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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 [June 1860]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

Many thanks for your most interesting letter. I have often speculated loosely about Greenland, so shall be most curious to see your paper;1 as yet I have not digested your note.—

Etty makes a little progress certainly, but terribly slowly.—

My stomach has utterly failed; & I cannot think of Oxford; on Thursday I go for week of water-cure to “Dr Lanes, Sudbrook Park, Richmond Surrey”: please let me have line to say whether you will be at Kew on Thursday week July 5, or 6th or 7th; for on one of those days I shall return home & would come to Kew & spend one hour with you, with list of things to talk over & then by Railway home.— I should so enjoy this.—

I am very proud at being called a “spoiled Botanist”.

I have had such luck to day    saw two small Hymenopterous insects (Sphegidæ?) licking labellum & when they crawled in they touched the rostellum & came out with the pollen masses fixed on forehead.—2 On one of them when dead I saw mark where anther had been fixed.— One very minute insect of same Family, which had no business to attempt to walk was caught & fixed to rostellum & was dying there!

I think I have made out whole process as far as insects are concerned in Listera.—3

I was so proud, I dissected the stigmatic horns in Gymnanedia4 & found it penetrated by hundreds of pollen-tubes, which I traced up to pollen.—

Farewell    I will scribble no more.—   I am very curious about homologies of anthers of Listera, & must get you to explain further.—

Farewell | C. Darwin


Hooker’s letter has not been found. CD refers to Hooker 1862a. Hooker read this paper on the distribution of Arctic plants at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on 21 June 1860.
CD’s observations are given in Orchids, p. 146.
See Orchids, pp. 139–52.
CD’s observations on the pollen tubes of Gymnadenia are described in Orchids, p. 81.


Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Going for hydropathy. Too ill for Oxford BAAS meeting.

Pollination by minute insects.

CD proves his view regarding Goodenia stigmatic surfaces by dissection and following pollen-tubes up to grains.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 63
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2846,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8