skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   5 December [1866]


Dec 5th.

My dear Hooker

I will send tonight (if I can find basket; if not next week) both forms of Mitchella repens, Leersia & some plants of Peloric antirrhinum;1 these you can throw away if you like but they are well worth keeping, & I never saw anybody so pleased with a plant as was Häckel2 with these monsters. I enclose some seeds of a twining Leguminous plant from Southern Brazil which you can throw away if you like; they adhere to the open pod.3 As for the splendid crimson seeds I am going to pass them through a fowl & if they are not ground up & grow you shall have the plants; Müller describes the appearance of the tree as magnificent when in fruit.4 I enjoyed my visit to Kew exceedingly & was only moderately knocked up. I was very glad to see Mrs. Hooker looking so well.5

yours affecately. | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I am ungrateful dog & quite forgot at time to thank Mrs. Hooker for telling me of life of my grandfather, of which I had not heard, but have now got it.—6


CD had obtained specimens of Mitchella repens, a plant native to eastern North America, from Asa Gray in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Asa Gray, 2 January [1863] and n. 5). He performed crossing experiments with the heterostyled flowers in 1864 and 1865, and reported his results in Forms of flowers, pp. 125–7. William Bennett had supplied CD with specimens of Leersia oryzoides in 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from William Bennett, 25 May 1864 and n. 1). CD had sent Hooker peloric flowers of Antirrhinum majus and reported that all the progeny of self-pollinated specimens of peloric flowers were also peloric (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 June [1865] and n. 11).
Ernst Haeckel had recently visited CD at Down (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [21 October 1866], n. 1).
Fritz Müller had reported finding the seeds of a leguminous twining plant with black and red seeds, probably of the genus Rhynchosia, in his letter of 1 and 3 October 1866, and evidently sent specimens to CD. At the top of this letter, Hooker wrote ‘Abrus precatorius??’, a guess as to the identity of the seeds.
For Müller’s description of the tree and the appearance of these seeds, see the letter from Fritz Müller, 1 and 3 October 1866.
CD visited Kew on 27 November; Frances Harriet Hooker gave birth to her sixth child, Reginald Hawthorn Hooker, on 12 January 1867 (Allan 1967 s.v. ‘Hooker pedigree’).
The reference is probably to Dowson 1861 (CD’s copy is at CUL). CD already knew about the biography of Erasmus Darwin written by Anna Seward (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Hermann Kindt, 13 November 1865 and n. 3).


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

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

Dowson, John. 1861. Erasmus Darwin: philosopher, poet, and physician. A lecture to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Whitby. London: H. K. Lewis.

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


Is sending some plants and seeds to JDH.

Thanks Mrs Hooker for telling him of a life of his grandfather [Erasmus Darwin] of which he had not heard.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 307
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5295,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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