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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [5 August 1864]1


Friday Evening

My dear old Friend.—

Your visit did me no harm;2 on the contrary it did me good & I enjoyed it beyond measure.— It has done me good mentally & has interested me in my work.— In fact you have cockered me up to that degree that I want to observe all I can.— The enclosed list is all the genera & orders with tendrils, which I have examined.—3 Now could you get H. Gower4 or any other foreman to consider whether he has any other genus with tendrils & could spare me a plant.—

Have you Lycopodium rupestre? its roots are said to climb—5

“Beer on orchids” has come;—6 very many thanks— It is so hot I must write no more.—

Yours affect | C. Darwin

I now care only for tendril bearers

P.S. | Most true thanks about Scott. Your plan will evidently be much the best.—7

If your foreman cannot tell whether he has any genera with tendrils which I have not seen; I beg you in earnest not to take trouble yourself on subject.—


The date is established by the reference to ‘Beer on orchids’ (see n. 6, below).
Hooker had visited Down on 24 July 1864. In a letter to Asa Gray of 29 July 1864, Hooker wrote: ‘I spent last Sunday with Darwin. He is much better but very thin. He saw me for 10 each time almost a dozen times during the day— he is very busy with his climbing plants’ (Gray Herbarium of Harvard University).
The enclosure has not been found.
William Hugh Gower, a foreman at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, had assisted Hooker in selecting and supplying plants for CD’s hothouse (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix VI).
In ‘Climbing plants’, p. 107, CD noted that, according to Hugo von Mohl, the rootlets of certain species of Lycopodium act as tendrils. See Mohl 1827, p. 27. An annotated copy of Mohl 1827 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 590–4).
Beer 1863. See memorandum to J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1864?] and n. 12. Hooker probably sent the book on 3 August 1864 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4–]6 August 1864 and n. 5).
For Hooker’s assistance in finding employment for John Scott, see the letter from John Scott, 29 July [1864] and n. 7.


Beer, Joseph Georg. 1863. Beiträge zur Morphologie und Biologie der Familie der Orchideen. Vienna: Carl Gerold’s Sohn.

‘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. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Mohl, Hugo von. 1827. Ueber den Bau und das Winden der Ranken und Schlingpflanzen. Tübingen: Heinrich Laupp.


JDH’s visit stimulates CD’s interest in his own work. Encloses list of queries on climbing plants. [Missing]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 242a, 242c
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4576,” accessed on 8 April 2020,

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