skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Digues La Touche   14 May [1863?]1

Down, Bromley, Kent. S.E.

May 14th

Dear Sir

I am extremely much obliged for your very kind note and excellent drawing.2 The case does interest me much.3 Analogous cases have been recorded; but they are very rare. Your accurate account shows me that here, as (unfortunately) in almost every other case there is a doubt whether these parti-coloured fruits are really due to a bud formed at the point of junction of graft and stock, or whether it be not a variation analogous to a striped petal. In the case of peaches half nectarines, there is no reason to believe that the result is due to grafting; but in some other cases the evidence does point in this direction.4

With very sincere thanks for your kindness. Pray believe me, Dear Sir, In Haste | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

In one account of an apple half and half it is asserted that such fruit never yielded seed though other fruit on tree did yield seed.5 I presume that it would be impossible for you to enquire from owner of Tree in Canada whether this was case.


The year is conjectured from the references to bud-variation and anomalous modes of reproduction and variation (see nn. 3–5, below). CD began writing a draft of a chapter on this topic for Variation on 21 December 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II, and Variation 1: 373–411), and solicited examples from several correspondents. See, for example, letter to Asa Gray, 2 January [1863], letter to Thomas Rivers, 7 January [1863], and letter to John Scott, 21 January [1863].
Neither the letter from La Touche nor the drawing has been found.
CD cited this case in Variation 1: 392–3: The Rev. J. D. La Touche sent me a coloured drawing of an apple which he brought from Canada, of which half, surrounding and including the whole of the calyx and the insertion of the footstalk, is green, the other half being brown and of the nature of the pomme gris apple, with the line of separation between the two halves exactly defined. The tree was a grafted one, and Mr. La Touche thinks that the branch which bore this curious apple sprung from the point of junction of the graft and stock: had this fact been ascertained, the case would probably have come into the small class of graft-hybrids presently to be given. But the branch may have sprung from the stock, which no doubt was a seedling.
CD cited cases of trees producing fruit that were half peach and half nectarine in Variation 1: 340–1.
CD refers to a notice that appeared in the Gardener’s Magazine 13 (1837): 230, concerning apples grown at the Château de Brequigny, France, that were red and acidic on one side, and yellow and sweet on the other. CD’s annotated copy of the journal is in the Darwin Library–CUL. The case is described in Variation 1: 392.


Thanks for drawing and note about peach–nectarine.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Digues La Touche
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 34
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4166,” accessed on 18 September 2019,

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