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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   2 June [1864]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 2

Dear Hooker

You once offered me a Combretum.2 I, having C. purpureum, out of modesty like an ass refused; Can you now send me a plant? I have a sudden access of furor about climbers   Do you grow Adlumia cirrhosa? Your seed did not germinate with me.3 Cd you have a seedling dug up & potted? I want it fearfully for it is a leaf climber & therefore sacred4

yours affectly | C. Darwin

I have some hopes of getting Adlumia, for I used to grow the plant & seedlings have often come up & we are now potting all minute reddish-coloured weeds.

I have just got a plant with sensitive axis,—quite new case, & tell Oliver, I now do not care at all how many tendrils he makes axial, which at one time was a cruel torture to me.—5


The year is established by the reference to Combretum argenteum (see n. 2, below).
CD had requested a specimen of Combretum argenteum in the letter from Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1864]. No letter from Hooker offering CD the plant has been found. C. argenteum and C. purpureum are described in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 18 and 24.
CD was not able to obtain specimens of Adlumia cirrhosa (a synonym of Adlumia fungosa) from Hooker on this occasion (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 June 1864); however, in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 44, he states that he ‘raised some plants late in the summer’. CD’s notes on A. cirrhosa, dated 15 August 1864, are in DAR 157.1: 105. Seeds of A. cirrhosa may have been among the seeds of climbing Fumariaceae that CD requested from Hooker in February (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864]). CD had obtained seeds of A. cirrhosa from Kew in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 [November 1857]); at that time, CD was interested in the cross-pollination of A. cirrhosa and species of Fumaria by insects (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 29 November [1857]).
In ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 108–11, CD argued that leaf-climbers represented an intermediate stage of development between twiners and tendril-bearers. The transition from leaf-climbers to tendril-bearers was evident in four genera, including Adlumia, of the family Fumariaceae. In Adlumia cirrhosa, the terminal leaflets were greatly reduced in size (ibid., p. 111).
CD had suggested to Daniel Oliver that many tendrils were modified leaves rather than modified stems, and that some, such as Passiflora, were modified flower peduncles (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and nn. 19–22, and letter to Daniel Oliver, 11 March [1864] and n. 9). Oliver replied that while some tendrils might be modified leaves, vine tendrils were stem-structures (axial), as were Passiflora tendrils (see letters from Daniel Oliver, [28 January – 8 February 1864] and 12 March 1864). For CD’s disappointment with Oliver’s answers, see letter to J. D. Hooker, [8 February 1864] and nn. 10–11. See also, however, letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864] and n. 3, and letter to Daniel Oliver, 31 March [1864] and n. 3.


‘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.

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


Requests climbing plants.

Asks that Oliver be told that he now does not care "how many tendrils he makes axial".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 237
Physical description
L(S)(A) 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4517,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

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