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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   30 August – 14 September [1873]1

Saturday | Aug 30 8.15. A.M.

The mimosa that was in pantry with leaf in water seems recovered; but perhaps the leaflets are in a very slight degree slower in moving than rest of plant, but the morning is cold and the whole plant is slow in moving2

Tuesday Sep 2. put the plant in the pantry to give it a little warm

Sep 3— seems half dead— does not move when touched— immersed leaflets getting yellow

Sep 5. immersed leaf very ill yellowish one quite yellow not sensitive whole plant hardly sensitive   The leaf gradually died & dropped off in the course of the next few days— the plant was put into glass case again & recovered—but is very torpid.

Aug 30th. The plant with leaflets in cold water I have not been able to look at for 2 days. Yesterday at 5 PM (A) one leaflet was fairly open in water and (B) the other half open half shut   this second leaflet may have been injured by pressing against pot as last night at 11. While the one leaflet was closed this second one was in the same state closed the base half & open at the top. Now Aug 30. 8.20 A.M. (A) leaflet is not open though rest of plant is and (B) leaflet is in exactly the same state as last night. it is cold and I put a candle in the case to see the effect in an hour

9.30 got heat to 72o–3o3— (water rising about 3o to 62o) both leaflets opened properly.

Monday Sep 1 6. PM both leaflets open in water but ragged & sickly looking— did not move on being touched— did not close in the dark—as did rest of plant

Tuesday Sep 2 8.30 AM leaflets still open— dead to touch— yellow one leaflet dropped off— also one of the leaflets that had not been immersed dead to touch, whole plant very torpid even new young leaf— put it in pantry to try if warmth will revive it the immersed leaflets are all drooping & draggled

Wednesday Sep 3 whole plant seems half dead— immersed leaflets quite yellow one came off to the touch— plant quite torpid.

Sep 5— brought plant back into glass case— leaf very ill & yellowish the whole plant hardly sensitive.

After this the leaf gradually died & dropped off and the plant recovered—but is torpid from cold

Sep 14

both plants seem well but rather slow.

CD annotations

1.1 pantry] after ‘warm’ interl ink
1.1 leaf] del; ‘leaf’ added pencil
1.1 The … moving 1.3] ‘Southampton experiment’ added red crayon
5.1 I have] after ‘I think put in on 16th or 17’ interl ink
6.1 9.30 … properly. 6.2] ‘(I may say kept slow & opened after a fortnight immersed but [little greater warmth] in pantry soon kills leaf— I think I have note of [testing])’4 added ink
Top of letter: ‘Southampton’ red crayon; ‘Mimosa’ ink, underl red crayon


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, [22 August 1873].
See letters from W. E. Darwin, [22 August 1873] and n. 2, and [25 August 1873].
72oF: 22oC
CD did not publish on the sensitivity of Mimosa leaves immersed in water.


Experiments on Mimosa.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 108
Physical description
Amem 6pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9035,” accessed on 18 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21