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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   [before 3 April 1858]1

[Gives a list of 146 genera taken from A. Gray 1856, indicating those species in each genus that could be considered closely related. CD has added to the manuscript the number of close species in each genus.]2

Of course I suppose most of the above are truly & originally distinct; some are probably not; a few pretty surely not.3


CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘April 1858’ink; ‘Last & Perfect list’ pencil
Top of last page: ‘April 1858’ink
Bottom of last page: ‘Mr Norman you will have then to subtract all the cases [’with‘ del] in genera with 4 species & add them to small side | also count how many species with 5 & how many of them when collected’4 pencil


Dated by the relationship to the following letter. CD evidently received this list from Asa Gray on 3 April 1858, although annotations on the letter give only ‘April 1858’ (see CD annotations). It is not possible to determine when Gray composed the list. CD had asked him to do so late in 1857 (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 29 November [1857]).
In November 1857, CD had asked Gray to think about close species (see n. 1, above) with reference to a list Gray had drawn up for CD in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to Asa Gray, 8 June [1855], and letter from Asa Gray, 30 June 1855). The first list (now in DAR 165: 92/3) was compiled from A. Gray 1848. The new list was taken from the second edition of this work (A. Gray 1856).
Apparently there was also a covering note sent by Gray with this list, which is now lost. CD sent the note on to Joseph Dalton Hooker (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 April [1858]).
CD’s annotation refers to the instructions he usually gave to Ebenezer Norman, who tabulated the catalogues and lists for CD. CD’s calculations on tables made from this list of close species are in DAR 16.2: 294–9.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Gray, Asa. 1848. A manual of the botany of the northern United States, from New England to Wisconsin and south to Ohio and Pennsylvania inclusive. Boston and Cambridge: James Monroe and Company. London: John Chapman.


List of close species taken from AG’s Manual of botany [1848].

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 165: 103
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2249,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7