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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   4 September 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

4. IX. 1862

Dear Sir

I have been looking amongst the herbaceous beds & enclose a few Lythraceae & Onagraceae which may interest you a little.1

Our Lythrums—forms of L. salicaria I daresay most of them—are going back. Lopezia (Onagr.) is a curious thing, but I never studied its economy. I do not recollect any additional plants with 2-colored anthers tho’ I think they might be looked for amongst tetramerous genera with 8 stamens & pentams. with 10—as in the latter—Saxifrages—in former Melastæ. or Onagracæ.—

I fancy the colour of anthers may be used by some botanists in discriminating critical species—as in Drosera rotundifolia (“white”) & D. intermedia (“yellow”).

Clarkia elegans—of which a scrap is put in may be the same with your plant.—2

I am busy examing. wood structure of Dr. Hooker’s Welwitschia.3 It is very curious & puzzling. I did hope to have visited Mull with Dr. H. to see the place where the Duke Argyle found the Tertiary leaf-prints, but have had to give it up,—having left too early4

Very sincerely yours | Danl. Oliver

Chas. Darwin, Esq.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘seeds of L. Hyssopifolium5 | pay 10d.—’6 ink


CD was working on trimorphism in Lythrum salicaria. In the letter to Daniel Oliver, 2 September [1862], he asked Oliver to send him fresh flowers of any of the Lythraceae, and also asked if Oliver knew the names of any plants possessing differently coloured anthers (see letter to Daniel Oliver, 2 September [1862]). In DAR 27.2 (ser. 2): 17, there are notes, dated 5 September 1862, describing a fresh flower of Lythrum hyssopifolia from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The same sheet records notes on specimens of L. pubescens and L. acuminatum with the comment: ‘These are perhaps Vars. of L. salicaria.—’ On 5 September, CD also recorded observations on other specimens from Kew: Cuphea lanceolata and C. ignea, which are members of the Lythraceae (DAR 109 (ser. 2): 2), and Lopezia, which belongs to the Onagraceae (DAR 205.8: 3).
See letter to Daniel Oliver, 2 September [1862] and n. 7. CD initially identified the specimen as Clarkia elegans, but later corrected it to C. pulchella (see DAR 48: 50).
Joseph Dalton Hooker was preparing a monograph on the Angolan plant, Welwitschia mirabilis (J. D. Hooker 1863a; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862). Oliver was an assistant in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Oliver refers to the discovery of Tertiary fossil leaf-beds on the Isle of Mull by one of the tenants of George Douglas Campbell, eighth duke of Argyll (G. D. Campbell 1851). Hooker had left London for Scotland on 23 August 1862 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862).
CD apparently intended to pay Oliver the cost of postage for the specimens that he had sent (see n. 1, above).


Campbell, George Douglas. 1851. On tertiary leaf-beds in the Isle of Mull. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 7: 89–103.


Sends flowers with anthers of two colours.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 173: 17
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3711,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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