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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Friedrich Hermann Gustav Hildebrand   14 July 1862


July 14th | 1862.


Professor Treviranus informed me, that after having asked him to translate your work on the fertilisation of Orchids you had made an agreement with the late Professor Bronn on the same matter.1 Very likely Professor Bronn has not finished the translation or even begun it before his death, and I should feel very honoured if I could be of any use to you in the same way. Professor Treviranus thinks me fit to make the translation, but I must say that I should not be able to begin it before the end of September.— I have presumed to send you a copy of a little work of mine on the Distribution of Coniferous Plants, hoping that it might interest you in some way.2

I have the honour to be | Sir | yours | respectfully | Dr Hildebrand | Privat Docent of Botany | at the University.3 | Bonn.


CD had apparently written to Ludolph Christian Treviranus, professor of botany at the University of Bonn, asking him whether he would be willing to translate Orchids into German, only to discover that Heinrich Georg Bronn, through whom he had arranged for the edition to be published by the Stuttgart publishing company, E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, had already almost completed a translation (see letter from H. G. Bronn, 21 June 1862 and n. 2). Bronn died on 5 July 1862, shortly after completing his translation (Bronn trans. 1863; see letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 11 July 1862 and n. 2).
Hildebrand 1861. In this paper, Hildebrand stated that CD’s doctrine of common descent helped to explain the geographical distribution of the Coniferae (Hildebrand 1861, p. 381); it was one of the first botanical papers published in Germany to support CD’s theory. There is a copy of Hildebrand 1861 in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 380).
Hildebrand had been a student of Treviranus at the University of Bonn. In 1860, he became a Privatdozent (lecturer) in botany at the University (see Correns 1916).


Correns, C. 1916. Friedrich Hildebrand. Berichte der deutschen botanischen Gesellschaft 34 (pt 2): 28–49.

Hildebrand, Friedrich. 1861. Die Verbreitung der Coniferen in der Jetztzeit und in den früheren geologischen Perioden. Verhandlungen des naturhistorischen Vereines der preussischen Rheinlande und Westphalens 18: 199–384.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

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.


Offers to translate Orchids, since H. G. Bronn has died.

Letter details

Letter no.
Friedrich Hermann Gustav (Friedrich) Hildebrand
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 199
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3658,” accessed on 21 June 2021,

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