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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   24 [March 1867]



My dear H.

I return Naudin’s letter, which I have been very glad to see: it is a clear case of the direct & immediate action of the pollen on the mother-plant, & rejoices my heart, for I look at such cases as unintelligible on any common view of the act of impregnation.—1

Etty & I admire your coolness in blowing us up for not understanding your inserted new case & difficulty, & we admire still more your candour in letting the rat out of the bag.2 I do not envy your wriggles in making the case harmonise with other facts;—but it must be done & I do not doubt you will succeed.—

Müller counted above 13 sp. of orchids growing on one tree!3

You said you did not know of violet on Peak of Teneriffe, I enclose scrap which if useless cannot signify.—4

Fritz Müller has just sent me seeds of a dimorphic Plumbago, about which I bothered you:5 he has sent me seeds of a climbing Lobelia & of another kind which grows 10 ft high!!! I shall be curious to see this: I have also plants now growing of a dimorphic Cordia from S. Brazil: I never know whether any such things are worth offering you for Kew.—6 For instance I have several (& had more, but threw away) species of Oxalis from C. of Good Hope.—7 Here is a piece of good luck, a plant of Cyrtopodium of R. Brown,—the genus next to Catasetum—is coming into flower with me.—8

your affect | C. Darwin


See enclosure to letter from J. D. Hooker, 23 March 1867. CD had been uncertain about the usefulness of Charles Victor Naudin’s case of intermediate fruit produced by a cross between a fan palm and a date palm for his theory of pangenesis (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 23 March 1867 and n. 2).
Both CD and Henrietta Emma Darwin had queried a passage in Hooker’s essay on insular floras on the commonness of plants having no affinity with those of the ‘mother’ continent (J. D. Hooker 1866a); see letters to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867] and 21 March [1867], and letters from J. D. Hooker, 20 March 1867 and 23 March 1867.
The ‘scrap’ has not been found. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 January 1867 and n. 2.
CD had asked Hooker for seed of Plumbago in his letter of 24 December [1866] (Correspondence vol. 14). Hooker sent two plants, but CD wanted only the seed (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 January [1867] and n. 2).
CD later sent several plant specimens to Hooker for the collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [14 September 1867] and n. 2).
Roland Trimen had sent CD bulbs of Oxalis from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, in 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letters to Roland Trimen, 13 May 1864 and 25 November 1864).
The orchids Cyrtopodium andersonii and C. punctatum were on CD’s list of hothouse plants (DAR 255: 8; see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix VI). Cyrtopodium was named by Robert Brown (1773–1858). Both Catasetum and Cyrtopodium were placed in the subtribe Catasetidae in Lindley 1853, p. 182.


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

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.


Returns Charles Naudin’s letter with its case in support of CD’s view of impregnation.

Twits JDH for trying to wriggle out of error made in his lecture and admires his "candour in letting the rat out of the bag". [See 5449 and 5451.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 92
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5457A,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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