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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   7 August [1856]1


Augt 7th

My dear Hooker

Hearty thanks for the Tristan list:2 it has cost you much trouble, but I trust & hope that it may be of use to yourself, & I will carefully return the M.S. at a future time with my own M.S.

You may well say that it would be a mystery if I could explain such facts; I expressly bring these antarctic cases forward as the most difficult to account for on any theory whatever;3 not excepting, as I imagine, even continental extension, but on this point I shall enter a note in my note-book to hear what you have to say, in the autumn, when we meet.— I believe much in Lyell’s iceberg action in bringing seeds, & now that I have put a good many facts together, it seems to me perfectly extraordinary if plants have not been sometimes thus transported;4 but I know that you do not believe in this.

The particular point in regard to Tristan which I wanted to know was whether there were more representative species of American parentage in Tristan than in Kerguelen,5 but of that we will talk— if that were to prove so, it would harmonise well with my notions; but I have not yet studied your M.S. which I am sorry to see includes a good many plants unknown to you.—

Farewell | My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin

I have read half your Review & like it very much. D.C. ought to be very much pleased;6 but I suppose the sugar is at the top & the sour at the bottom.


Dated by the relationship to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 10 July 1856, in which Hooker’s list of Tristan d’Acunha plants was also referred to, and by the reference to [J. D. Hooker] 1856 (see n. 6, below).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 [July 1856], n. 4. For CD’s difficulties in interpreting the flora of Tristan d’Acunha, see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 July [1856].
See Natural selection, pp. 560–5.
See Natural selection, pp. 561–2.
In CD’s discussion in his species book of extraordinary cases of distribution, he reported that twelve of the Tristan d’Acunha species were common to South America and seven Kerguelen Land plants common to Fuegia. ‘Hence’, CD wrote, ‘Tristan d’Acunha, like Kerguelen Land, is botanically more nearly related to Fuegia (from which it is almost 2300 miles distant) than to any other country’ (Natural selection, p. 561).
Hooker’s review of A. de Candolle 1855 ([J. D. Hooker] 1856).


Candolle, Alphonse de. 1855. Géographie botanique raisonnée ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle. 2 vols. Paris: Victor Mason. Geneva: J. Kessmann.

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.


Antarctic plants most difficult to account for on any theory. Lyell’s iceberg transportal of seeds.

Are there more representative species of American origin in Tristan da Cunha than in Kerguelen land?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 174
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1940,” accessed on 27 May 2022,

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