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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. C. Marshall   30 August [1874]1

Derwent Island

Augus 30th.

Dear Mr. Darwin

I have sent off a box with a few pinguicula leaves for you today.2

There are I think 3 seeds on them, one a grass seed, one on a withered leaf wh. will I fear be no use, & another wh. when I packed it had formed a globule of fluid about it. I will endeavour to find some more seeds when the rain stops, if it ever does.

I can not trace the secretion from the insects, all I see is that the leaves frequently collect a sticky fluid in sufficient quantities to flow, & that this generally settles in the curled edge. I dont know how far this is merely the effect of rain.

I will send the porportion of leaves with flies on, when I have been able to count some more, I think decidedly more than half have flies on them.3

I noticed a few plants in Switzerland this summer, but had no lens with me., & I did not notice many flies as a rule; but in one spot I found some plants wh. were covered with flies

believe me | yrs. truly | W. C. Marshall

P.S. I have sent a leaf wh. seems to have eated a fly wh. disagreed with it, there is a hole in the leaf as if burnt & the remains of the fly are seen stretching accross it.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. C. Marshall, 8 June [1874].
In Insectivorous plants, p. 369, CD wrote that he was led to investigate the habit of Pinguicula (butterwort) by being told by Marshall that on the mountains of Cumberland many insects adhered to the leaves. CD asked for leaves to be sent to him in his letter to Marshall of 8 June [1874].


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


Sends CD a box of Pinguicula leaves.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Cecil (Bill) Marshall
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Derwent Island
Source of text
DAR 58.1: 125–6
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9612,” accessed on 23 September 2020,

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