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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [May 1846]

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Hooker

I write merely to say that I this day have sent off by the Kew Boat, M. Tandon & the two nos of Hort. Journal.—1 I shd. think more of Tandon, if his arrangement & a good many of his ideas & perhaps conclusions had not been copied from Is. St. Hilaires Animal Teratologie.—2 I observe that he says at Thoulouse every year alpine plants are brought into the Bot. Garden.— Do you ever correspond with or know him? I shd. like to hear something about these alpine plants; Linnæus, I remember, says they are generally sterile in lowland gardens; & I shd be curious to know how this is;3 whether the pollen is bad as it is in some cases or whether the fruit after setting fails. What fine opportunities M. Tandon would have in trying whether any alpine varieties of lowland plants have acquired any hereditary qualities.

Thanks for Hopkirk;4 by an odd chance I have had this name in my note-book, to look at in Brit. Mus. for the last six months; so I shall be very glad to see what it is about.— What fellows these Germans are; I heard of Hopkirk, in a reference to Bronn’s Gesicckte!5 By the way I hope some future year to get some information (which I am rather curious about) at Kew, about what plants being healthy yet are sterile in cultivation: some of the head gardeners, I daresay by walking about could call my attention to what plants will seed & what won’t: I find the Pollen often affected in cultivated plants.—

I am quite delighted to hear how systematically you are going through the individual powers of transport of the Galapagos plants; I have often wished to see this done, & I have never met with such a discussion.— (Mem: there is one N. American or Mexican bird at the Galapagos.)6

What a pity that the shells are different on opposite sides of Panama (as Cuming declares: I wish I had cross-questioned him closely on this point) for if they had not been so, how easy it would have been to have broken down ie not elevated the isthmus & so procured new & perhaps southerly currents. Remember the only bad weather sets in, with great rollers from the north, but I fear it is not accompanied by heavy gales of wind. How interesting does the problem become, when your exact knowledge drives one to speculate on a particular course of migration & not from America in the whole, as I have always looked at it.—

Where are Petit Thouars observations; I shd like to see them?

I had never heard a word except from Forbes, about Edmondstone,7 & am grieved at (but will never repeat) what you say: he sent the other day a long letter to Forbes with nothing original in it. I urged him by letter to collect everything at the Galapagos, & attend particularly to the productions of the different islands.

I shd. like sometime to hear what you think of Dieffenbach. (whom I saw the other day) I never know what to think of his abilities, & rather fear they are less than his zeal: he seems very poor, & I cannot think on what he can live: he is in poor lodgings at 62 S. Molton St.—

Farewell my dear Hooker—with many thanks for all the books you have lent me— How curious I shall be for the Galapagos Paper: I have one or two numbers of your A. Flora unread & intend to let one or two more accumulate before I do read them as that gives me more satisfaction.

Yours Ever | C. D.


Moquin-Tandon 1841 and the first two numbers of the Journal of the Horticultural Society of London, which included W. Herbert 1846. See letters to J. D. Hooker, [10 February 1846] and 10 April [1846].
I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire 1832–7. CD possessed a copy of this work (Darwin Library–CUL).
Linnaeus 1741. According to his reading notebook, CD read this and other articles from the Kongliga Swenska Wetenskaps Academiens handlingar in manuscript translation at Maer, the Wedgwood family home, during a visit there from 10 June to 14 November 1840: ‘Sweedish Philosoph. Acts. vol 1 to 7. M.S. Translat.— from 1740.’ (DAR 119; Vorzimmer 1977, p. 124).
Bronn 1841–9.
Dolichonyx oryzivorus, a lark-like finch (Birds, p. 106).
Thomas Edmondston, naturalist on board H.M.S. Herald.


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore. 1832–7. Histoire générale et particulière des anomalies de l’organisation chez l’homme et les animaux, ouvrage comprenant des recherches sur les charactères, la classification, l’influence physiologique et pathologique, les rapports généraux, les lois et les causes des monstruosites, des variétés et des vices de conformation, ou traité de tératologie. 3 vols. and atlas. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

Hopkirk, Thomas. 1817. Flora anomoia. A general view of the anomalies in the vegetable kingdom. Glasgow.

Linnaeus, Carolus (Carl von Linné). 1741. Rön om växters plantering, grundat paae86 naturen. Kongliga Swenska Wetenskaps Academiens handlingar 1: 5–24.

Moquin-Tandon, Horace Bénédict Alfred. 1841. Eléments de tératologie végétale, ou, histoire abrégée des anomalies de l’organisation dans les végétaux. Paris: P.-J. Loss.

Vorzimmer, Peter J. 1977. The Darwin reading notebooks (1838-1860). Journal of the History of Biology 10: 107–53.


Interested in sterility of alpine plants in lowland and sterility of some plants in cultivation.

Curious to see Galapagos paper.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 61
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 971,” accessed on 9 April 2020,

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