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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   14 April [1864]


Ap. 14

My Dear Father,

I have already got some Pulmonaria & send it you measured.1

It seems variable both in length of style & length of filament but constant in each plant.2 I have unfortunately not got enough to compare all kinds properly.

They seem divided into 4 classes.

Short styled with short filaments

Do — Long filaments

Longstyled with long style

Do with shorter style

the only plant I had of short styled with short filaments has withered else I would have drawn them all ie. position of stamens & pistil. (The position of stamens in this seems the same as in long styled)3

The pollen in the 2 short styled kinds is exactly the the same, also in the 2 Longstyled, & you see the short styled pollen is decidedly the largest4   I have made two sets of drawings, so that I am sure there is no mistake.

I have drawn the stigmas of short & long, & the short have decidedly the longest papillæ.5 I will run over & get some more some evening6  

I will see about the grass you mention.7

I shall come on Friday the 21st. & stay till Monday or Tuesday.8

Your affect son | W. E D.

I can do as much pollen work as ever you like

[Enclosure 1]


[Enclosure 2]


CD annotations

2.1 but … plant 2.2] double scored pencil
Cover: ‘Apri 14th | Variability good’ pencil
Verso of cover: ‘Pulmonaria | (William) | April 14 | Shape of Stigma’9 pencil; ‘2’10 red crayon, circled red crayon
Enclosure 1: ‘2’ red crayon, circled red crayon
Verso of enclosure 1: ‘Pollen-grains’ pencil
Enclosure 2: ‘2’ red crayon, circled red crayon; ‘1864 | April 13thpencil
Verso of enclosure 2: ‘Shape of stigma and size of pollen-grains’ pencil


No recent request from CD to William for plants, drawings, or measurements of Pulmonaria has been found; however, in 1863, CD and William had exchanged letters following William’s discovery of dimorphism in specimens of Pulmonaria angustifolia that he collected on the Isle of Wight (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters from W. E. Darwin, 4 May [1863] and 8 May [1863] and n. 4, and Forms of flowers, pp. 105, 107). CD’s letter of [25 July 1863] (Correspondence vol. 11) included a request for the plants. CD was keen to investigate the heterostyly and fertility of another dimorphic species after publishing articles on Primula and Linum (‘Dimorphic condition in Primula and ‘Two forms in species of Linum). CD discussed Pulmonaria angustifolia in ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, p. 431 and in Forms of flowers, pp. 104–10, 239, 252 and 287. CD’s experimental notes on Pulmonaria are in DAR 110: A40–94 and B15–17.
CD included this information in his abstract of this letter in DAR 110: A53, and noted ‘Variability good’ on the cover of the letter (CD annotations). See also Correspondence vol. 11, letters from W. E. Darwin, 4 May [1863] and 8 May [1863]. CD discussed Pulmonaria angustifolia’s variability of style and filament length in Forms of flowers, pp 105–6.
William’s statement suggests that he may have included a drawing of the three forms of the flowers illustrating the relationship of the stamens to the pistils; this drawing has not been found, but may have been similar to drawings in the enclosure to his letter of 18 April 1864. In 1863, William also sketched the forms of Pulmonaria angustifolia flowers (which he labelled ‘Anchusa officinalis’) in his botanical sketchbook (see DAR 186: 43, p. 53). Drawings of the long-styled and the short-styled forms are in Forms of flowers, p. 105.
See enclosures 1 and 2. The sketches are reproduced at 40 per cent of their original size. CD believed that differences in pollen sizes and in the relative sizes of some other structures were an indication of heterostyly (see letter from John Scott, 7 January [1864] and n. 9, and Forms of flowers, p. 244). In a note dated 6 May 1864 in DAR 110: A51, CD wrote: ‘Short-styled anthers have much [inter]larger pollen grains according to William than long-styled— I can see this plainly’. CD discussed comparative pollen sizes of Pulmonaria angustifolia in Forms of flowers, p. 106. He also concluded that the pollen of the shorter-styled form was larger in most heterostyled plants (see Forms of flowers, pp. 248–52).
See enclosure 2. CD requested comparisons of the papillae on the stigma in the letter from himself and Emma Darwin, [4 May 1863] (Correspondence vol. 11). CD included William’s observation of the longest papillae on the short-styled flowers in his abstract of the letter (see DAR 110: A53). However, a note in DAR 110: A43 on Pulmonaria angustifolia, dated 26 April 1864, included the observation: ‘no great diffnce. in roughness of 2 stigmas’. In Forms of flowers, pp. 253–4, CD wrote that in heterostyled plants there was no known exception to the rule ‘that the papillæ on the stigma of the long-styled form [were] longer and often thicker than those on that of the short-styled’.
William refers to collecting more Pulmonaria angustifolia on the Isle of Wight (see n. 1, above).
The letter to William mentioning what was probably Leersia oryzoides has not been found; however, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864] and nn. 9 and 10.
Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) reported that William arrived at Down House on 21 April, which was a Thursday; he left on the following Monday.
See letter to W. E. Darwin, [after 14 April – 5 May 1864], and memorandum from W. E. Darwin, 6 May 1864.
CD’s annotations of circled numbers on some of William’s letters, covers, or enclosures regarding Pulmonaria angustifolia correlate with similar numbers on CD’s abstracts of the letters in DAR 110: A53.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Observations on [length of style and length of filament and stigmas of] Pulmonaria.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 110: A68–74
Physical description
ALS 5pp †, diags 5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4462,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

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