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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   3 August [1863]


Aug 3d

My dear Hooker

The plants arrived on Saturday.1 The whole lot (far more than 3 or 4) are really priceless treasures; I hardly know which I am most curious about. It is very odd that gardeners shd. not have noticed the movement of the shoots of simple climbing plants.2 The Apocyneæ, which you gave me go on swinging great shoots, 18 inches long, round & round day & night. What a curious rhythmical contraction or expansion there must be; for there is no twisting of the shoot.3 The common garden pea, both shoot & tendrils are in constant movement.4 What a mistake the old one was that animals moved & plants did not.— I long to look at pollen of Lagerstrœmia;5 I have just finished crossing, marking &c &c &c. 134 flowers of Lythrum; so I will work out that case well, with the 96 crosses made last year.6

How desperately hard worked you must now be. Do not come here till you can do it with smooth conscience & by all means bring Willy.7 It is, however, probable we may be away for about a fortnight towards end of this month.—8 I shall so like to see you.—

I am very sorry to hear about kind-heart Dr. Boott.9

I fear I am an incubus to you; for I enclose 3 questions, which at any time I shd. be grateful for answer—

Ever yours affecty.— | C. Darwin

Reference to Decaisne on Pear-trees: is in it that he mentions Larkspurs?10

I have “Henslow’s Botany”11;—“Asa Gray’s Lessons.”12; “Aug. St. Hilaires Leçons de Botanique”:13 can you name any good book with miscellaneous information for me to get. Did not Henfrey translate some German Book on Bot. Phys.—14

I have had lots of letters on Catasetum tridentatum seeding:15 I have good reason to suspect there are two species under this name. Hence it wd. be important for me to examine same plant that I had before. Can you lend me a plant? or is this too unreasonable? I wish to try to fertilise it.—


See letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863]; Hooker wrote that he was sending ‘3 or 4 tendrilliferous plants’.
CD had begun making observations on the movements of climbing plants (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 25 [June 1863], 1 July [1863], and 22 July [1863], and letter to Asa Gray, 26 June [1863]). A long paper by CD, ‘Climbing plants’, was read before the Linnean Society on 2 February 1865 and published in a double number of the society’s journal in June. Longmans and Williams & Norgate also ran off-prints of the paper from the type set and issued Climbing plants as a commercial venture (see Freeman 1977, pp. 116–18).
CD included measurements of stem movement for Dipladenia crassinoda and D. urophylla (Apocynaceae) in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 16.
CD discussed the movements of Pisum sativum in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 65–7. His experimental notes on this species are in DAR 157.2: 15–20.
Hooker had sent CD a dimorphic specimen of a flowering Lagerstroemia (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863]). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 and 22 May [1863], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 May 1863].
CD became interested in Lythrum after reading that L. salicaria and L. thymifolia were trimorphic (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 18 [December 1861]). He began experiments on L. salicaria at the end of July 1862 and, after making the 94, not 96, crosses referred to, concluded that he would have to make a further 126 crosses before he could publish his results (see Correspondence vol. 10, letters to Asa Gray, 9 August [1862] and [3–]4 September [1862], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862] and n. 12). See also this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [July 1863] and n. 11. CD’s experimental notes on Lythrum, dated 1862–4, are in DAR 27: B1–57, and DAR 109: B36–51. CD’s paper on Lythrum, ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’ was read before the Linnean Society on 16 June 1864.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863]; the reference is to Hooker’s eldest son, William Henslow Hooker. There is no evidence that Hooker visited Down later in 1863.
CD was expecting to visit a hydropathic establishment in Malvern, Worcestershire, if his ill health continued (see letter to W. D. Fox, 23 May [1863], and letter to Charles Lyell, 14 August [1863]). According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD was at Malvern Wells between 3 September and 12 or 13 October 1863. See also ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863]. Francis Boott died of a lung disease on 25 December 1863 (DNB).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863] and n. 9. In Decaisne 1863, pp. 10–11, Decaisne claimed that the flowers of Delphinium (larkspur) self-pollinate in the bud and do not normally intercross.
The reference is to John Stevens Henslow’s Descriptive and physiological botany (J. S. Henslow 1837). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 369–71).
CD refers to Asa Gray’s First lessons in botany and vegetable physiology (A. Gray 1857). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 347).
Auguste de Saint-Hilaire’s Leçons de botanique (Saint-Hilaire 1841). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 733–8).
The reference appears to be to Principles of the anatomy and physiology of the vegetable cell (Henfrey trans. 1852), Arthur Henfrey’s translation of Hugo von Mohl’s Grundzüge der Anatomie und Physiologie der vegetabilischen Zelle (Mohl 1851). There is an annotated copy of Henfrey trans. 1852 in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 589–90).
See letter from H. F. Hance, 10 May 1863 and nn. 5 and 7, and letter from Edward Bradford, 31 July 1863. For CD’s discussion of the information that Catasetum tridentatum, though a male plant, occasionally produced seed-capsules, see ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 154 (Collected papers 2: 151), and Orchids, 2d ed., p. 197 n.


Tendril plants received.

Has just completed large crossing experiment with Lythrum.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 201
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4261,” accessed on 25 June 2019,

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