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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   3 November [1862]

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 3d.

My dear Hooker

I am going to give you two bothers.— (1st) Can you give me reference to Vol. (which I suppose I can get from Linn. Socy.) in Hooker’s Bot. Journal, in which Planchon gives monograph of Linum, & states that several species have long & short pistils.—1

(2nd) Can you supply me with seeds of any of enclosed list of plants, for experiment;2 I know it is mere chance if you have any: what I want most is any of the species of Oxalis & of the Boragineæ, especially Alkanna: it would hardly cost you a minute to look to reference in Prodromus, in the list sent me in a letter by Alp. De Candolle.3

So much for business. In a note the other day Asa Gray speaks of the Reviews of the Orchis Book in Gardeners’ Chronicle, as written by you.4 Is this possible? I assumed that they were by Lindley.5 They are gorgeous, but too strong. Nevertheless, on chance of their being yours I could not resist rereading them. If by you, it was too bad your not telling me; for I declare I value a word of praise from you more than from rest of world. But somehow I do not think they are by you. Well might A. Gray say “how they praise you.”— You must sometime tell me. I do not think you could possibly have spared time.—

I have been trying a little the Mimosa; but I hurt its constitution with too much chloroform. Desmodium won’t move,6 & I have sent it friend’s Hot house.—7 These experiments will be nice little amusement for me; after my dull daily work. Now I am compiling on vegetables & fruit-trees; & awful work it is drawing any conclusions from my mass of references & notes.—8

Do you remember the scarlet Leschenaultia formosa, with the sticky margin outside the indusium; well this is the stigma, at least I find the pollen-tubes here penetrate & no where else.9 What a joke it would be if stigma is always exterior;10 & this by far greatest difficulty in my crossing notions shd. turn out a case eminently requiring insect aid, & consequently almost inevitably insuring crossing. By the way have you any other Goodenia, which you could lend me besides Leschenaultia & Scævola, of which I have seen enough.—11

I had long letter the other day from Crocker of Chichester;12 he has real spirit of experimentalist, but has not done much this summer.

Do you know whether there are two Revd Prof. Haughtons at Dublin; one of this name has made a splendid medical discovery of nicotine counteracting strychnine & tetanus;13 Can it be my dear friend? if so, he is at full liberty for the future to sneer & abuse me to his heart’s content.14

I had a nice letter two or three weeks ago from Asa Gray, who seems as politically rabid as ever; he says 910 of property & 45 of northern men (or some such proportion) may be destroyed before, as he hopes, the war will be given up. He owns it is a far tougher job than he anticipated.15

Farewell. I hope Mrs Hooker16 is going on pretty well. We are rather brighter. Farewell | my dear old friend | C. Darwin

I hope to Heaven Masdevallia got safe home.—17


Planchon 1847–8 appeared in volumes 6 and 7 of the London Journal of Botany. After 1848, the London Journal of Botany was continued as Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany (BUCOP); both journals were edited by Hooker’s father, William Jackson Hooker. CD cited Planchon 1847–8 in ‘Two forms in species of Linum, p. 81 (Collected papers 2: 103–4), which was written between 11 and 21 December 1862 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)), and read before the Linnean Society of London on 5 February 1863.
The enclosure has not been found. CD required some of the plants for his experiments on heterostyly (see n. 3, below), and others for his experiments on plant sensitivity and movement (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862] and n. 19).
The words ‘in the list’ were added as an afterthought: CD means that he had included on his list (see n. 2, above) a reference to Candolle and Candolle 1824–73, 10: 94, which Alphonse de Candolle had sent him in his letter of 13 June 1862. For CD’s interest in heterostyly in Oxalis and Alkanna, see the letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 17 June [1862] and n. 3.
See letter from Asa Gray, 4 and 13 October 1862. Hooker acknowledged his authorship of the review ([J. D. Hooker] 1862c) in his letter to CD of 7 November 1862.
In a letter of 14 September [1862], CD had thanked John Lindley, who was the principal editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette (DNB), for having reviewed Orchids so favourably.
The reference is probably to George Henry Turnbull of The Rookery, Down, who allowed CD to use his hot-house while preparing Orchids (see Orchids, p. 158 n.).
Between 7 October and 11 December 1862, CD wrote a draft section of Variation in which he discussed ‘Facts of variation of Plants’, appearing in the published book as chapters 9 and 10 (Variation 1: 305–72; see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
CD began to experiment on the pollination mechanism of Leschenaultia in April 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 March [1860] and n. 1), noting that L. formosa seemed to have an effective mechanism for preventing cross-pollination, the pollen being ‘shed in the early bud’ and ‘there shut up round the stigma within a cup or indusium’ (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Journal of Horticulture, [17 May 1861]). He had initially suspected that the two viscid surfaces on the outside of the indusium might in fact be stigmatic surfaces, thus requiring insect agency to effect pollination (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 April [1860]), but Hooker convinced him that the stigma was inside the indusium (Correspondence vol. 8, letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 April 1860]). However, CD carried out further investigations that encouraged him to maintain that pollination involved removal of the pollen from the indusium by insects, thus allowing cross-pollination (see Correspondence vol. 8, and Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Journal of Horticulture, [17 May 1861]). See also n. 10, below. CD’s experimental notes recording the observations given here, which are dated 29–31 October 1862, are in DAR 265. CD subsequently published an account of his observations on L. formosa, made during 1860 and 1862, in a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 9 September 1871 (Collected papers 2: 162–5).
CD told Hooker in his letter of 1 May [1862] that he had discovered the stigma to be exterior in Leschenaultia biloba, and Hooker subsequently confirmed the observation in that and another species (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [16 May 1862] and [17 May 1862]).
CD refers to the Goodeniaceae; for his work on Scaevola, see Correspondence vol. 8.
Haughton 1862.
Samuel Haughton, professor of geology at Dublin University, was one of the earliest critics of the theory of natural selection. In his presidential address to the Geological Society of Dublin on 9 February 1859 (Haughton 1860a), Haughton criticised CD and Alfred Russel Wallace’s paper announcing the theory (Darwin and Wallace 1858); he subsequently criticised Origin in a review that appeared in the Natural History Review ([Haughton] 1860b).
CD had borrowed a specimen of the orchid Masdevallia fenestrata (a synonym of Zootrophion atropurpureum) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862]).


BUCOP: British Union-catalogue of periodicals: a record of the periodicals of the world, from the seventeenth century to the present day, in British libraries. Edited by James D. Stewart et al. 4 vols. and supplement. London: Butterworths scientific publications. 1955–62.

Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de and Candolle, Alphonse de. 1824–73. Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, sive enumeratio contracta ordinum generum specierumque plantarum huc usque cognitarum, juxta methodi naturalis normas digesta. 19 vols. Paris: Treuttel & Würtz [and others].

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Planchon, Jules Emile. 1847–8. Sur la famille des Linnes. London Journal of Botany 6 (1847): 588–603; 7 (1848): 165–86, 473–501, 507–28.

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Requests reference to Jules Planchon’s monograph on Linum [Lond. J. Bot. 6 (1847): 588–603; 7 (1848): 165–86, 473–501, 507–28].

Sends list of seeds, including Oxalis, Boraginaceae especially Alkanna.

Asa Gray says JDH wrote reviews of Orchids in Gardeners’ Chronicle.

His experiments amuse him after dull day’s work on vegetables and fruit-trees.

Leschenaultia formosa has exterior stigma, thus eminently requiring insect aid, and thus ensuring crossing almost inevitably.

Asks whether Samuel Haughton at Dublin who made important medical discovery could be the same who reviewed Origin so hostilely [in Nat. Hist. Rev. 7 (1860): 23–32]; if so, he can sneer at and abuse CD to his heart’s content.

Asa Gray as rabid as ever [on Civil War].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 171
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3793,” accessed on 24 April 2024,

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