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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [14 November 1858]1

There are 84 genera common to Europe & marked x = extra-tropical or chiefly so.— Could there be any (certainly few I presume) genera added to these, equally extratropical, but found only in Asia or North America, for they would in fact come into same category.

These 84 genera (or more, if there are N. Asiatic or N. American genera) contain how many species in Australia? And of such species in these 84 genera, how many are endemic to Australia & how many common to Europe (& N. Asia or N. America)?

This would be very interesting to me, as it would show how many species had probably been there manufactured since glacial Epoch.—2

Of the species included in the 84 genera how many are annual? Is it a large proportion compared to the proportion in Europe? This bears on passage of the Tropics: but perhaps it would be best to take only the species which are terrestrial.3

In your list of species common to (Victoria & Tasmania) & Europe. Are those marked ** lowland Indian plants;4 I suppose so.— It would greatly add to interest of list to me, if you would append

dot in circle

for annual & some mark for aquatic & sub-aquatic. Was it not very difficult to eliminate the introduced plants.?

CD annotations

1.2 Could there … category 1.4] ‘Haloragis, Microtis, &c see list on small paper’ ink
2.1 These 84 … Australia? 2.2] ‘I have added the numbers’ ink
2.2 And of … Australia 2.3] ‘I have added the number (approx) to each genus’ ink
2.3 & how many … Europe)?] ‘these are in the European lists of species!’ ink
4.1 Is it a large proportion 4.2] underl; ‘A great proportion of both are herbaceous weeds, but few are true annuals,— Consult Loudon5 in which all will be found—’ ink
5.2 lowland] ‘Yes mostly.’ ink
5.4 the introduced plants.?] underl; ‘No I have very few dubious & have marked all that are possibly introduced’ ink
CD note: It would be interesting to see whether same genera or orders have varied into species in S. America & Australia. | What does Temperate India mean | Is not the **extra-tropical [interl] resemblance of Cape & SW Australia due to Glacial epoch as shown by character of Abyssinian Flora & on W. African Hills?6


This is an enclosure that was sent with the letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 November [1858] (Correspondence vol. 7). It is a series of questions and comments on lists of European species found in south-west Australia and Tasmania, and European genera found in Australia; the lists were sent to CD with the letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 November 1858 (Correspondence vol. 7). These lists have not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL; however, copies that CD had made are in DAR 50: E61–74. Hooker’s replies to CD’s questions were made on the same sheet as the questions and have been transcribed as annotations.
CD discussed the possibility that plants from Europe had crossed the equator during the glacial period and colonised parts of the southern hemisphere in Origin, pp. 374–82; see also Natural selection, pp. 534–54.
CD was told by Hugh Falconer that the damp heat of the tropics was destructive to perennials from a temperate climate (Origin, p. 378). In addition, CD made a distinction in Origin between the dispersal of terrestrial and aquatic plants (see Origin, pp. 386–8).
According to CD, the plants from temperate regions that had crossed the equator would ascend the mountains as warmth returned, and be exterminated in the lowlands (Origin, p. 378). Hooker had discussed the possibility of plants passing through India and other countries when dispersing from Europe to Australia (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 November 1858.)
Hooker refers to Loudon 1841; there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 504–6).
CD discusses the flora of Abyssinia and north-west Africa in Natural selection, pp. 551, 552 and n. 1; see also Origin, p. 375. In his letter to C. F. J. Bunbury, 21 April [1856] (Correspondence vol. 6), CD referred to Abyssinia as a ‘channel of communication’ during the glacial period. See also Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [November 1858], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 December 1858.


An enclosure sent with the letter to JDH, 14 November [1858] (Correspondence vol. 7) - questions and comments on lists of European species found in south-west Australia and Tasmania, and European genera found in Australia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Source of text
DAR 50: E55–6
Physical description
2pp † (JDH) CD note

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2361F,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)