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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   [29 September 1860]1

15 Marine Parade | Eastbourne


My dear Sir

I really thought that I should give no more trouble. But I have strongest wish to observe structure of Dionæa, now that I know Drosera so well.2 Is it a very precious plant? Could a living plant be packed so as to come here by Railway & could I keep it alive for week or two in sitting room? If so, would you be so kind as to give me address of any nurseryman where I could purchase a plant. Or if there are several plants at Kew, would you read this note to Sir William3 & ask him whether he could lend me a plant, which should be returned (carriage free) to Kew; but I should require to gather & dissect some leaves. I want to compare structure of hairs of Dionæa & Drosera, & especially to see whence the fluid is secreted in Dionæa, which is said to bathe the flies caught by it.

The fluid in Drosera is acid & has curious antiseptic powers on meat. Pray forgive me. I would just as soon purchase as borrow: I only mention Kew in case the plant is not to be easily purchased & in case of there being several plants at Kew. How I should like to see a fly caught by it!

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter to Daniel Oliver, 5 October [1860]. The Saturday before 5 October 1860 was 29 September.
CD had inquired about Dionaea muscipula, or the Venus’s fly-trap, earlier in the month. See letter to Daniel Oliver, 11 September [1860].
William Jackson Hooker was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Requests Dionaea now that he knows Drosera so well. Wants to compare fluids secreted; in Drosera they are acid and have antiseptic effect on meat.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 15 (EH 88205999)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2941,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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