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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [28 September 1864]1

Royal Gardens Kew


My dear Darwin

I send herewith enclosed 2 pitchers intertwined of Nepenthes lævis, I find that all the species climb in the same manner.2

Thanks for your capital long letter of 23d.—3 I am so glad that you have begun the “opus magnum”4

I have sent the recommendation of Gærtner to Stainton5 & backed it.

What a good thought, of Wallace for Royal Medal6   I have been in despair for a good man, & here is one to our hands.

Harvey is here & I have asked him about the desert climbing plants,7 they are species of Asclepiadeæ (Ceropegia) & of Convolvulaceae, of which all the native specimens he has are stemless, flowering at the ground, but which when grown from seed in Dublin Gardens, send up climbing stems. I have seen specimens, & do not doubt its being a very common occurrence.

CD annotations

2.1 Thanks … hands 4.2] crossed pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 September [1864]; the first Wednesday following was 28 September.
CD had asked Hooker to send him the names of climbing species of Nepenthes (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 13 September [1864] and 23 September [1864], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 September 1864). For CD and Hooker’s earlier discussions about Nepenthes, see letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 [March] 1864 and n. 22, and [23 August 1864], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [4–]6 August 1864 and n. 8. CD noted that climbing in this genus was effected by the stalk or midrib between the leaf and the pitcher twisting around any support (‘Climbing plants’, pp. 46–7). His notes detailing observations on N. laevis and N. distillatoria are in DAR 157.1: 111–12. Nepenthes laevis is a synonym of N. gracilis
Hooker refers to Variation.
See enclosure to letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 September [1864]. Hooker refers to Gärtner 1849 and Henry Tibbats Stainton. Stainton was secretary of the Ray Society (Ray Society, Report of Council, 1864 (Natural History Museum Archives)).
The reference is to Alfred Russel Wallace. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 September [1864]. Hooker was a member of the Council of the Royal Society. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 26[–8] October 1864, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 November [1864]. Wallace received the Royal Society’s Royal Medal in 1868 (Royal Society, Council minutes).
CD had asked William Henry Harvey to supply the names of South African species that were not spiral twiners in their native country, but became so in Dublin (see letters to J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1864?] and n. 14, and 13 September [1864]). The species of Asclepiadaceae and Convolvulaceae exhibiting this change of habit are discussed in the letters from W. H. Harvey, 10 November 1864, and 11 November 1864. Harvey, a specialist in South African plants, was professor of botany at Trinity College, Dublin (R. Desmond 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.

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

Gärtner, Karl Friedrich von. 1849. Versuche und Beobachtungen über die Bastarderzeugung im Pflanzenreich. Mit Hinweisung auf die ähnlichen Erscheinungen im Thierreiche, ganz umgearbeitete und sehr vermehrte Ausgabe der von der Königlich holländischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart.


Sends Nepenthes laevis.

Wallace for the Royal Medal is a good thought.

W. H. Harvey is at Kew and JDH has asked him about desert climbers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 157.2: 110
Physical description
ALS 2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4623,” accessed on 5 December 2022,

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