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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   3 March 1862


March 3d/62

My dear Darwin

I think my last letter must have crossed yours, in wh I made it clear that all B. cares about is a notice however short of the trimorphous plant in the Societys possession appearing in Linn. Journal or Transactions—1 a verbatim copy of your obsns. in your book would do quite well.2 You will never be able to give up orchids once you have begun them & I have no doubt we shall have plenty papers on them from you— I am mighty curious to see your little book & prepared to devour it with eagerness.

I am really sorry about the blunder in my Arctic paper (& in anticipation for the others you will find) but it is of mighty little consequence, you being the only one who has found it out.—3 it is well this should be so— I should never have written such papers but for you: & the evulgation of your views is the purest pleasure I derive from them—

I am staggered equally with you by the idea that Greenland ought to have been depopulated during the Glacial period: but if so how is it that its temperate flora is no richer than its arctic— if it had been populated by migration since the glacial epoch, surely some species suited to the south end would have got over there— there are plenty such in Iceland.— then again the absence of Caltha, anywhere in Greenland & other plants that swarm elsewhere all round the circle, is as fatal as any indirect evidence can be to the population of the whole by chance migration— If you intend to ask me when we meet how I account for richness of Lapland Flora, I will take care to flee your presence.—4 I am utterly at sea when I attempt to jog out of the quiet locus standens—of Lapland being the focus for the lattermost migration. I grant that the idea may be utterly false, of its being the centre   I have some vague notion that the preglacial focus of Scandinavian plants was a terra polaris, that united Greenland, Iceland & Scandinavia (not perhaps in latitude but somehow). What it may have embraced to the N. of America & Asia I neither know nor care: for it is quite clear that there have been very great modern changes of level amongst the Polar American Islands, which I suppose are rising. I only call this vegetation Scandinavian because it is now represented best in Scandinavia & this partly because of present climate of Scandinavia & partly because of its mts. having afforded a favoring climate to said plants during post glacial warm period.

I cannot too strongly impress the fact that Greenland is unaccountably poor in plants.— its comparatively equable (for an Arctic) climate is singularly favorable for a northern Flora. In summer the line of perp. snow in Disco is above 4000 feet I am told. Just look again at the list of Arctic species at p. 272, found in Europe & America but not in Greenland.

I have not a shadow of doubt about wholesale extinction in E.N. America.

Masdevallia has not a single flower. I shall try to recollect it next year.— the Lythrum &c shall go whenever the weather admits.5

If you take up G. Lewis Astronomy—I advise you to read only the Chapter VI.6

Has Etty read Miss Rogers “Domestic Life in Palestine7   it is charming to my mind.

Ever yours “by George” (only an expletive) | Jos D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 I think … yours,] cross in margin, pencil
1.1 I think … eagerness. 1.7] crossed brown crayon; ‘(1’ added in corner of page, brown crayon
1.6 I am … eagerness. 1.7] cross in margin, pencil
2.3 I should … you: 2.4] cross in margin, pencil
3.3 by migration … centre 3.11] ‘(2’ added in corner of page, brown crayon
3.5 then … migration— 3.7] cross in margin, pencil
3.11 I have … somehow). 3.14] double scored pencil
3.16 I only … Scandinavia 3.17] cross in margin, pencil
4.1 I cannot … whenever 6.2] ‘(3’ added in corner of page, brown crayon
6.1 Masdevallia … whenever 6.2] crossed pencil
6.2 the weather … Hooker 9.1] crossed brown crayon
End of letter: ‘Greenland good evidence that Arctic forms can live further South.’ ink


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 27 February 1862; CD’s letter has not been found. Hooker refers to George Bentham, president of the Linnean Society of London.
CD’s paper, ‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, was largely extracted from Orchids, pp. 236–48.
CD requested a specimen of the orchid Masdevallia fenestrata (a synonym of Zootrophion atropurpureum) and enclosed a list of other species he needed for experiment in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 February [1862]. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 27 February 1862. He had come across the ‘magnificent case’ of trimorphism in the genus Lythrum in December 1861, and had arranged for Hooker to send him specimens for investigation (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [and 26] January [1862]).
Lewis 1862. Chapter 6 is entitled ‘Early history and chronology of the Egyptians’.
Mary Eliza Rogers and Rogers [1861]. The reference is to Henrietta Emma Darwin, CD’s eldest daughter. Emma Darwin listed this book at the end of her diary for 1863 (DAR 242).


Lewis, George Cornewall. 1862. Historical survey of the astronomy of the ancients. London: Parker, Son, and Bourn.

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.

Rogers, Mary Eliza. [1861.] Domestic life in Palestine. London.

‘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.]


Had it not been for CD, JDH would never have written such papers as his one on Arctic flora. The "evulgation" of CD’s views is the purest pleasure he derives from them.

He too is staggered that Greenland ought to have been depopulated during the glacial period. Absence of Caltha is fatal to its re-population by chance migration.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 17–19
Physical description
ALS 6pp ††

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3465,” accessed on 21 February 2024,

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