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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette   [before 14 September 1844]

Mr. Groom1 has stated in last Number that the leaves of some of his Pelargoniums have become regularly edged with white in consequence of his having watered the plants with sulphate of ammonia which had been exposed to the air for some time. Last autumn I planted many young Box-trees; and I have for some weeks observed that nearly all the young leaves in most of them are symmetrically tipped with white, giving the young branches a mottled appearance. I counted twelve trees thus affected. The older leaves are rarely tipped, with the exception of two bushes, in which they are regularly tipped, and the younger ones much less so. Mr. Groom states that in his Pelargoniums the older leaves are chiefly affected. The Box-trees are quite healthy, and growing well. I gave to some of them nitrate of soda, but it has made no difference in this variegation. Those growing in deep shade are not tipped, nor are some older trees. These facts may appear trivial; but I think the first appearance, even if not permanent, of any peculiarity which tends to become hereditary (as I fear is the case with the variegated Sycamore) deserves being recorded.— C. Darwin.


Possibly Henry Groom, nurseryman in Clapham Rise, London. His remarks on variegated pelargoniums are in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 36, 7 September 1844, p. 605.


Referring to a correspondent who had written about Pelargonium plants whose leaves had become regularly edged with white, CD reports that nearly all the young leaves of box-trees he had planted have become symmetrically tipped with white. Though these facts seem trivial, CD believes the first appearance of any peculiarity which tends to become hereditary deserves being recorded.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gardeners’ Chronicle
Sent from
Source of text
Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 37, 14 September 1844, pp. 621

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 777,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3