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Darwin Correspondence Project

To the Linnean Society   22 February [1867]1

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

Feb. 22

My dear Sir

I send by this post a paper which has been sent to me by a gentleman at the Cape of Good Hope with the request that I would communicate it, if I thought fit, to the Linn. Soc.2 On a subject on which I feel so much interest I do not feel capable of judging whether it is worthy of being read & published by the Society. The paper describes a new species of that extraordinary genus Bonatea, & gives some new & curious details on its fertilization; but the paper is too diffuse & perhaps gives too many extraneous remarks. It will be difficult for the referee, should the paper be read & published, to determine what illustrations shd be added;3 but perhaps the Council may think that enough or too much has already been published on the fertilzation of Orchids.4

My dear Sir | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Weale 1867 (see n. 2, below), which was read at the Linnean Society in March 1867.
James Philip Mansel Weale enclosed a manuscript with his letter of 9 January 1867; the manuscript (now in the Linnean Society archives, SP1249) was later published as Weale 1867. Weale lived in Bedford, Cape Colony.
The paper was read at the Linnean Society on 7 March 1867, and was published in the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany); one illustration showing four figures was included (see Weale 1867, p. 473). On the publishing of the paper, see the letter to the Linnean Society, 9 December [1867], and the letter to J. P. M. Weale, 9 December [1867]. An annotated copy of Weale 1867 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Papers on orchids appearing in the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) following the publication of Orchids and ‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum included Trimen 1863 and 1864, Crüger 1864, and Moggridge 1864; the first three of these were communicated to the Linnean Society by CD.


Crüger, Hermann. 1864. A few notes on the fecundation of orchids and their morphology. [Read 3 March 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 127–35.

Moggridge, John Traherne. 1864. Observations on some orchids of the south of France. [Read 3 November 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 256–8.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum’: On the three remarkable sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, an orchid in the possession of the Linnean Society. By Charles Darwin. [Read 3 April 1862.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. [Collected papers 2: 63–70.]

Trimen, Roland. 1863. On the fertilization of Disa grandiflora, Linn.... drawn up from notes and drawings sent to C. Darwin, Esq., FLS, &c. [Read 4 June 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 144–7.

Weale, James Philip Mansel. 1867. Notes on the structure and fertilization of the genus Bonatea, with a special description of a species found at Bedford, South Africa. [Read 7 March 1867.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 470–6.


Sends J. P. M. Weale’s paper on Bonatea for consideration by Linnean Society [J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 10 (1869): 470–6].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Linnean Society
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (SP.1249)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5411,” accessed on 21 January 2020,

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