skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. T. Moggridge   5 and 6 July [1866]1

3 Marlborough Villas

July 5.

Dear Mr. Darwin

Yesterday I obtained from Mr. J. G. Baker (late of Thirsk)2 the seed of Ononis Columnæ which I enclose—3

Packet No. 1, contains seed from one individual only—

Packet No. 2 seed from several individuals of this species—

Mr. Baker tells me that in Mentha hirsuta many variations in the relative lengths of Pistil, Stamens & Corolla occur in the same head—4

July 6th. Yours received this morning— The best reward you can give me for a well executed commission is to entrust me with another.—5

With very kind regards to all your circle6 | Believe me | Yrs. very sincerely | J. Traherne Moggridge.

I fear that Herbarium seed often fails so I shall try to obtain some more, &, if possible, some from living plants.7


The year is established on the basis of the appointment of John Gilbert Baker to the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1866 (see n. 2, below), and by the references to seed of Ononis columnae (see n. 7, below).
Baker had owned a drapery business in Thirsk, Yorkshire, until 1864, when his home and premises were destroyed by fire; he became an assistant in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1866 (DSB).
CD was interested in the cleistogamic flowers of Ononis, and described those of O. columnae in Origin 5th ed., p. 153, and Forms of flowers, pp. 325–6.
Mentha hirsuta and other species of mint belong to a category of dimorphic plants that CD later called ‘gyno-dioecious’; it is briefly mentioned in the introduction to the section on ‘gyno-dioecious’ plants in Forms of flowers, p. 298. CD’s notes on M. hirsuta, based on specimens received from William Erasmus Darwin and dated 28 August 1862, are in DAR 109: A3; see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to W. E. Darwin, [5 May 1863].
CD’s letter has not been found; see, however, the letter from J. T. Moggridge, 3 August [1866].
Moggridge had met Henrietta Emma Darwin during her trip to France, and had visited the Darwin family in Down from 23 to 25 June 1866 (see letters from J. T. Moggridge, 21 May [1866], nn. 7 and 8, and 14 June [1866], n. 2).
Moggridge enclosed seeds of Ononis columnae from Mentone with his letter of 3 August [1866]. CD evidently planted these seeds in 1866; in a note dated 8 May 1867, he described the flowers of O. columnae raised from seed sent to him from northern Italy by Moggridge (DAR 111: A21).


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

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.


Sends onion and mint seeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Traherne Moggridge
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Marlborough Villas, 3
Source of text
DAR 171: 209
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5147,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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