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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   25 October 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

Oct 25/62

Dr. Darwin

One short note only to say, that I sent as, directed, the other day, the Masdevallia 1 & plants of Desmod. gyrans & the sensitive plant.2 These last are tender sort of things, though very easy to manage—with plenty of humidity & heat—both thrive best with us standing over the tank in the hot Victoria House.3 I should suggest for your Experiments—standing the pot in a pan of warmed water—& a bellglass. I feel sure you must let both recover well & grow a bit before beginning for scarce any packing will prevent their suffering from the Journey. Tell me if they are packed well. I gave stringent orders about it.

Shall I grow some more Desmodiums & sensitives for you?

We are all well, but my wife complaining of headaches. Miss Henslow got safe to St Albans, & had no attack at all for a fortnight, but is bad again now (& still there)4   I was very averse to her going, but she would.

What a nice book Parrotts Ararat is; it is refreshing to read his simple faith in the ark being still under the snow!5 Wife saw Lyells yesterday all well.6

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Potato’7 brown crayon


CD’s letter has not been found. In his letter of 18 [October 1862], Hooker offered to send CD a flower or plant of Masdevallia from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
In September 1862, CD had carried out a series of experiments on the effects of various substances (chiefly poisons and narcotics) in modifying the responsiveness to various stimuli of the insectivorous plant Drosera rotundifolia (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 September [1862]), and had extended his interest to a number of other plant species, including Dionaea, Linum perenne, Oxalis acetosella and Trifolium repens (see the notes in DAR 54: 64–5 and DAR 60.1: 1–3). In the missing letter to Hooker, CD had apparently asked for specimens of the telegraph plant, Desmodium gyrans, and the sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica, in order to carry out similar experiments on them (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862] and n. 5). The account in Henslow 1837, pp. 165–6, of irritability in these species, is annotated in CD’s copy with suggestions for experiments and observations; CD’s copy of the work is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 369–71).
Victoria House was a hot-house with a circular tank, 36 ft in diameter, built in 1852 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to house the giant waterlily, Victoria regia (Bean 1908, p. 44).
One of Frances Harriet Hooker’s aunts, probably Anne Frances Henslow, had been unwell when she stayed with the Hookers in August (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862 and n. 4).
Friedrich von Parrot’s Reise zum Ararat (Parrot 1834), was translated into English in 1845 (Parrot 1845).


Bean, William Jackson. 1908. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: historical and descriptive. London, Paris, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: Cassell and Company.

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.

Parrot, J. J. F. W. (Friedrich) von. 1834. Reise zum Ararat. 2 vols. in 1. Berlin.

Parrot, J. J. F. W. (Friedrich) von. 1845. Journey to Ararat. London.


Has sent Masdevallia and other plants.

J. J. F. W. v. Parrot’s Ararat [(1834), trans. W. D. Cooley, in The world surveyed in the XIXth century, vol. 1 (1845)] refreshing in its simple faith in the ark.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 64–5
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3780,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

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