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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [1 January 1862]1

Dear Darwin

The Heterocentron is just out of flower, but more flowers will be open in a day or two   I send Centradenia grandiflora & floribunda;2 would you care for a tetrandrous Melast.   a Sonerila is now in flower.3

I send Eulophia viridis.4

Borrer is a very nice man, but very aged indeed—5 he will be delighted to send you seeds— he is a man of large property & a wonderfully acute British Botanist of the old school— Borrer & my Father traversed Scotland on horse-back in 1810! & explored Sutherland—6

Ev Yrs affec | J D H

What is the matter with your boys?7

CD annotations

Top of page: ‘4’8 brown crayon, circled brown crayon


Dated by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, [30 and 31 December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9), and by the reference to Hooker sending specimens of Centradenia grandiflora and C. floribunda (see n. 2, below).
Hooker was assistant director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; there are observational notes, dated ‘Jan 2d.’, on specimens of these two species supplied from Kew, in DAR 205.8: 16. See also n. 3, below.
CD had asked Hooker to arrange for specimens of Heterocentron and other members of the Melastomataceae to be sent to him (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, [30 and 31 December 1861]). In October 1861 CD had begun to investigate the occurrence of two different sets of stamens in the flowers of these plants, the structure and colour of the stamens facing the petals often differing from that of those facing the sepals (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 November [1861] and n. 14). He suspected that the Melastomataceae might exhibit a novel form of dimorphism (see letter to George Bentham, 3 February [1862]), and continued to work on the family throughout 1862 and 1863 without ultimately being able to account for the two sets of stamens (see Cross and self fertilisation, p. 298 n., and ML 2: 292–302). CD’s notes from these experiments are in DAR 205.8.
Hooker offered CD a specimen of Eulophia viridis (an unpublished combination, possibly a reference to E. viridiflora, a synonym of E. epidendraea) in his letter of [29 December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9); CD accepted his offer in the letter to J. D. Hooker, [30 and 31 December 1861] (ibid.). The species is discussed in Orchids, pp. 189 and 283.
CD asked about the propriety of requesting seeds or plants from William Borrer in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 18 [December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9). Borrer, a wealthy botanist with an extensive plant collection, was 80 years old.
William Jackson Hooker made two successive botanical excursions through Scotland for his Flora Scotica (W. J. Hooker 1821); he referred to his trip with Borrer in ibid., p. ix. In his memoir of his father, Joseph Hooker gave the date of this excursion as 1808 (J. D. Hooker 1903, p. xiii).
In the letter to J. D. Hooker, [30 and 31 December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9), CD mentioned that two of his sons were ‘bad’. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), 30 December 1861, both Francis and Horace Darwin were ‘feverish’.
This number probably relates to one of CD’s portfolios of notes.


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

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1903. A sketch of the life and labours of Sir William Jackson Hooker, … late director of the Royal Gardens of Kew. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

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.


Sends plant specimens. William Borrer will be glad to send seeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 5
Physical description
ALS 1p †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3373,” accessed on 24 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10