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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   27 October 1869

Abinger Hall, | Reigate. (Post Town) | Gomshall (Station) S.E.R.

27 Oct/69

My dear Mr Darwin

I will certainly try to get Passiflora Princeps—

Hooker has sent me a number of flowers from Kew but none of P. pr.—1 I find no very great differences—but one or two interesting details eg (1) that the length of the upright middle corona is proportioned to the height, position & apertures of the inner one, so as to lead the bee over the knobs of the former to the apertures in the latter:

(2) the apertures in the latter seem also to be correlated to the interior projections, so as to render a straight passage to the nectar impracticable.

(3) as a matter of morphology I think that the process round the column is a first corona: making with the three developed coronas, four in all, whilst the process which forms the nectary in Passiflora, seems to be the base of the next interior corona.

I remarked with interest what Hildebrand says about geraniums— There is a passage about it at p. 28 of his book which you recommended me last year in which he ingeniously suggests that the absence of stamens in the disk flowers of Corymbifers may, be due to this cause—2 And I see that I made a note on it suggesting that it was doubtful. considering that in such flowers as Senecio—or Calendula there are an immense number of blossoms lasting throughout the year: and that unless we assume fertilization to take place in the same flower-head, (which is contrary to the hypothesis) there can be very few disk flowers which are not contemporaneous at first opening with mature pistils in other flowers.— This does not touch the case of a specially early or late Geranium or Campanula3

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

C Darwin Esqr FRS


See letter to T. H. Farrer, 20 October [1869]. For Farrer’s notes on Passiflora princeps, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix IV.
Corymbiferae was a former suborder of composite plants in which the florets of the disc were tubular and perfect while the ray florets, when present, were ligulate (OED s.v. corymbiferous). Farrer refers to Friedrich Hildebrand and Hildebrand 1867, pp. 28–9, where Hildebrand noted that the majority of corymbifers had ray florets that were female and disc florets that were protandrous. He further noted that since the ray florets opened first, there would be no need for these to have viable stamens and that over time the stamens must have first aborted, then disappeared altogether.
Senecio (the genus of groundsels and ragworts) and Calendula (marigold) were in the family Compositae (now Asteraceae); Campanula (bellflowers) is in the family Campanulaceae; Geranium (cranesbills) is in the family Geraniaceae.


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

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Observations on Passiflora.

Hildebrand on geraniums.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 59
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6958,” accessed on 5 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17