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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. E. Darwin   [c. 10 May 1866]1

My dear Papa

I have just had the eventful interview with Mogg2   He didn’t scold me at all about fusca & lutea3 & we talked orchids very amicably—but the little man wants to see you— I told him that he might come & pay a morning call but that most likely you wdn’t see him & he said he shd be delighted to come on those terms so you are in for it4   I was quite civil I beg to state. Well he was exceeding civil & I happened to have an orchid in my hand for him to name & oddly enough it was the other orchis that fertilises itself—i.e. orchis secundiflora = Neotinea intacta in Seeman’s Journal of Bot. for 1865—5 He is going to send you some6   They shall be sent to Dow[n]   He seems to have been making most careful observations about the different ophrys. he showed me a great many of his drawings of the links between them all.7 It is rather horrible to have another self fertiliser, isn’t it? He will send you some of secundiflora & I am to have some to bring too.

I hope I shall know my plans by tomorrow & then I shall know my plans.

yours dear Papa | H.E.D.


The year is established by the reference to John Traherne Moggridge’s visit to Down (see n. 4, below); the date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. T. Moggridge, 10 May [1866].
Henrietta had met Moggridge in Cannes (see letter from J. T. Moggridge, 21 May [1866]).
On Ophrys lutea and O. fusca, see the letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866] and n. 7.
Moggridge visited CD at Down from 23 to 25 June 1866 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). For CD’s apprehension regarding visitors, see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV and n. 9.
Henrietta refers to the article ‘Neotinea intacta, Rchb. fil., the new Irish orchid’, by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, which appeared in the January 1865 issue of Journal of Botany, edited by Berthold Carl Seemann. Reichenbach observed that pollination occurs within the bud in N. intacta (syn. Orchis secundiflorum), and reported similar observations of other orchids, concluding: ‘With such facts before us, it is hard to believe that any Orchid is incapable of fertilizing itself, and requires some as yet undiscovered insect to act as sexual agent’ (Reichenbach 1865, p. 2). CD had claimed that self-pollination was rare in orchids (Orchids, pp. 358–60).
See letter from J. T. Moggridge, 10 May [1866]. In Orchids 2d ed., p. 27, CD described pollination in specimens of Neotinea intacta received from Moggridge: although ‘remarkable for producing seeds without the aid of insects’, the flower was so structured that it could be pollinated by insects if they visited, although not as well as other orchids. CD remarked that N. intacta and O. apifera were among the few orchids that regularly self-pollinated without the aid of insects (ibid., p. 291). On CD’s interest in the self-pollinating bee orchid (O. apifera), see the letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866] and n. 3.
See letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866] and n. 6.


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

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Reichenbach, Heinrich Gustav. 1865. Neotinea intacta, Rchb. fil., the new Irish orchid. Journal of Botany 3: 1–5.


Mogg [John Traherne Moggridge] wants to visit CD.

Self-fertilising orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 67
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5075,” accessed on 18 September 2020,

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