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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Marshall   12 June 1864


June 12th 1864.

Dear Sir

Having seen your Paper on the 2 Forms of “Linum”1 & further that you are about to read a another Paper on 3 Forms of “Lythrum salicaria”,2 I write to ask you (à propos of the subject) whether you have noticed the 2 very Distinct forms of “Plantago lanceolata”, one abundantly polliniferous, the other apparently producing abortive anthers.3

The latter are far fewer than the former, but in passing through a field of “Lambtongue” the other day I noticed the two forms for the first time. I presume they are well known to you—

Anacharis alsinastrum.

I have prepared a full & careful reply to your Inquiries relating to this plant made of me 2 or 3 years ago4 & will send them, if not too late.

Yours truly | Wm. Marshall

C. Darwin Esq

Down Bromley | Kent

CD annotations

2.1 The latter … time. 2.2] double scored pencil and red crayon
3.1 I have … late. 3.2] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Plantago lanceota’ pencil


‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria was read at the Linnean Society on 16 June 1864.
CD cited Marshall on the existence of female and hermaphrodite forms of Plantago lanceolata in the section on gyno-dioecious plants in Forms of flowers, p. 306 n. CD’s notes on the plant, dated 28 April – 14 June 1863, are in DAR 109: A27–9; see also DAR 109: A50 and A64, and DAR 111: 51.
CD had enquired about the water-weed Anacharis alsinastrum in his letter to Marshall of 9 April [1860] (Correspondence vol. 8). Marshall had published two papers on the plant (Marshall 1852 and 1857). After its introduction to England from North America in the 1840s, A. alsinastrum, now named Elodea canadensis, had spread rapidly in English streams, jeopardising drainage and navigation (Marshall 1852). CD was interested in the geographical distribution of the plant, the means by which it was dispersed, the animals that fed on it, and the vegetation that was killed as it spread (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. S. Henslow, 2 April [1860] and n. 2, and letter from J. S. Henslow, 5 May 1860, and CD’s note in DAR 205.2: 188). Marshall’s reply has not been found.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Marshall, William. 1852. Excessive and noxious increase of Udora canadensis (Anacharis alsinastrum). Phytologist 4 (1851–2): 705–15.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

‘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.]


Informs CD of two distinct forms of Plantago lanceolata.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Marshall
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 109: A88–9
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4530,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

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