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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   [23 January 1863?]1

5. Westbourne Grove Terrace, W.

Friday evening

My dear Mr Darwin

It has just occurred to me, that I have seen insects on Melastomas.2 A small shrubby species is abundant in all the cleared waste grounds in the Malay Islands, & I now distinctly recollect having frequently taken small Cetoniadæ of the genus Valgus from the flowers. The large wood boring bees (Xylocopa) also visit the flowers, & the whole plants often swarm with small black ants.

I remember also distinctly having seen the flowers much eaten by insects.

The Plant however is so common close to Singapore that I will write to one of my friends there to observe & make a list of all the insects, that visit it.3

Hoping these few facts may be useful | I remain | My dear Mr Darwin | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace

Charles Darwin Esq


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the following letter (see n. 2, below). In 1863, 23 January was a Friday.
CD had recently sent inquiries to a number of correspondents regarding dimorphism and insect pollination of Melastomataceae (see, for example, letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863], and letter to H. W. Bates, 12 January [1863]). He may have asked Wallace for information on this subject in a letter written between 9 and 13 January 1863 that has not been found. See also letter from A. R. Wallace, 14 January [1863], the following letter and n. 1, and letter to H. W. Bates, 26 January [1863].


Now recalls a Melastoma visited by some small Cetoniadae and bees (Xylocopa) in Malay Archipelago.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Westbourne Grove Terrace, 5
Source of text
DAR 205.8: 70 (Letters)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4390,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

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