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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Horace Darwin   4 September 1880


Sep 4th. 1880


In a bare place in fir woods rather higher up the valley than Zermatt (Zermatt is 5300 ft. above the sea) I found worm castings.1 Owing to the dryness of the ground and the powderiness of the castings it was difficult to be sure that they were wormcastings, but in some cases I was sure, but I should like to have seen some recent ones. They seemed to be in large quantities, but of this I could not be sure, as I could recognise them only in a few cases.

This was the only place in which I found any traces. I have looked carefully in the fields. I will observe more & especially after rain. The guide evidently knew earth worms & said they existed up as high as this2


Zermatt is a town in the Swiss Alps at the foot of the Matterhorn. Horace and Ida Darwin were on their honeymoon tour; see letter to F. M. Balfour, 4 September 1880 and n. 5.
CD described worm-castings in the Alps in Earthworms, pp. 12 and 279.


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.


Observations on earthworms.

Letter details

Letter no.
Horace Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 64.1: 34–5
Physical description
Amem 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12707,” accessed on 17 May 2022,