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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. T. Moggridge   21 May [1866]1

7a. Eastbourne Terr. | Hyde Park. | W.

May 21

Dear Mr. Darwin

I send a small box containing two plants of what I take to be Orchis coriophora, gathered at Cannes; also a spike of Serapias cordigera Linn. which happens to be tolerably well preserved.— —2

The marshy field where the self-fertilising Oph: scolopax used to grow has now begun to feel the effects of drainage & the Ophryses generally are dying out there— — —3 Perhaps these plants may have been hybrids between Oph. scolopax & apifera, & thus, having a more precarious tenure of life, are the first to disappear completely—4

Talking of hybrids, I have had a most valuable lesson lately upon hybrid Cistuses from Dr Bornet at Antibes— — He has been making observations for several years in M. Thuret’s garden,5 &, though he says that it must be yet some years before he can publish his observations, I think that some important points are already cleared up—

Firstly the old dictum about the hybrid having the foliage of the mother & the habit of the father plant, does not hold in the least.— Secondly, it appears that some characters are more sure of reappearing than others; as for ex: the hairyness of one parent seems to be always transmitted; & the scorpioid inflorescence of Cistus monspeliensis is always found in its descendants— — —6

Dr. Bornet seems to be a most conscientious observer; his energy is not even daunted by the very early hours at which the flowers open, & he is to be found regularly at work between 5. & 6. a.m. upon the fertilisation!—

I had great pleasure in making Miss Darwin’s acquaintance at Cannes,7 & I much wish that it were possible that I might some day have the priviledge of seeing & speaking to her Father—8

believe me | yrs. very sincerely | J. Traherne Moggridge.

I think that we shall be at the above adress for a month at least.


The year is established by the reference to meeting Henrietta Emma Darwin at Cannes (see letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866], and letter from H. E. Darwin, [c. 10 May 1866]).
On Serapias cordigera, see the letter from J. T. Moggridge, 10 May [1866] and n. 4.
Moggridge had observed a self-fertile form of Ophrys scolopax in 1864 (see letter from J. T. Moggridge, 10 May [1866], n. 2).
Moggridge had argued that Ophrys scolopax and O. apifera, together with O. arachnites and O. aranifera, were varieties of a single species, O. insectifera (see letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866] and n. 6).
Edouard Bornet worked for many years with Gustave Adolphe Thuret, at Thuret’s garden in Antibes, France (DBF).
CD did not refer to this information on the transmission of characters in Cistus in any of his published works; however, in Variation 1: 389 and 2: 140, CD cited information from Bornet on the fertility of Cistus hybrids. See also letter to J. T. Moggridge, 13 November [1866].
Henrietta Emma Darwin had met Moggridge during her stay in the south of France. See letter from H. E. Darwin, [c. 10 May 1866].
Moggridge visited Down from 23 to 25 June 1866 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


DBF: Dictionnaire de biographie Française. Under the direction of J. Balteau et al. 21 vols. (A–Le Nain) to date. Paris: Librairie Letouzey & Ané. 1933–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends plants from France.

J. B. E. Bornet of Antibes, working in G. A. Thuret’s garden, finds Cistus hybrids do not follow the old dictum of having the mother’s foliage and the father’s habit. Bornet is engaged in long-term study.

JTM seeks invitation to Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Traherne Moggridge
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Hyde Park
Source of text
DAR 171: 206
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5096,” accessed on 15 January 2021,

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