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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   20 December 1876

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

Dec 20. 1876

My dear Gray.

Very many thanks about Hottonia.1 You mention Forsythia in the American Naturalist, and I have just examined dried flowers from Kew, & find that F. suspensa is beautifully dimorphic; so I have got a new family.2 I have been thinking about your proposed new terms, and I cannot for very shame change again   I have used this term in two or three printed articles, and it is used by several German & Italian writers. Kuhn objected to the term on the same ground as you do; but no one objects to Vertebrata, because it includes an animal without vertebræ. Moreover heterostyled seems to me more definite than heterogone, as the latter would apply to di & monœcious & to polygamous plants. I am of course not able to appreciate the difficulty of working in the term in systematic works; but Thwaites speaks of forma stylosa, & why may not a species be called hetero stylosa?3

However this may be it really would be too ridiculous for me to change again, so I remain Your affectionate & obstinate friend | Charles Darwin


Thanks for information about Hottonia.

Has found dimorphism in Forsythia.

Considers AG’s arguments on different terms for dimorphism, but cannot change to using the proposed new term [see 10699].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (116)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10728,” accessed on 21 October 2019,

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