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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   19 December 1874


19 Dec | 1874

My dear Sir

It is too bad to talk of asking “favours”!—1

xx The Utricularia montana business: I mean as to its tenants— I fear you must settle, so I have sent a valuable little parcel— it goes today for yr. inspection.—2 By the way I would suggest that you shd. retain the parcel until after Xmas-parcel-delivery work gets over when it might get astray.

Byblis: there are 2 species in Australia:—viz. B. liniflora, Salisb (of which B. filifolia, Pl. is a synonym) No. Australia & Queensland. &

B. gigantea, Lindl. (of which B. Lindleyana, Pl. is syn.) confined to W. Australia.3

Census of Drosera. Benth. & Hook. in their Genera Plant.m estimate Drosera at 100 species.

Benth. has 41 spp. in Australia. Harvey & Sonder 8 spp. in Cape land. & 2 Roridulas4

Genlisea5   How stupid not to have put specimens in along with the Utricularia montana!—

I doubt now that I have referred to our specns. your making much of them. Here is a fragment of leaf-tuft of one.— Genlisea is simply Utricularia with 5-lobed calyx.6 Several spp. are descd.—1 by me in Africa. They are descd. as “Herbae annuae, paludosæ”.7

Very sincerely yours | Danl. Olver

CD annotations

1.1 It is … W. Australia. 4.1] crossed pencil
7.1 Genliseapaludosæ” 8.3] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Name of Byblis | Census of Drosera’ ink


CD’s letter to Oliver of 18 December 1874, is published in this Correspondence vol. 30, Supplement.
CD discussed Utricularia montana (now U. alpina) in Insectivorous plants, pp. 431–53, and the contents of its bladders in ibid., pp. 435–7. CD examined plants and dried specimens from Kew, and also had two plants from Dorothy Fanny Nevill (see letter from D. F. Nevill, 8 [September 1874]).
CD discussed Byblis gigantea in Insectivorous plants, pp. 343–4. Byblis liniflora, B. filifolia, and B. gigantea are currently recognised names. For more on changes in the classification of Byblis (rainbow plants), see Conran et al. 2002.
Oliver refers to Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 1: 662 (Genera plantarum), Bentham 1863–78, 2: 453 (Flora Australiensis), and Harvey and Sonder 1859–65, 1: 75 (Flora Capensis). William Henry Harvey and Otto Wilhelm Sonder included Roridula as a member of the Droseraceae; it is now assigned to its own family, Roridulaceae.
CD discussed Genlisea (corkscrew plants) in Insectivorous plants, pp. 446–52.
CD credited Oliver with this observation in Insectivorous plants, p. 446. Most species of Utricularia (bladderworts) have two calyx lobes, while some have four.
Herbae annuae paludosae: annual marsh herbs (Latin). Oliver described Genlisea africana in the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 145–6. CD discussed G. africana in Insectivorous plants, p. 451.


Bentham, George and Mueller, Ferdinand von. 1863–78. Flora Australiensis: a description of the plants of the Australian territory. 7 vols. London: Lovell Reeve and Company.

Flora Capensis: Flora Capensis: being a systematic description of the plants of the Cape Colony, Caffraria & Port Natal, and neighbouring territories. Vols. 1–3 by William Henry Harvey and Otto Wilhelm Sonder; vols. 4–7 edited by William Turner Thiselton-Dyer; vol. 5 sect. II and supplement edited by Arthur William Hill. 7 vols. and supplement. London: L. Reeve and Co. 1860–1933.

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


Sends Utricularia montana and Byblis species.

Drosera census numbers 100 species.

Genlisea distinguished from Utricularia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 58.1: 112–13
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9765,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

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