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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary Treat   22 June 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

June 22nd 74

My dear Madam

I am very much obliged for your extremely interesting letter, & I am glad to hear that you are studying Dionæa in so earnest a manner1   My observations on cultivated plants are now complete, and I shall publish them in six or nine months; though they will be of little value compared with those made on the plant in its own country. As you kindly offer me information, I should very much like to hear about one point. Dr Canby says that the same leaf will catch 2 or 3 insects successively. Now I find with cultivated plants that a leaf which has once caught a good sized insect, though it will open & remain so for a considerable time, has so little power of movement that it most rarely is able to catch a second insect or to close over any object. I should very much like to be able to say, what the truth is on this head.2

I remain dear Madam with my best thanks | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


William Marriott Canby of Wilmington, Delaware, had sent this observation on Dionaea (Venus fly trap) in response to a query from CD, who had mistakenly believed the plants were native there; Dionaea is native to the area around Wilmington, North Carolina (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter from W. M. Canby, 1 February 1873). CD cited information on this point from both Treat and Canby in Insectivorous plants, pp. 310–11; the book was published in July 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23, Appendix II).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Will soon publish on insectivorous plants; asks for a particular observation on Dionaea.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Mary Lua Adelia (Mary) Treat
Sent from
Source of text
Amy Nagashima (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9505,” accessed on 22 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22