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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lindley   15 December [1861]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec 15

My dear Lindley

Very many thanks for the Bolbophyllum & I was glad to see the curious little flower. This genus rather puzzles me.—2

With many thanks | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S. | I am so nearly ready for press, that I will not ask for anything more; unless indeed you stumbled on Mormodes in flower.—

As I am writing I will just mention that I am convinced from rudimentary state of ovules, & from state of stigma, that whole plant of Acropera luteola (& I believe A. Loddigesii) is Male.3 Have you ever seen any form from same countries which could be females? Of course no answer expected unless you have ever observed anything to bear on this— I may add from state of ovules & of pollen, Catasetum tridentatum is Male (& never seeds according Schomburgk whom you have accidentally misquoted in Veg. K.)4   Monacanthus viridis is female, Myanthus barbatus is the Hermaphrodite form of same species.—


The year is provided by the reference to the publication of Orchids, which appeared in May 1862.
See letters to John Lindley, 16 November [1861] and 17 November [1861]. CD examined four species of Bolbophyllum, which are briefly described in Orchids, pp. 169–72.
CD refers to Schomburgk 1837, which was cited in Lindley 1853. The misquotation was Lindley’s statement that Robert Hermann Schomburgk found Catasetum to produce seeds abundantly and that he therefore thought it to be female (Lindley 1853, p. 178).


Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

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.

Schomburgk, Robert Hermann. 1837. On the identity of three supposed genera of orchideous epiphytes. [Read 15 November 1836.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 17 (1837): 551–2. [Vols. 9,10]


Thanks JL for a flower of Bolbophyllum, a genus that puzzles him.

Recent work has convinced him a number of orchids are male. Points out that JL [in The vegetable kingdom (1846), pp. 177–8] "accidentally misquoted" R. H. Schomburgk on this point.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lindley
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Lindley letters, A–K: 198)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3344,” accessed on 11 May 2021,

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