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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hugo de Vries   12 August 1879

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R. [Waterhead Hotel, Coniston.]

Augt 12th. 1879

My dear Sir

I thank you much for your letter, which has interested me more than anything which I have read for a long time.—1 I have gradually been coming to the opinion that in all the cases to which you refer, growth was preceded by a change in the turgescence of the cells, or by some such change; but then I had very little evidence, & my opinion was chiefly founded on general considerations, which are often deceptive.— I hope that you will publish in the course of the Winter, so that I may be able to read & refer to your evidence before the Spring.2

I may just mention, in case you wanted plants to observe, that the hypo-cotyledonous stem of Lychnis githago (var Githago segetum) contracts in a most striking manner: it is at first quite smooth, but after formation of some true leaves becomes covered with zig-zag ridges.3

Once again thanking you for your letter, I remain | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

(P.S. I am writing this away from my home.)4


For De Vries’s publications on turgescence referred to in Movement in plants, pp. 2 and 108–9, see the letter from Hugo de Vries, 7 August 1879 and n. 7.
Lychnis githago and Githago segetum are synonyms of Agrostemma githago (common corncockle). CD described the contraction of the hypocotyl of Githago segetum and cited De Vries’s explanation of contraction in Movement in plants, pp. 108–9; his experimental notes on contraction of the hypocotyl in Lychnis githago, dated 28 October and 29 November [1878], are in DAR 209.14: 36.
CD was on holiday at Coniston in the Lake District; see letter to Leonard Darwin, 12 August 1879.


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


Thanks for letter.

Comments on growth and movement of plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hugo de Vries
Sent from
Coniston Down letterhead
Source of text
Artis Library (De Vries 6)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12190,” accessed on 20 May 2024,