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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [19 May 1864]1


My dear Wm

Yr observation on the 1 big anther with its differently sized pollen grains is a quite new & most extraordinary discovery.2 I remember distinctly seeing one anther much larger than all the others; but I never dreamed of the pollen-grains differing.

Never mind whether it kills you or not search more flowers & measure pollen & keep memorandum how many times you succeed for I shall lay great stress on this to me most unexpected discovery.

I return your letter (which keep most safely) & it may be of service to you, but more especially because I think you have written one, or 2 words wrong which I have pencilled for correction.3

Never mind Menianthes Rhamnus4 or your life but work this out. Goodbye | what weather | C. D.

I wish you many ever get the little mare.5 She does beautifully—


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters from W. E. Darwin, 18 May [1864] and [20 May 1864] (Correspondence vol. 12).
See Correspondence vol. 12, letter from W. E. Darwin, 18 May [1864]. William had included sketches of the anthers of long-styled and short-styled flowers of Pulmonaria angustifolia (blue cowslip); see also letter from W. E. Darwin, [20 May 1864] and n. 3.
For CD’s annotations, see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from W. E. Darwin, 18 May [1864].
For CD’s query regarding Menyanthes (buckbean or marsh trefoil), see the letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [17 May 1864] (Correspondence vol. 12). For CD’s interest in Rhamnus (buckthorn), see ibid., letter from H. E. Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [18 May 1864] and n. 2. Most of CD’s work on Rhamnus was done in 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14).
The mare was evidently a horse that William planned to buy, but which was kept at Down for some time (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from H. E. Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [18 May 1864]).


Mentions WED’s extraordinary discovery of some pollen-grains of different sizes. The observations must be followed up.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 186
Physical description
L(S) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5333,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)