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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. A. Leighton   [1–23 July 1841]1

My dear Sir

A few days since I was struck by the difference in aspect of a Cynoglossum from the common species. Being no Botanist I did not even know there were two species, till on consulting your work.2 I have no doubt it was the C. sylvaticum, as it was of a much paler green, with narrower leaves & of a more upright growth. Observing that you do not appear to have seen a Shropshire specimen3 it has occurred to me that you would like to know where I saw my plant, for the chance of a non-botanist having observed correctly.— the following diagram will best show position. diagram

Should you think it worth while to visit this spot, will you be so kind as to take the trouble at any time to inform me whether it is the C. sylvaticum. I should have had much pleasure in showing you the spot myself, but I am at present far from strong & am obliged to avoid all extra exertion—

Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin. Saturday



This letter might have been written during any Shrewsbury visit from the summer of 1841 to November 1848, but CD’s illness in the summer of 1841 makes this date likely. According to CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) he travelled from Maer to Shrewsbury on 1 July and on to London on 23 July.
Leighton 1841.
Leighton had not himself seen a specimen of C. sylvaticum in Shropshire, but he mentions a sighting by a Miss McGhie near Ludlow (Leighton 1841, p. 101).


Tells WAL where specimen of Cynoglossum sylvaticum may be seen growing.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Allport Leighton
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 39
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 631,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2