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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [18 October 1862]1

Royal Gardens Kew


Dr Darwin

Do not send back the Melastomads2

Masdevallia is beautifully in flower, do you want it? flower? or whole plant?3

I put flowers of curious Loasaceous plant in the box with Impatiens— I saw bees hard at work on it; but not on Impatiens. I also put a Cassia flower in.4

R. Spruce Esqe. at Quito (or elsewhere) care of HRM Consul Guayaquil—would send you by post Melastomaceæ seeds, or Messrs Herbst & Co nurserymen Rio de Janeiro.5

Ever Yours affec | J D Hooker

I have ordered Bonafuss on Maize.6


The date is established by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 [October 1862], and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 25 October 1862; the intervening Saturday was 18 October 1862.
In Orchids, p. 168, CD described the peculiar closed structure of the flowers in Masdevallia fenestrata, with their ‘two minute, lateral, oval windows’; he stated that he had ‘failed to understand’ how insects could remove or insert pollinia in order to effect pollination in this species. In his letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 February [1862], CD had asked to borrow a plant of the species when next in flower (see also the letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 [June 1862], and letters from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1862 and 2 July 1862).
In the letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 [October 1862], CD asked Hooker for the names of people to whom he could apply for seeds of Heterocentron or Monochaetum in their native South America. The reference is to Richard Spruce. The nursery of Messrs Herbst & Co. was probably established by Hermann Carl Gottlieb Herbst. Although CD wrote to Spruce to ask him for information concerning the Melastomataceae (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 2 January 1864 (Calendar no. 4378), and letter from Richard Spruce, 15 April 1869 (Calendar no. 6697)), his letter has not been found.
Bonafous 1836. CD was preparing the section of Variation dealing with ‘Facts of variation of Plants’ (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)); he cited Bonafous 1836 in his account of varieties of maize (Variation 1: 320).


Bonafous, Matthieu. 1836. Histoire naturelle, agricole et économique du maïs. Paris and Turin.

Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Does CD want Masdevallia?

Sends addresses of persons in S. America who would send Melastomataceae seeds.

Has ordered Matthieu Bonafous on maize [Histoire naturelle du maïs (1836)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 63
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3774,” accessed on 15 April 2021,

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