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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [16 May 1862]1

Royal Gardens Kew | Kew


My dear Darwin

I have dissected the Leschenaultia Flowers very carefully—2 I can find no trace whatever of stigma within the indusium, there is certainly no naked surface there such as I saw in the former plant I dissected—3 I find the cuticle continuous every where down to the chink at the base.

The tissue under the cuticle of the indusium inside is not stigmatic, though it is of very large delicate utricles such as lead the way to stigmatic tissue, & this tissue on the side next the glandular surface is continuous to the latter & thus deliquesces into a viscid surface quite stigmatic in many characters, though I do not see the long utricles so characteristic of most stigmatic tissues.

There is no doubt then that the external viscid surface is the apparent stigma. I have failed to prove it to be the real one—for—I find no pollen tubes in it, nor any protruded from the pollen grains, nor do I find any pollen grain either inside or outside indusium that has protruded a tube.

Then again I cannot find any stigmatic tissue in the style— There is a large hollow canal all the way down, communicating with the chink at the bottom of the indusium—but I have failed to trace any communication between this & the tissues of the apparent stigma.— To our shame, we have hardly a Goodeniaceous plant in the Garden, & none in good state. Poor Smith, our always wholly inefficient curator, is now half blind.—4

Ever yrs aff | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 Leschenaultia] ‘biloba’ interl pencil !alignleft!3.1 the external … stigma.] scored pencil
4.4 To our … blind.— 4.6] crossed pencil


Dated by the relationship to the letters to J. D. Hooker, 1 May [1862], 9 May [1862], and [18 May 1862]. The Friday following 9 May 1862 fell on 16 May 1862.
CD had asked Hooker to examine the stigma of Leschenaultia biloba in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 May [1862], and, at Hooker’s request, had sent him flowers for the purpose (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [5 May 1862], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862] and 15 [May 1862]).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 May [1862] and n. 2. Hooker had examined Leschenaultia formosa at CD’s request in April 1860, and had reported: ‘There is a perfectly good & normal stigmatic surface … where it ought to be, at the base of the cup inside, on each lip … These surfaces are bona fide structurally, i.e. histologically “stigmatic’” (Correspondence vol. 8, letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 April 1860], and Hooker’s diagram, dated 29 April 1860, in CD’s Experiment book (DAR 157a)). Hooker had also stated his conviction ‘that the external viscid surfaces … have nothing whatever to do with the stigmatic surfaces’.
John Smith had been the curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for twenty years (R. Desmond 1994).


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

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.


Has dissected Leschenaultia biloba flowers. Finds no stigmatic surface in the indusium. Describes what is the apparent stigma but has found no pollen-tubes to confirm it as the real one.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.11: 27 (EH 88206079))
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3530,” accessed on 7 October 2022,

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