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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   11 March 1880

Herbarium of Harvard University, | Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.

March 11 1880.

Dear Darwin

I send you “one more” of the flat seeds, which has been about 10 days in damp sand. There are 3 others, perhaps not sound, we will watch1

How could the plumule of Delphinium nudicaule get out, but through the united petioles.?2

I sent you—to laugh at a notice in The Nation., of a Philadelphia lawyer’s Refutation of Darwinism. The adage is that “a Philadelphia Lawyer is a match for the Devil”. But a mere imp is a match for this one.3

As to the names of the species by the seeds, it is not clear— But, according to Watson, who has done his best with them, the one with large ovate turgid seeds rather pointed at one end, the germination of which is figured in Amer. Jour. Sci. & in Text-Book is Megarrhiza Californica, I suppose.4

The M. Oregana has flattish seeds;5

I have stopped & looked into this matter. There are two species clear.

1. A Californian one (M. Californica, with obovoid seeds & hilum at the small end—well figured by Naudin in Ann. Sci. Nat. ser. 4, 12, t. 9. The last seeds sent you must be of this, & it must include at least Watson’s M. Californica & M. muricata.6

2. M. Oregana, with oblate and flatter seeds, the hilum at middle of a long side, seed sent. And these seeds, supplied by a florist—must have come from Oregon.

The particular source of the seeds I germinated is uncertain, but surely Californian. If from San Francisco then probably M. Marah, a 3rd species. We will try to get them in cultivation. But tho’ they will grow here, we have not been able to flower them!

Yours ever | A. Gray


Sends seeds of Megarrhiza and gives details of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 209.6: 202
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12532,” accessed on 11 April 2021,