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Darwin Correspondence Project

From D. F. Nevill   [before 22 January 1862]1

Dangstein | Petersfield

My dear Sir

I am most grateful for your most kind letter and the promise of the Photo.2 already I am making a place for it amongst my other friends   It has not arrived yet but I must be patient for I know in this dull weather they cannot make copies  

I grieve to say I have at present no melastomaceous plant in flower— We had a glorious Pleroma but it is over—3 My gardener says that he has observed that when the flower of the Cynoches is quite dry by the least touch the anther appears to go quite back with a jerk and at the same time it ejects its pollen which it throws on to the pistil4   I do not know whether I have described it rightly or not   I am most grateful for your little pamphlet5   We have had a house full but now that I am alone I mean to give great attention to it

Thanking you again many times | believe me | most truly yours | Dorothy


Dated by reference to CD’s interest in dimorphism (see nn. 3 and 4, below) and by the relationship to the letter to D. F. Nevill, 22 January [1862].
CD’s letter has not been found. It was probably a response to the letter from Dorothy Frances Nevill, [before 22 January 1862]
CD was investigating dimorphism in plants and began to examine the Melastomataceae in October 1861, believing them to exhibit a novel form of this phenomenon (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 January 1862] and n. 3).
CD had learned that, as with Catasetum and Mormodes, the pollinia of the orchid Cycnoches are violently ejected if the column is touched; he was anxious to study the mechanism, and had sought specimens and observations from Joseph Dalton Hooker (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 6–7 October [1861], 11 October [1861], and 13 October [1861]). In his letters to D. F. Nevill, 12 November [1861] and 19 November [1861] (ibid.), CD had requested specimens of Mormodes and Cycnoches.
The reference is probably to ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula although Nevill’s name is not on CD’s presentation list for the paper (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix III).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]


Thanks for promise of photograph.

Has no melastomads in bloom.

Describes sensitive anthers of Cynorchis.

Thanks CD for "your little pamphlet".

Letter details

Letter no.
Dorothy Fanny Nevill
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Dangstein, Petersfield
Source of text
DAR 172: 26
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3408,” accessed on 29 July 2021,

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