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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   31 [May 1864]



My dear Hooker

Could you by an extraordinary good chance give me now a plant of Cardiospermum halicacabum (or any other species if such has tendrils)1   Also, at any time, Commelina Bengalensis (for little imperfect flowers)2 or any American species for extraordinary nectaries3

Ever yours | C. Darwin

By silence I shall understand you cannot.

N.B. you never looked how Nepenthes climbs   If it climbs by tips of leaves, a growing plant wd be a treasure4

Oliver mentioned some Papayal plant with axial Tendrils;5 I just mention for bare possibility of your having spare plant.


CD’s notes on Cardiospermum halicacabum are in DAR 157.2: 68. For the results of his observations, see ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 87–9, 92.
CD referred to Commelina in Forms of flowers, p. 339, as one of several genera with cleistogamic (unopening) flowers in which the young ovaries were buried in the soil. See also ibid., p. 313. A specimen of C. bengalensis was sent to CD in 1878 (see letter from W. T. Thiselton Dyer, 30 December 1878 (Calendar no. 11811)). For CD’s interest in cleistogamic flowers, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864] and n. 10.
CD probably refers to the Commelina species in which some anthers have lobes containing nectar (Willis 1973). For CD’s recently expressed interest in orchid nectaries, see letter to Daniel Oliver, 17 February [1864] and n. 10.
Daniel Oliver had referred to axial tendrils in Modecca, a genus that Lindley 1853, p. 322, included in the Papayaceae, as did CD in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 92; the genus was often classified as a member of the Passifloraceae (see letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864] and nn. 3, 4, and 8).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

‘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.

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

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

Willis, John Christopher. 1973. A dictionary of the flowering plants and ferns. 8th edition. Revised by H. K. Airy Shaw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Request for climbing plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 235
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4516,” accessed on 22 October 2021,

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