skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   28 [December 1861]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I hope & suppose that my note was in time to stop you searching for Gongora. By Jove what a strange creature Gongora is! It has good masculine organs & cannot be female of Acropera; indeed I shd. not be surprised if it, also, turned out a male orchid.—1 Thank Heaven I shall soon go to press & finish with my Hobby-horse.2 I see Oliver is going to lecture at Royal Institution on Northern plants; & I am very glad to hear it.3 I hope “Atlantis” will get a good sinking.4 These enormous continental extensions are quite an article of faith with many. Little Woodward is quite contemptuous if I hint my doubts about any island whatever having been an island within the whole recent period.—5

By the way tell Oliver that his note about Acropera ovules has been very useful to me; & I have had another good look; & I believe the membranous fringes are placentæ with no ovules or merest rudiments.6

I have written to Mr Gower to thank him about Victoria fact;7 but further experiments would be requisite for any trust. I wrote carelessly about the value of Phanerogams; what I was thinking of was that the sub-groups seemed to blend so much more one into another than with most classes of animals.8 I suspect Crustacea would show more differences in the extreme forms than Phanerogams; but as you say it is wild speculation. Yet it is very strange what difficulty Botanists seem to find in grouping the Families together into masses.

There is a great deal in Lecoq about colour of flowers in Latitude from Lapland to S. of Spain.9 He shows that white flowers increase to N. but (I think) no very great difference in proportion of red & blues.—

Ever yours | C. Darwin


See letters to Daniel Oliver, 30 November [1861], to J. D. Hooker, 18 [December 1861], and to John Lindley, 24 December [1861].
Orchids was published by John Murray in May 1862.
Daniel Oliver read a paper on the distribution of northern plants at a Friday evening lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in March 1862 (Oliver 1862b). He maintained that the pattern of distribution of plants in northern Europe, North America, and Asia could be better explained by postulating that migration occurred via a former land connection in the area of the Bering Straits rather than by assuming a hypothetical Atlantic communication between Europe and America.
A full account of Oliver’s criticism of the ‘Atlantis’ hypothesis was published later in 1862 (Oliver 1862a). See also letter to Daniel Oliver, 30 November [1861] and n. 7.
CD probably refers to the geologist and naturalist Samuel Pickworth Woodward.


Lecoq, Henri. 1854–8. Études sur la géographie botanique de l’Europe et en particulier sur la végétation du plateau central de la France. 9 vols. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

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.


Gongora cannot be female of Acropera; it may itself be a male.

Hopes Daniel Oliver will "sink Atlantis" in his Royal Institution lecture.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 139
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3352,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

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