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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   13 September 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

13. IX. 1862

My dear Sir

I have given directions about saving seeds of Lythrum hyssopifolium.1

Your Diagram of L. Salicaria is very remarkable2   I think it will be a very serious labour & difficult too satisfactorily to settle such a complication.

I wonder did you ever think about Compositae3


Rolle is new to me,—the name I mean.—4 Bolle is a botanist who has worked on Atlantic Island botany.5

Pray excuse the dirty blot.— | Sincerely yours | Danl. Oliver.

Charles Darwin Esq

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘Keep. | Dimorphismink


At CD’s request, Oliver had sent him a number of fresh specimens of Lythrum with his letter of 4 September 1862, including the rare L. hyssopifolia, plants and seeds of which CD had attempted to obtain from several correspondents (see letter to C. C. Babington, 2 September [1862] and n. 3). CD had written again, in a letter that has not been found, apparently to ask Oliver to obtain seed of this species for him (see CD’s annotations to the letter from Daniel Oliver, 4 September 1862).
CD’s letter has not been found; however, see CD’s diagrams of Lythrum salicaria in the letter to W. E. Darwin, [2–3 August 1862], and in the letter to Asa Gray, [3–]4 September [1862].
Oliver refers to CD’s work on dimorphic and trimorphic plants. His diagrams represent cross-sections of the inflorescences of the Compositae, indicating the differences between the ray flowers and the disc flowers. From left to right they indicate: ray flowers bisexual, disc flowers bisexual; ray flowers female, disc flowers bisexual; ray flowers sterile, disc flowers bisexual; and ray flowers female, disc flowers male (all these combinations occur in Compositae).
The German geologist and palaeontologist, Friedrich Rolle, had apparently sent CD a copy of the first part of his popular exposition of CD’s theory (Rolle 1863; see letter to Daniel Oliver, [17 September 1862] and n. 10).
The German dendrologist and ornithologist, Carl August Bolle, had collected and identified plants in the Canary and Cape Verde islands (Taxonomic literature).


Rolle, Friedrich. 1863. Chs. Darwin’s Lehre von der Entstehung der Arten im Pflanzen- und Thierreich in ihrer Anwendung auf die Schöpfungsgeschichte. Frankfurt: J. C. Hermann.

Taxonomic literature: Taxonomic literature. A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types. By Frans A. Stafleu and Richard S. Cowan. 2d edition. 7 vols. Utrecht, Netherlands: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. The Hague, Netherlands: W. Junk. 1976–88.


Has given directions to save seeds of Lythrum hyssopifolium.

CD’s diagram of Lythrum salicaria is very remarkable. [See Collected papers 2: 107.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 111 (ser. 2): 60
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3718,” accessed on 15 May 2021,

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