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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   9 October 1862


Oct 9. 62

My Dear Father,

I am horribly disgusted at such a blunder. I know how it is now, and can soon put it right. I marked them them with strings 1, 2, 3, at first I meant to mark them 1 for L. p. 2. mP. 3. S. p.; I have a sort of feeling now, that you mentioned the contrary way, and that I took to it; but in making them up for you I forgot that I had changed.

So that in what I sent you, the M.P. are right; I have looked at the M.P again and what I call L.p. are S.p., and the S.p’s are

I have just carefully looked at my branches, I have not the slightest doubt that such is the case, as in what I supposed S.p. I found one or two pods with a great long pistil standing out as plain as possible.

I will pick you out some pods of each this evening and send them.

But if you feel certain, there are some of each sort mixed together. I am utterly gumflustergated, as I took most particular care and if it is so, two branches must have grown together— I can easily go and get some more, if you feel any doubts about what I am going to send you.

Do you want the seed measured by lines of about 50 pods or how many?2

Your affect Son WED


CD had asked William to send seed-pods of the long-pistilled, middle-pistilled, and short-pistilled forms of Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), and to mark them respectively with three strings, two strings, and one string (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to W. E. Darwin, [2–3 August 1862]). William had sent the pods in separate envelopes (see this volume, Supplement, letter from W. E. Darwin, [5 October 1862]), but reversed CD’s method for labelling the different types.
In ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, p. 172, CD mentioned that the seeds of the different forms had been measured and weighed.


‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


Discusses length of pistils, and measuring seeds and pods for botanical work.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 7)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3754F,” accessed on 30 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)