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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [after 12 July 1845]1


Your collection was the main material—amounting to 153 species of flowering plants and (& +) 40 of Cryptog. i.e. 153 + 40 not 42 = 193 total, your,

Yours Total

193 : 225 :: 1 :

Macræ a collector of the Hort. Soc. formed the best part of the Albemarle Isld Collections ie. 42 phænogamic plants, you collected 7. Phænogamic there 4 of which are not in Macræ’s— Macræs total Galap are these of Albemarle Isld & one Fern. Douglas & Scouler on their way to the Columbia river collected some plants on James Isld about 15 species.2 Of these 15, 6 you did not get at all, & 5 you got on other Islds, (not on Jas.)— the other 5 both of you got on Jas Isld. Thus though you both collected on one small Isld. your collections are very different, 11 out of his 15 you did not collect & he only 5 out of the 60 that you got, this is terribly unsatisfactory.

The only other collector is Cuming who got one Scalesia which you did not but hardly another species of plant, if you see him ask him what Isld he landed on, I did ask him once but forget. I saw at Paris a few Galaps. from Petit Thouars I think late voyage.3

In all the numerical estimates I would exclude the Cryptogs. Even the Ferns except the prop. these bear to Phænog.—there are 28 species—Chas Isld: 10, James 20, Albem. 1. I make 6 new species, only one however is very remarkable it is from Jas. Isld— The rest 22 are almost all W. Indian— There are no limits to the diffusion of Ferns. (beasts)

Scalesia is a peculiar Galapagæan arborescent Compos containing 6 species—one from Cuming. 1 Chatham Isld:—1 Albemarle, 1 Chas Isld & two James Isld.— ! — it is no doubt a damp region tree, analogous no affinity to the arborescent Comp. of Juan Fernandez, St. Helena & I think Mauritius has some too.

I cannot remember the tortoises tree, but I think you noted it, if so I have also in the paper sent to Linn. Soc.4

I remarked also what you say of Chas’ Isld & took notice of the plants at the time. Compos Ageratum conyzoides, Nicotiana glutinosa, Teucrium inflatum, Salvia tiliæfolia, Scoparia dulci Lantana canescens?— Verbena littoralis, Boussingaultia baselloides, Brandesia echinocephala, Sandwich Islds. only previously maranthus celosioides & aracasanus, Phyllanthus obovatus, Urtica canadensis & divaricata, Hypoxis erecta, Cyperus strigosus, Panicum colonum— are all plants of S. America not found in the other Galapagos, those underlined are no doubt introduced by man, the rest I would expect in the other Islands.. & may or may not be introduced by man, I incline to think not. Take these 10 from the 68 Chas. Isld plants & the peculiar balance the common, is not this funny, upon my honor I have not cooked the result!—

Thus, as far as the collections go, the Florula of each Islet is 12 peculiar, but mark—; the very few species of Douglas & Macræ so disturb the results drawn from your special Herbarium, that there is no saying positively what a third collector might produce.

The instances of representative species on the several Islets may be divided into 2 groups, 1 st. of peculiar genera, as Scalesia see p. 25 & Galapagoa one Alb. & one Chas & Alb. & 2 nd. Extra Galapageian genera having peculiar Galapageian species. Thus, the

Euphorbiæ are very peculiar, only one species,

pilulifera (Jas. Isld.) is mundane, but of 7 others not one is common to 2 Islets.— Acalypha has 6 species, in the same predicament, (here the species of 2 very mundane genera are not widely dispersed) Cordia has 5 species,—2 Jas’ Isld. 1 Alb. & Chas (an a & b however) 1, Albem. & Jas. 1 Chat. & Alb.

Compos Lerontea has one Chat. & 2 species Albemarle.

Erigeron?. 1, Chas & Jas. & 1, Albemarle

Milleria? 1. Chas & 1 Jas.

Spilanthes? 1, Albem. 1 Jas.

Nov Gen. Compos, 1. Alb. & Jas;—1 Chat & Chas.

3 other unknown Compos are each confined to one Islet—

These compos, so far, very wonderfully peculiar to seperate Islets, add Scalesia & more so still.

Borreria is a mundane genus with 7 species all peculiar, only one of which is found on 2 Islets, & yet this is a genus of canaille all the world over. Chiococca 3 species 1 Chat, 1 Jas & 1 Albem. Ipomea 2 peculiar species both on Jas. one mundane on Chatham

These are the most marked instances of peculiarity in the distribution of the peculiar species of genera presenting more than one representative

There is still an enormous deal to be done with the materials—a comparison of the Islets with all the extra Galapageian species eliminated. A comparison of each with the coast Flora. The proportion of driftable & portable xtra Galap. plants in each:—those that fly or are flown by birds, those that salt water does & does not kill: that birds do & do not digest &c &c &c.

The collection is out & out S. American, & W. coast, but from the peculiarity of some genera & most species, I should not have known where to put it, supposing Galapagos not to xist. I know so much of the Flora of the coast as not to expect so much novelty from any 100 miles of it, if forced to assign the place it wd. probably be Panama

The opuntia is nowhere in the coll.6 The Flora is S. American throughout in character. What is the Flora of St. Felix Islds on the S. Tropic.

I hope you can read this: pray ask me about any difficulties without ceremony I will write ere long.

Ever yours Jos D Hooker

CD annotations

1.4 193 … 1:] ‘ie (32) not mine’ added ink
1.4 225] ‘19332added pencil below
‘6.’added brown crayon, underl brown crayon


These answers to CD’s inquiries about Galápagos plants were written on the back of CD’s questions (enclosure with letter to J. D. Hooker, [11–12 July 1845]). See Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 392–3 for CD’s use of these notes in his much revised Galápagos chapter.
David Douglas and John Scoulter touched at James Island on the Hudson’s Bay Company’s expedition to the Columbia river, 1824–5.
Abel Aubert Du Petit-Thouars, who circumnavigated the globe, 1836–9. See Du Petit-Thouars 1840–3, 2: 313–22, for an account of his visit to the Galápagos Islands.
The tortoises feed on the lichen Usnea plicata which hangs from the branches of trees in the upper damp regions of the islands (J. D. Hooker 1845d, p. 164, and Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 382).
Hooker numbered the pages of his reply to CD and refers back to paragraph five.
CD’s Galápagos Opuntia specimens were described in Henslow 1837.


Du Petit-Thouars, Abel Aubert. 1840–3. Voyage autour du monde sur la frégate La Vénus, pendant les années 1836–1839. Relation. 4 vols. and atlas. Paris.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


Answers CD’s questions relating to the flora of the Galapagos. [See 889.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 43–7
Physical description
AL 3pp, JDH note 7pp †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 883,” accessed on 21 May 2022,

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