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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Adolf Reuter   11 January 1870

Pfauen-Insel near Potsdam

the 11.1.70.

Dear Sir!

I suppose, that you have been very much astonished to receive some months ago a small box from Germany with different fruits of oranges, a specimen of wine1 and a sort of beans without any letter.—

Dearest Sir I took me the liberty to send it to you and I did have also the intention to send you afterwards a letter with some explications but I did have the misfortune to fall down in our Oranges-house, so that I was forced to stop in the bed for some weeks. In this time I did receive also the order to change my place and to govern another garden, what was a very great trouble for me.—

I am now on the Pfauen Insel (Isle of Pavons), one and a half hour of Potsdam, a very interesting place, a fine Island populated with more than sixty pavons2 and other birds in a quit wild state, decorated by different trees, shrubs and also fine collections of Palms.

Because the Isle is very isolated, so it will be the greatest pleasure for me to collect so much as possible for you.—

The reason for what I did send you the fruits, was to show you a small collection of our cultivated Oranges-varietys and mostly for the one monstrosity, where perhaps a citron and an orange is joined in one fruit; all the fruits of this tree are in the same manner but some more or less monstrous than the others.—3

The Ink-wine is interesting because his leaves are red coloured and also no other wine variety has quit red colouring sap as it is the case with the last.4

The bean with the blue fruits has rose flowers and is perhaps a hybrid between Phaseolus vulgaris and any species of Dolichos?—5

Their origin is the garden of Mr. Lucas, Pomologist at Reutlingen in Würtenberg.6

I was very much enjoyed indeed, as you told me in your last letter, that you and also our adorated Dr. Hooker from Kew was astonished about the specimens which I did send you—7 You are indeed to indulgent with me and I am always anxious that I molest you to often!—

With my sincerest thank for all the signs of your favour and kindness I have the honour to be my Dearest Sir | your | most obedient servant | Ad. Reuter.

My address is now:

Ad. Reuter Pfauen-Insel near Potsdam.)


Wine: i.e. vine. See n. 4, below.
Pavons: i.e. peacocks (Pavo cristatus).
CD had discussed crosses between oranges and lemons in Variation 1: 399, 2: 365.
Reuter probably refers to Passiflora suberosa, then known as the ink vine, now the corky passionflower, devil’s pumpkin, or indigo berry (Halliday 1837, p. 398; ITIS). The sap of this plant was generally black.
Phaseolus vulgaris is the French bean. Dolichos is a genus in the same family (Fabaceae); the number of species now included in Dolichos has been greatly reduced from that which Reuter would have known. For more on the genus as it was recognised at this time, see Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 1: 540–1.
Reuter refers to Eduard Lucas.


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

Halliday, Andrew. 1837. The West Indies: the natural and physical history of the Windward and Leeward colonies. London: John William Parker.

ITIS: Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends monstrous oranges,

red grape leaves,

and a bean with blue fruits (a hybrid of Phaseolus vulgaris and a Dolichos species).

Letter details

Letter no.
Adolf Reuter
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Pfauen Insel, near Potsdam
Source of text
DAR 176: 127
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7075,” accessed on 12 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18