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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   [26 March 1863]1

Royal Gardens Kew


My dear Sir

I shall be glad of a sight of the monstrous ovaries of Primula.2 The true character of the free placenta is not thoroughly understood—indeed Caspary3 regards the ‘pistil’ as not homologous with the pistil (carpels) of other plants but as ‘procarpels’ the true carpels being reduced to the funiculus & integuments of the ovules. Rather an absurd view.— But what we want is something better to connect this free placenta of Primula with the marginal placentaln. of other angiospermous ovaries.

I shall call at the New Conservatory this P.M. for flowers of Edwardsia 4

Ever Sincerely yours | D Oliver


The letter is dated by the relationship between this letter, the letter to Daniel Oliver, 24–5 March [1863], and the letter from Daniel Oliver, [27 March 1863]; the intervening Thursday was 26 March 1863.
Caspary 1861. Oliver summarised the findings of this paper in the October 1863 number of the Natural History Review, noting its conclusion that ‘in Primula, the leaves, five in number, constituting the pistil, are pro-carpels, the true carpels being each reduced to funiculus and integuments of as many ovules’ (Natural History Review 3 (1863): 583).


Caspary, Robert. 1861. Vergrünungen der Blüthe des weissen Klees. Schriften der Königlichen Physikalisch-ökonomische Gesellschaft zu Königsberg 2 (1863): 51–72.


Discusses the female parts of the Primula flower; the true character of the free placenta is not completely understood.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 173: 18
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3894,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11