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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   31 March [1864]1

Down Bromley. | Kent.

Mar 31

Dear Oliver

I am infinitely obliged for the reference.2 I certainly shd be very glad to hear what the paper is about & I beg you to be brief & not waste your time as I must ultimately read the paper

I am very glad to hear about Modecca, but I had given up the ghost from your former letter.3 Will you thank Hooker for his splendid long letter4 & ask him to read the enclosed from Scott about whom I am very sorry.5 I have just had another long letter from him with some most remarkable observations on the fertility of Orchids with their own & other pollen.6 Incidentally he was led to estimate with care the number of seeds in one capsule of Acropera & the no—amounts 371250 in one capsule—& the plant produces many capsules—7 Is not this stupendous? I heartily wish something cd be done for this man

Dear Oliver | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the two letters from John Scott, 10 March 1864 and 28 March 1864 (see nn. 5 and 6, below).
CD refers to the reference to Léon 1858, cited by Oliver in the enclosure to the letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864]. CD thanked Oliver, along with Asa Gray and Joseph Dalton Hooker, in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 14, for providing him with ‘much information and many valuable references’.
Before offering evidence that the tendrils of some Modecca species were derived from flower peduncles, Oliver had suggested that tendrils of the Passifloraceae (which included Modecca) and related groups, were possibly modified leaves, but were more likely modified branches (see memorandum and letter from Daniel Oliver, [28 January – 8 February 1864] and 12 March 1864, and letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864] and n. 3).
CD probably enclosed the postscript to John Scott’s letter of 28 March 1864, which was written on a separate piece of paper from the letter. Scott first disclosed that he had left his position as head of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, in his letter of 10 March 1864.
For Scott’s discussion of Acropera pollination, see the letter from John Scott, 28 March 1864 and nn. 8–12.


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

Léon, Isidore. 1858. Recherches nouvelles sur la cause du mouvement spiral des tiges volubiles. Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France 5: 351–6, 610–14, 624–9, 679–85.


Asks DO to give enclosed [letter?] from John Scott to Hooker.

JS’s work on orchid self-sterility; Acropera has 371250 seeds in one capsule.

Wishes something could be done for Scott.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 44 (EH 88206027)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4068,” accessed on 23 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12