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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   [before February 1868]1

Primula veris L. sp. Pl. 204 included both cowslip & Primrose

his vars were *Galpha*G. officinalis

*Gbeta*G elatior

*Ggamma*G acaulis2


Benth. makes all one species P. veris L.

distingg. P. vulgaris Brit. Fl. = Primrose

veris. Brit. Fl. = Cowslip

elatior " — = oxlip.3


Continent (Koch)

calls Primrose P. acaulis. Jacq. Misc. 1.158

Cowslip P. officinalis Jacq. l.c.1594


The date is established by the use of this material in CD’s paper ‘Specific difference in Primula’, which was completed on 1 February 1868 (see n. 2, below, and ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).
The taxonomy of Primula, together with the Greek symbols, are given in Species plantarum (Linnaeus 1753, pp. 142–4). Carolus Linnaeus classed P. elatior (the oxlip) and P. acaulis (now P. vulgaris, the primrose) as varieties of P. veris (the cowslip). CD noted Linnaeus’s taxonomy of Primula in ‘Specific difference in Primula’, p. 437; CD argued, however, that P. veris and P. vulgaris were distinct species, and that P. elatior was a hybrid of P. veris and P. vulgaris. CD also argued that P. elatior, Jacq. (the Bardfield oxlip) was a distinct species.
In his Handbook of the British flora, George Bentham described the three forms of Primula, remarking that, while most botanists since Linnaeus had considered them as distinct species, more recent investigation had shown that Linnaeus’s views were correct (Bentham 1865, pp. 538–9).
The reference is to Wilhelm Daniel Joseph Koch. The taxonomy is given in Koch 1843–4, 2: 673–4. The page references are to the original descriptions in Jacquin 1778–81.


Notes on the taxonomy of Primula.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 108: 81

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5824F,” accessed on 24 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16