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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   27 February 1862


Feb 27/62

Dear Darwin

I am greatly pleased & indeed relieved by your letter.1 for no one but Oliver (who can judge) has pronounced any opinion on my Greenland paper,2 & I find that one is so easily deceived as to the value of such researches, that I was any thing but sanguine of your approval. You have caught me up in a great blunder at p. 264. where the 4 should be 0.—3 on turning to the proof sheets (which I have kept) I find both this & the fig 8. of same line (which should have been 5) marked by myself for correction: but the correction not inserted by some accident of my own. I must correct it in the forthcoming number. it is very awkward & stupid.

I do not attach much importance to there being no Arctic Asiatic species in mts. of trop. Asia, both considering how low latter are & because Arctic Asia is itself so wretchedly poor a flora.— & it is quite met by the fact of such an Arctic European species being in the Mts of the Peninsula (which is not in Himalaya!—) as Alchemilla vulgaris, which seems to indicate some current of migration from Europe or W. asia down S.E. to Peninsula & Ceylon. & is an awful staggerer to bridge migrations.

I will send you Lythrum &c. as soon as weather improves   I fear Masdevallia is all out of flower but will see & let you have the plant if worth sending on4

I have a hazy recollection of Link’s speculation. where is it?5

I think with you that it is perhaps better not to bring a resume of sexual orchids before Linnæan; but wish indeed you will give us a note on our trimorphous Gongora of Schomburgk,6 which Bentham & I certainly should like to see noticed, however shortly, in our Journal or Transactions.7 It has long been considered as one of the most wonderful things in the Society’s possession: & the explanation of it should certainly appear in our publications.

Do not bother any more about the box, the irregularity was of our Rail-way here in not sending a Rl. ticket—8which reminds me that you should not prepay every thing as you do: there is not the least occasion for it.

I suppose you will hardly be able to get up to Oliver’s Lecture on Tertiary Floras, at R.I. next Friday. Evg.9

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

0.3 Dear … stupid. 1.8] crossed brown crayon
1.5 where … 0.—] two crosses in margin, pencil
1.6 fig … 5)] two crosses in margin, pencil
2.4 as … vulgaris, 2.5] two crosses in margin, pencil
3.1 I will … Lythrum] underl brown crayon
3.1 I will … Hooker 8.1] crossed brown crayon
4.1 I have … speculation.] two crosses in margin, pencil
Top of letter: ‘Primula | Glycerine | Crocker’ pencil


J. D. Hooker 1861a. Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver, his colleague at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Link 1821. CD mentioned Heinrich Friedrich Link’s speculation that a ‘former colder climate’ could account for the similarities between Alpine and Arctic plants in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 February [1862].
Hooker refers to an apparently monstrous form of orchid found by Robert Hermann Schomburgk in British Guiana, that bore three distinct flowers, at the time considered to represent three separate genera, namely Catasetum tridentatum, Monachanthus viridis, and Myanthus barbatus (Schomburgk 1837). Catasetum tridentatum and Monachanthus viridis are synonyms of Catasetum macrocarpum, the jumping orchid; Myanthus barbatus is a synonym of Catasetum barbatum, the bearded catasetum.
CD read a paper on the trimorphic Catasetum before the Linnean Society of London on 3 April 1862 (‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum); it was published in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. George Bentham was president of the Linnean Society and Hooker vice-president.
Daniel Oliver’s lecture, ‘On the distribution of northern plants’, was delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 7 March 1862 (Oliver 1862a). CD did not attend.


Link, Heinrich Friedrich. 1821. Die Urwelt und das Alterthum, erläutert durch die Naturkunde. Berlin. [Vols. 8,10]

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]

‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum’: On the three remarkable sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, an orchid in the possession of the Linnean Society. By Charles Darwin. [Read 3 April 1862.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. [Collected papers 2: 63–70.]


Pleased at CD’s opinion of his Arctic plants paper. CD has caught great blunder.

Lack of Arctic–Asiatic species in mountains of tropical Asia does not trouble him. Species seem to indicate some "current of migration" from Europe and W. Asia southeastward to Ceylon – an awful staggerer to bridge migrations.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 15–16
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3461,” accessed on 3 February 2023,

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