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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [20 February 1864]1



Dear Darwin

I send the only two Corydalis we have of the things you mentioned   I doubt the Tourrettia being in cultivation now, I never saw it.2 The Sikkim Corydalis is a large growing much branched rambling species, which I should think should be raised in a green house & then planted out amongst shrubs in a good soil. I found it always always scrambling over shrubs on the verge of the forest.3

How I wish you would get well.

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker.

Crugers seems to be a splendid paper—4 how I wish he were a better Botanic Gardener— he has been instructed to propagate Cinchona in Trinidad, & made a regular mess of it.—5 A German scientific man is the most impractical & impracticable pig in Christendom.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864], in which CD acknowledges his receipt of the Corydalis seeds (see n. 2, below). In 1864, 20 February fell on a Saturday.
CD’s request to Hooker for Corydalis or Tourrettia has not been found; however, CD did refer in the letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864] to ‘scraps’ he had sent Hooker. Hooker refers to seeds of two of the Fumariaceae, one of which he called the Sikkim Corydalis (see n. 3, below). The other Corydalis species Hooker sent has not been determined; however, CD described C. claviculata in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 70–2 (see experimental notes in DAR 157.2: 26–8). CD evidently never received a specimen of Tourrettia, but he described his observations of other species in the family Bignoniaceae in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 49–61.
Hooker later told CD that the plant that he called Sikkim Corydalis and that CD called Himalayan Corydalis was Dicentra thalictrifolia, another genus in the family Fumariaceae (see memorandum to J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1864?] and letter from J. D. Hooker, [4–]6 August 1864). CD’s notes on the species are in DAR 157.2: 93–4; he discussed the plant in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 72–3, 92, 100, and 111. Hooker also refers to observations during his travels in the Himalayas (see J. D. Hooker 1854, 1: 163–4, and J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1855, pp. 273–4).
Hooker refers to Hermann Crüger’s paper (Crüger 1864), which CD sent to Daniel Oliver with his letter of 17 February [1864].
Crüger was director of the Trinidad Botanic Garden. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, with assistance from the Hookers, supplied a number of colonial botanic gardens in India, the West Indies, and elsewhere with Cinchona seeds for propagation (see Markham 1880, pp. 311, 410; Brockway 1979, pp. 103–39; and McCracken 1997, p. 134). A letter of 23 August 1863 from Crüger to William Jackson Hooker suggests that Crüger’s efforts to cultivate Cinchona may have been hampered by political and economic conditions in Trinidad (see North American and South American letters, 1859–65, vol. 65, no. 198–9, Library and Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). The bark of Cinchona is a source of quinine, used in the treatment of malaria (EB).


Brockway, Lucile H. 1979. Science and colonial expansion. The role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens. New York: Academic Press.

‘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.

Crüger, Hermann. 1864. A few notes on the fecundation of orchids and their morphology. [Read 3 March 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 127–35.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

McCracken, Donal P. 1997. Gardens of empire: botanical institutions of the Victorian British empire. London and Washington: Leicester University Press.

Markham, Clements Robert. 1880. Peruvian bark. A popular account of the introduction of chinchona cultivation into British India. London: John Murray.


Sends a Corydalis.

Hermann Crüger’s paper [see 4394] splendid, but he has made a mess of propagating Cinchona in Trinidad.

JDH’s opinion of Germans.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 186–7
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4413,” accessed on 3 December 2020,

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