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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [early December 1856]1

[Down]

My dear Hooker.

Will you return this to me. with any remarks?—2

A more curious case is offered by Podostemon, which Dr. Hooker informs me flowers with its corolla closed in the rocky beds of the rapid torrents of the Himalaya. From the habits of the Family to which it belongs, it probably never flowers in the open air; & as the corolla is closed it seems impossible that there should ever be a cross between two individuals.3

But Lindley (Veg. Kingdom p. 482)4 says the flowers of the species of the Family of Podostemaceæ are usually hermaphrodite, & as he says all the species are submersed it would appear (without there be some error) that there must be some means in the mono- or diœcious species, of the pollen being carried under water from flower to flower.—5

Can you illuminate me? For this in my present state of ignorance seems the strongest case of “Darwin, an eternal & necessary hermaphrodite”.—6

I send directed envelope to give as little trouble as possible—

Ever yours | C. Darwin

Footnotes

The conjectured date is suggested by CD’s interest in the possible crossing of plants that flower under water. See letters from C. C. Babington, 22 November 1856, and from H. C. Watson, 26 November 1856. CD referred to the crossing of these aquatic plants in Natural selection, p. 63. He recorded having completed the chapter on crossing on 16 December 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
The following paragraph was evidently intended by CD to form part of his chapter on crossing (see Natural selection, p. 63). The text was corrected by Hooker (see nn. 3 and 5, below) and presumably returned to CD. Further information was given in a letter from Hooker that may have accompanied the returned manuscript (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [early December 1856]).
CD put three reversed interrogation marks next to this sentence in the margin. Hooker deleted them when he made his revisions (see n. 5, below).
Lindley 1846, p. 482.
The statement, as revised by Hooker, reads: A more curious case is offered by Podostemon, some species of which Dr. Hooker informs me flowers with their corolla closed, in the rocky beds of the rapid torrents of the Khasia mountains in Eastern Bengal. The species referred to are annual, & only appear in the the rainy season when the torrents they inhabit are swollen for several months & they appear never to flower in the open air; & as the corolla is closed it seems impossible that there should ever be a cross between two individuals. The flowers of the species of the Family of Podostemaceæ of which there are many & several genera are almost invariably are hermaphrodite, but all the species are not submersed at the time of flowering some caulescent species raising their flower stalks above the water at that period: the Indian species however to which Dr Hooker refers grow appressed to the rocks & below a considerable depth of water It is not known whether the mono- or diœcious species admit of the pollen being carried under water from flower to flower or whether they are fecundated above its surface. For the final form of this paragraph, see Natural selection, p. 63.

Bibliography

Lindley, John. 1846b. The vegetable kingdom. London: the author.

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.

Summary

Sends JDH part of MS for chapter 3 of Natural selection ["Possibility of all organic beings crossing"] to be corrected and returned.

JDH’s report of Podostemon flowering cleistogamously under water in Bengal.

[Copious revision by JDH.]

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-1974
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Down
Source of text
DAR 205.5: 213
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1974,” accessed on 21 January 2020, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-1974.xml

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

letter