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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   15 December 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 15. 1876

My dear Hooker,

You have rejoiced my soul, for Forsythia turns out to be beautifully dimorphic. Both the flowers of F. viridissima belong to the same form but no doubt the species is dimorphic. Asa Gray says that only a short-styled form is grown near Cambridge, and the dried flower marked ‘Kew Gardens’ is likewise short-styled   it would therefore be very useful to me to learn if possible whether your plants in the garden ever set seed.1

You have not only rejoiced my soul, but my stomach, for the bananas are simply delicious. I never saw any like them. But you must not send anymore or you will make me too greedy2

Yrs affectionately | Ch. Darwin


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 December 1876 and n. 3. Gray’s observations were in American Naturalist 7 (1873): 422–3. Forsythia viridissima is the green-stemmed forsythia; Gray referred to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since Forsythia is self-sterile, CD wanted to know whether illegitimate unions of the short-styled form of F. suspensa (weeping forsythia, the only species growing at Kew) ever produced seed. In Forms of flowers, p. 117, CD wrote that they did not.


Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.


JDH has sent a short-styled Forsythia from Kew. CD surmises that all Forsythia at Kew may be short-styled, hence he is curious to know whether they set seed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 429
Physical description
LS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10721,” accessed on 23 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24