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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   7 November [1861]


Nov. 7th.

My dear Hooker

Since writing this morning, I have been thinking if you send me more Masdevallia, the flowers had better be oldish ones instead of a bud—1 There is something absolutely new to be made out about the action & structure of Rostellum.

C. Darwin

P.S. | I read last night your Fernando Po case. How wonderful it is! I wish to Heaven the transverse mountains were sure; it would be a superb case.2 But confound those Indian Islands.—3 Can these islands be a case like Madeira, according to Heer, which retains (from less severe struggle for life) for a longer period than on continent a past condition of things; ie of the Glacial Period—4 Hurrah   “Wriggler” stick to wriggling, it is a sublime art—


Hooker read a paper describing the vegetation of Clarence Peak, Fernando Po, to the Linnean Society of London on 7 March 1861 (Hooker 1862). The paper highlighted an affinity of the flora with that of East Africa and an almost total dissimilarity with the nearby Cape flora. Hooker suggested that this distributional relationship strongly favoured the possible existence of a chain of mountains crossing the unexplored area of central Africa. CD cited this information in the fourth edition of Origin, p. 445.
CD refers to the affinity, remarked on by Hooker, between the Clarence Peak flora and the floras of Madagascar, Mauritius, and Bourbon (Réunion) in the Indian Ocean (Hooker 1862, p. 3), for which Hooker’s proposed chain of mountains (see n. 2, above) could not alone account. A note pinned to CD’s copy of the issue of the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society containing Hooker’s article (DAR Library–CUL) reads: ‘With respect to Indian Isld. of Bourbon &c have they not retained the mundane vegetation of world during Glacial, like Madieira.—’
Heer 1857. CD’s abstract of Oswald Heer’s discussion of the fossil plants of Madeira is in DAR 74: 3–7.


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.


JDH’s Fernando Po case.

Madeiran fauna pre-glacial according to Oswald Heer.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 125
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3310,” accessed on 7 March 2021,

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