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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   25 January 1859

Hendrefoilan Swansea

Jay 25/59

Dear Darwin

I am very greatly relieved & pleased by Wallaces letter which I have forwarded to Lyell1

I am here rusticating with my friends the Dillwyns2 & giving 3–4 hours a day steadily to my Australian Essay—which I hope may progress at last.3 Since seeing you I have seen a very intelligent Madras naturalist who confirms what I say of the Casuarina being truly naturalized in Madras— He tells me that other Australian plants are naturalized at Hyderabad & Bangalore, along with European (Plantago major) but I want more definite information. I do not know why you object to the Nilgherries—as localities for naturalization of Australian plants.4—they are vast upland areas where alone you have a climate for temperate Australian plants. I have been looking over the list of European naturalized plants of Australia & find almost all are social or roadside or cultivated-field plants of England, that must have been introduced over & over again into Australia & by hundreds of people— Consider how many thousand people have imported Europ. cerealia &c &c into Victoria & garden plants. According to your own theories these plants have adapted themselves to dressed or disturbed ground, & most are found no where else. In Australia there was no such ground till Europeans made it & it it would take centuries of civilization & cultivation to adapt any Australian plants to these habits of life. Out of a list of upwards of 100 naturalized European plants of Melbourne all, with very few exceptions, are plants that are scarcely ever found in England except where they have been brought by man or his agents.— they are field, cultivated, dung heap, wayside, cornfield or pasture plants: & would disappear if the Victoria colony was deserted, most certainly. Exceptions occur as Rosa rubiginosa, which is the only woody plant in my list of 100:

Alphonse DeCandolle has written asking me to help him to election as Foreign fellow of R.S. & referring me to you, Murchison & Lyell.5 I am greatly shocked, having always thought him too much of a gentleman, though I never gave him credit for overmuch modesty. I have been talking over the matter with Bentham & Lindley & we both agree that Asa Grays claims are out of sight superior, as also Grisebachs of Hanover.6 I think that A.G. should come in, & if I have an opportunity of mentioning it I would like to refer to you—7

Muellers death offers a vacancy & they want an American & a Botanists turn is more than passed.8

I am rejoiced at the award of the Wollaston medal.

From the old glacial moraines of Sikkim to Kangra is about 900 miles. I know of no more Westerly evidence9

Ever Yrs | Jos D Hooker

CD annotations

scored brown crayon
crossed ink
Top of first page: ‘20’10 brown crayon, partially circled brown crayon


The family of Lewis Weston Dillwyn lived near Swansea. Dillwyn, who died in 1855, had been a close friend of both Joseph Dalton Hooker and William Jackson Hooker.
Hooker 1859.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 December [1858], in which CD remarked that he would ‘strike my colours’ if there were many Australian plants naturalised on the Indian mountains. See also Origin, p. 375.
Hooker refers to the Swiss botanist Alphonse de Candolle and to Roderick Impey Murchison and Charles Lyell. Hooker stood down from the Royal Society’s council in November 1858.
Hooker refers to the botanists George Bentham, John Lindley, and August Heinrich Rudolf Grisebach.
Alphonse de Candolle was not elected a foreign member of the Royal Society until 1869. Asa Gray was elected in 1873 (Royal Society of London 1940).
The death in 1858 of Johannes Peter Müller, the German physiologist and comparative anatomist, had created a vacancy in the list of foreign members of the Royal Society, the maximum number of which was fifty.
See preceding letter. CD cited Hooker to this effect in Origin, p. 373.
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of plants.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Relieved by Wallace’s letter.

At work on introductory essay to Flora Tasmaniae.

European plants naturalised in Australia are almost all adapted to invading disturbed ground.

JDH supports Asa Gray against Alphonse de Candolle as foreign member of Royal Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 131–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2404,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

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