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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   27 February 1863

Royal Gardens Kew


My Dear Sir.

You ask about Primula longiflora.1 It is not near P. scotica. It is an Alpine plant with Corollas 14 in. long or more   The style considerly. exserted in most or all(?) our specms.— P. scotica I have gathered in Sutherlandsh.2 but never noticed dimorphism. From a few plants bro’t home & cultivated it wd. hardly be safe to settle it. I put in a few flowers wh. indicate varying length of style (I may be mistaken);—these are from Mr. Brown’s Herbarium.3

I shd. much like a 2 page Abstract of your Linum paper for next No. of N.H.R. but doubt if I have chance of seeing it in type in time.4

Very Sincerely yours | Dl. Oliver


CD had asked Oliver whether Primula longiflora was ‘closely allied’ to P. scotica after being informed that both species were non-dimorphic (see letter to Daniel Oliver, 20 [February 1863] and n. 4). Primula longiflora is a synonym of P. halleri.
The reference is to Sutherlandshire, Scotland.
Oliver refers to the herbarium of Robert Brown, keeper of the botanical department at the British Museum until his death in 1858. Brown left his herbarium to his assistant and successor John Joseph Bennett. The collection was kept in a room in the basement of the British Museum, and ‘working botanists’ were allowed access (Journal of Botany, British and Foreign n.s. 5 (1876): 192; Mabberley 1985, p. 387).
Oliver was one of the editors of the quarterly journal Natural History Review, and was preparing the April issue. ‘Two forms in species of Linum, read before the Linnean Society on 5 February 1863, was not available in print until 13 May 1863 (General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society p. vi). CD, however, arranged for a number of offprints of the paper to be distributed in mid-April; Oliver’s name appears on the presentation list (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix IV). The paper was reviewed in the July issue of the Natural History Review (Natural History Review 3: 476–8).


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

General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society: General index to the first twenty volumes of the Journal (Botany), and the botanical portion of the Proceedings, November 1838 to June 1886, of the Linnean Society. London: Linnean Society of London. 1888.

Mabberley, David J. 1985. Jupiter botanicus. Robert Brown of the British Museum. Brunswick, Germany: J. Cramer. London: British Museum (Natural History).

‘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.]


Answers CD’s query on Primula longiflora and P. scotica.

Would like abstract of CD’s paper ["Two forms of Linum", Collected papers 2: 93–105] for Natural History Review.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 108: 178
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4015,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

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