields attended (Royal Cornwall Gazette, 20 December 1878, p. 2; Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [10 December 1878] (DAR 219.9: 185), and Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [10 December 1878] (DAR 219.1: 119)).


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


Instructs FD to make some observations on movement in Trifolium and Impatiens. Sends some seeds to be sown.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
NO 22 78
Source of text
DAR 211: 47
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11754,” accessed on 30 November 2023,