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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   1 May [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 1.

My dear Sir

Very many thanks for your two notes.—2

I shd. be very glad of three plants of Dionæa (for which I could pay & for Cypripedium)3 & as I shall not go to sea for my daughter’s sake till middle of June, the sooner I could have them the better, as I might try few experiments soon on them.4 But how on earth can they be packed?

The best address will be

Ch. Darwin Esqe

care of Mr Mitchell


per Railway Bromley


Pray thank Mr Crocker.—5

Also thank Mr Fitch (& ask him to keep memorandum.)6 I will not have the outline which does capitally done on wood yet, for I have been very unfortunate in my experimental plants dying, & I may not come to any sure conclusion & in this case should not publish.—

Nevertheless if your P. farinosa sends forth long-stamened & short-stamened flowers, I shd be infinitely obliged for 2 or 3 flowers of each kind to examine folded up in 2 or 3 green leaves & sent by Post.7

Thanks for references about nectaries. Kurr’s work you told me of before & I bought & have read it.—8 You will now be very busy with your Lecture9

with many thanks | Yours truly | Ch. Darwin


Dated by the reference to CD’s experiments on Dionaea, begun in the summer of 1860 (see nn. 3 and 6, below), and by the Darwins’ planned seaside visit (see n. 4, below).
Oliver’s ‘notes’ have not been found.
CD had asked Oliver to procure these plants for him (see letter to Daniel Oliver, 26 February [1861]).
The Darwins were planning a visit to the seaside in the hope that it would improve Henrietta Emma Darwin’s health. CD had been concerned about Henrietta’s ill health since the spring of 1860. See Correspondence vol. 8; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 [February 1861]. The visit had to be postponed until 1 July, when the family travelled to Torquay, Devon. See ‘Journal’ (Appendix II).
Charles William Crocker was the foreman of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. CD had solicited Crocker’s assistance in obtaining some young Dionaea plants (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Daniel Oliver, 16 November [1860]).
CD had asked Walter Hood Fitch to prepare drawings of Primula to illustrate the paper he was preparing on dimorphism in this genus (see letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 March [1861]).
CD read a paper on the dimorphic condition of Primula at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London in November 1861. Although P. farinosa is not mentioned in the paper, it is included in the revised and augmented version subsequently published in Forms of flowers (1877).
Kurr 1833. See letter to Daniel Oliver, 22 January [1861]. An annotated copy of this work is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Oliver had been appointed professor of botany at University College London in November 1860. According to an advertisement in the Athenæum, 27 April 1861, p. 545, Oliver’s course of lectures on botany ran from 1 May to the end of July 1861.


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

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Kurr, Johann Gottlob von. 1833. Untersuchungen über die Bedeutung der Nektarien in den Blumen: auf eigene Beobachtungen und Versuche gegründet. Stuttgart: Henneschen Buchhandlung.


Thanks W. H. Fitch for drawing for the Primula paper. Death of experimental plants delays publication.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 7 (EH 88205991)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3133,” accessed on 20 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9