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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Anderson   18 June 1863

Meadowbank | Uddingstone N.B


Dear Sir

Enclosed is one of the seed capsules of the Dendrobium cretacæum of which I wrote in the Journal for your inspection1   It has taken fully a twelvemonths to mature. You may depend upon this act of fertilization being carried on within the floral envelope; and I should like to know the results of your investigation & opinion2

I remain | Dear Sir | very truly yours | Jas. Anderson

C. Darwin Esq

CD note:3

Those seed produced by closed flowers were extraordinarily good; by searching I found a few empty testæ, & the nuclei of *a few [after del ‘some’] appeared rather transparent. Closed flowers clearly admits, or rather favours, in this species, very perfect fertilisation; like imperfect flowers of viola &c. &c.—


See letter from James Anderson, 1 April 1863 and n. 1. The reference is to a notice by Anderson in the Journal of Horticulture, 17 March 1863, pp. 206–8.
No reply from CD has been found.
The note is written on the verso of Anderson’s letter. In ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 152 (Collected papers 2: 149), CD wrote: Mr. Anderson, a skilful cultivator of orchids in Scotland, informs me … that with him the flowers of Dendrobium cretaceum never expand, and yet produce capsules with plenty of seed, which, when examined by me, was found to be perfectly good. These orchids make a near approach to those dimorphic plants (as Oxalis, Ononis, and Viola) which habitually produce open and perfect, as well as closed and imperfect flowers.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]


Sends a capsule of Dendrobium cretaceum. [See Orchids, 2d ed.]

Letter details

Letter no.
James Anderson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 70: 181
Physical description
1p ††

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4215,” accessed on 6 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11