skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To C. J. F. Bunbury   [before 9 May 1856]1

– List of Plants, common to Europe, observed by Meyer in Drége’s Cape collection: Flora B. 2. 1843. “Zwei pflanzengeograph. Documente.” s. 9.2

N. Certainly or probably naturalised by man’s intervention.

A. Aquatic or Marsh Plants.

S sea-side Plants

(?) Plants of which Mr Bunbury knows nothing.

Those unmarked will be the most striking cases of specific identity with Europe.3


The date is established by CD’s reference to a ‘list’ in the letter to C. J. F. Bunbury, 9 May [1856]. See also letter to C. J. F. Bunbury, 21 April [1856], in which CD asked for Bunbury’s assistance in comparing the floras of South Africa and Europe.
Drège 1843 included an introduction by Heinrich Friedrich Meyer.
There follows a list of ninety-six plant species copied by an amanuensis from Drège 1843. The list has been annotated by Bunbury using the symbols listed by CD. Ten species also have had ‘(S. Am.)’ written next to them by Bunbury. At the bottom of the list, Bunbury added the following comments: I have added the mark (S. Am.) to those which I know to be found also in South America.— CB. Addenda to the above list. CB. Typha latifolia—A. Polypogon Monspeliensis. Lappago racemosa (=Cenchrus racemosus, L. Rubus fruticosus (according to Ecklon & Zeyher, but I will not undertake to answer for its absolute identity with the British plant.) The reference is to Ecklon and Zeyher 1835–7. The list was also annotated by CD after it was returned by Bunbury. CD referred to this list and to Bunbury’s analysis in Natural selection, p. 552, where he stated: Some are littoral plants which may possibly have travelled by the coast; about 14 are aquatic or marsh plants which seem to have, as we have seen, some special means of diffusion; but 30 plants apparently do not come under either of these categories & I should infer (if really not naturalized by man’s agency) had migrated through the tropics during the cold period.


Drège, Jean François. 1843. Zwei pflanzengeographische Dokumente. With an introduction by Ernst Friedrich Heinrich Meyer. Flora, oder allgemeine botanische Zeitung. Suppl. to n.s. 1: 1-200.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Adds comments to a list of Cape of Good Hope plants which are also European and gives some additions to the list [see Natural selection, p. 552].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles James Fox Bunbury, 8th baronet
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 73: 159
Physical description
AmemS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1617,” accessed on 25 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6