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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   9 [April 1862]1



My dear Hooker

One line to say that I shall very much like to examine Vanilla (give specific name if you can), but it will be too late for my Book.2 I am told that Vanilla flowers drop in 3 or 4 hours, which is a queer thing for an orchid.— The menyanthes which you sent me is going to flower in my greenhouse soon!3 If you can remember, when your plants bloom, just look whether you have both the long- & short-styled form.— Also look some day whether you have any Saxifrages with long hairs glandular at the tip.—4

I by no means thought that I produced a “tremendous effect” on Linn. Soc;5 but by Jove the Linn. Soc. produced a tremendous effect on me for I vomited all night & could not get out of bed till late next evening, so that I just crawled home.— I fear I must give up trying to read any paper or speak. It is a horrid bore I can do nothing like other people.—

My dear old friend | Ever yours | C. D.


The date is established by the references to the publication of Orchids and to CD’s paper on Catasetum (see nn. 2 and 5, below).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [7 April 1862]. Orchids was about to be printed (see letter to John Murray, 9 April [1862]). CD recorded finishing work on the volume on 28 April (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
CD had recently learned that Menyanthes was dimorphic, and had sought specimens from a number of correspondents (see letter to C. C. Babington, 20 January [1862], and letter from C. W. Crocker, 13 March 1862); he probably included the genus on the list of specimens required for experiment enclosed with the letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 February [1862]. In DAR 110 (ser. 2): 52 there is a note dated ‘1862’ that states: ‘Menyanthes from Kew.— Short-styled ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ set its own pods in plenty.— but none germinated’. This observation is also recorded in Forms of flowers, p. 115.
CD had observed that minute flies often became caught in the hairs of Saxifraga umbrosa, and while he believed that this species derived no nutriment from the flies, he wished to know ‘whether some of the more hairy Saxifrages may not profit by caught flies’ (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 May [1861]). Hooker sent CD specimens of the genus in March 1862, with the promise that he would send others if they were not suitable (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 March 1862).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum’: On the three remarkable sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, an orchid in the possession of the Linnean Society. By Charles Darwin. [Read 3 April 1862.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. [Collected papers 2: 63–70.]


On Vanilla.

Asks JDH to observe whether he has both long- and short-styled form of Menyanthes

and whether he has "Saxifrages with long hairs glandular at the tip".

The Linnean Society session made him vomit all night. Fears he must give up trying to read papers or speak. "It is a horrid bore. I can do nothing like other people."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 148
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3500,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10