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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin to Friedrich Hildebrand   20 November [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov 20


My husband wishes me to write & thank you for your very kind letter & to say that he is so unwell as to be unable to write or attend to any scientific subject.2 He desires also to send his respectful remembrances to Professor Treviranus & to thank him for the paper on Orchids he so kindly sent & to say how much he wd have liked to have written to him on the subject but he is not able.3

Mr Darwin wishes to ask if Orchis Pyramydalis grows in your neighbourhood he wd very much like to see a fresh specimen of it next summer as he is convinced the structure of the stigma is different from what it is here4

With Mr Darwin’s kind regards I am | Sir yours very truly | Emma Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 10 November 1863.
The references are to Ludolph Christian Treviranus and to Treviranus 1863c, which was published in the 7 August 1863 number of Botanische Zeitung. There is a lightly annotated copy of Treviranus 1863c in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, and a manuscript translation in DAR 70: 38–52. The most recent extant correspondence between CD and Treviranus is the letter from L. C. Treviranus, 12 February 1863, in which he mentioned sending Treviranus 1863a. See also letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 16 July 1863.
In Treviranus 1863c, p. 243, Treviranus discussed what he thought were two errors in CD’s diagram of Orchis pyramidalis (Orchids, p. 22). CD wrote in ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 141 (Collected Papers, 2: 139), that Treviranus confirmed his ‘observations on this remarkable species’, but differed from him in ‘one or two minor points’. See also Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 21 June 1864, and letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 25 June [1864].


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

‘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.]

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.


ED writes on behalf of her husband, who is ill, to thank FH for his letter

and to thank [L. C.] Treviranus for his paper on orchids.

CD wishes to know whether Orchis pyramidalis grows in FH’s neighbourhood. He needs a fresh specimen to compare the stigma with those grown locally.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4343F,” accessed on 26 November 2020,

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