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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   30 December 1878

Royal Gardens Kew

Dec 30. 78

Dear Mr Darwin

At the risk of being troublesome I forward you a good specimen of Commelyna bengalensis, Roxb. which ⁠⟨⁠devel⁠⟩⁠opes flowers and ⁠⟨⁠sets⁠⟩⁠ seed under ground.1 ⁠⟨⁠It⁠⟩⁠ comes to me from ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ Duthie of the Saharunpore Botanic Garden2

Believe me | Yours very truly | W. T. Thiselton Dyer



Commelyna bengalensis Roxb.

see Wight Ic. 2065.3

developes flowers & ripens its seed underground.

A troublesome weed in Dehra Dun Tea plantations.4

J. F. D.

CD note:

Subterranean seeds & Flowers of Commelina5


Commelina benghalensis (Commelyna bengalensis is a misspelling) is the Benghal dayflower. It has large open flowers and small unopened (cleistogamous) flowers, both of which produce large and small seeds (Hayden and Fagan 2016, p. 459). For CD’s interest in the development of seeds underground, see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 31 January [1878] and n. 3.
John Firminger Duthie was superintendent of Saharanpur Botanic Garden (India list 1905).
The text of the enclosure has been written on the outside of a folded sheet containing plant material. Robert Wight described the underground flowers of Commelyna bengalensis (Linn.) in his Icones plantarum Indiae Orientalis (Wight 1840–53, 6: 29, no. 2065).
Dehra Dun (Dehradun) is a district in Uttarakhand state, in the foothills of the Himalayas in north central India, a tea-growing region.
The note is written on an envelope that was presumably used by CD to contain the enclosure.


India list: The East-India register and directory. 1803–44. The East-India register and army list. 1845–60. The Indian Army and civil service list. 1861–76. The India list, civil and military. 1877–95. The India list and India Office list. 1896–1917. London: Wm. H. Allen [and others].

Wight, Robert. 1840–53. Icones plantarum Indiae Orientalis: or figures of Indian plants. 6 vols. Madras: the author.


Sends specimens of Commelyna.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 104
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11811,” accessed on 15 April 2024,