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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   7 February [1867]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Feb 7

My dear Sir

I feel very guilty at not having sooner thanked you for your letter of Dec 1. which contained much valuable information.2 The reason has been that I have been very busy in making alterations in my M.S. for my book on domestic animals &c which is at last in the printer’s hands.3 I am very much obliged for the seeds of Cordia &c which are planted & if I can make them flower will be highly interesting to me.4 Your letter told me much on many points of value to me. You have communicated to me many more cases than any two or three botanists put together.

I have quoted your evidence on the self-sterility of Ocidium flexuosum;5 it is said to be a native of Brazil, but I much wish to know whether it is a native of your district.

I have many striking cases of similar self-sterility with Orchids, but have hitherto always attributed them to cultivation under unnatural conditions & this makes your case very interesting to me.6 This is a very dull letter, but I did not wish to defer any longer thanking you.

Believe me my dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. Would you be so good as to tell me whether I ought to direct to you as Professor or Dr Fritz Müller


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Fritz Müller, 1 April 1867.
CD had sent the manuscript for Variation to William Clowes & Sons the previous day (see letter to W. D. Fox, 6 February [1867] and n. 2).
Müller may have included seeds of Cordia, a genus he thought was dimorphic, with his letter of 1 December 1866 (Correspondence vol. 14); he had sent specimens of Cordia earlier in that year, and had promised to send seeds (see ibid., letters from Fritz Müller, 1 and 3 October 1866). CD discussed Cordia in Forms of flowers, pp. 117–18, 253.
For Müller’s earlier discussions on the self-sterility of Oncidium flexuosum, see Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Fritz Müller, 1 December 1866 and n. 8, and this volume, letters from Fritz Müller, 1 January 1867 and nn. 1, 2, and 5, and 2 February 1867 and n. 9. CD reported Müller’s findings in Variation 2: 134–5.
See Variation 2: 133–4; see also Correspondence vol. 12, letter to Daniel Oliver, 18 March [1864] and n. 7. CD discussed his conclusions on this subject in Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 340–7.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

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

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


CD’s Variation is in printer’s hands.

Orchid self-sterility.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 12)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5393,” accessed on 26 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15