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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [23 June 1866]1



My dear Father,

I will go over to Isle of W on Tuesday & mark the females. I suppose it would not do to cut slips at present.2

Both the males have entirely abortive ovules, and both the females incomplete stamens:3

Do you want a slip of all 4 kinds? I cannot understand how they got called polygamous.4

I am sorry to hear Mama is laid up5

Your affect son | W. E. Darwin

CD annotations

2.1 Both … ovules] scored red crayon
3.1 of all 4 kinds?] scored red crayon


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. E. Darwin, 22 June [1866], and by the reference to Emma Darwin’s poor health (see n. 5, below). In 1866, 23 June was a Saturday.
In his letter of 22 June [1866], CD had indicated that William should mark the four flower forms of Rhamnus cathartica on the Isle of Wight, in order to take cuttings in autumn.
Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records a ‘feverish attack’ on 21 June 1866.


Ovules of males of two forms [of Rhamnus catharticus?] are abortive and both females have incomplete stamens.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 109: A75
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4962,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14