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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma and Charles Darwin to W. E. Darwin   [20 May 1864]1

Dear Wm

Papa is very much obliged for the Meneanthes which he is very glad to see—especially the drawings2 which make him still more wish to have plants than he did before, but he does not see how.3

No Photo came4 | yours E. D.

Boys come tomorrow.5

I suppose you could not—

The size of Anthers seems to me in the 2 forms of Menyanthes to be very variable.6 but my head is too weak to look much— It is a splendid case of Dimorphism— The short-styled Menyanthes is fertile, I know, with own pollen, like the short-styled Pulmonaria with own pollen7


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, [19 May 1864], and by George Howard, Francis, and Leonard Darwin’s arrival at Down on 21 May 1864 (see n. 5, below).
In his letter of [19 May 1864], William mentioned sending drawings of pollen and anthers, as well as a tin case enclosing both flower forms of the dimorphic Menyanthes trifoliata.
CD’s Menyanthes seeds, acquired from Joseph Dalton Hooker, had failed to germinate (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 [April 1862] and n. 3, note in DAR 110: B52, and Forms of flowers, p. 115).
See letter from W. E. Darwin, [19 May 1864] and n. 8. The photographs arrived later (see, for example, letter to Asa Gray, 28 May [1864]).
CD wrote in Forms of flowers, p. 115, that the short-styled Menyanthes trifoliata appeared to be sterile with its own pollen. However, in this letter, CD may be referring to recently acquired information on the self-pollination of Menyanthes flowers that were submerged and closed (see note in DAR 111: A69 and Forms of flowers, pp. 311–12). The note in DAR 111: A69 on self-pollinated Menyanthes flowers mentions a comment of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood’s on seeing Menyanthes at Maer, Staffordshire; Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood, who lived at Maer until 1847, had recently visited Down (see letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [17 May 1864] and n. 4). For CD’s speculation on the self-fertility of short-styled Pulmonaria angustifolia, see letter to W. E. Darwin, 14 May [1864] and nn. 6 and 7.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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


CD much obliged for specimen and drawings.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin; Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97: A7
Physical description
1p †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3366,” accessed on 19 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12