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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. C. Babington   6 June 1864


6 June 1864

Dear Darwin

I have no means of getting the Stellaria graminea which is rare in this county.1 The plants producing different kinds of flowers grew at Sandgate, Kent. The words in my Manual (p. 54) are “Shorter or longer petals accompany an imperfection of the stamens or germen”;2 but the question has to be reexamined. Does not S. graminea grow in your neighbourhood?3

Yours very truly | Charles C. Babington—


No letter from CD to Babington requesting specimens of Stellaria graminea has been found.
In his letter of 17 January 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10), Babington had referred CD to the description of two forms of Stellaria graminea in his Manual of British botany (C. C. Babington 1851, p. 51). An annotated copy of C. C. Babington 1851 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 27–8). Babington refers here to the fifth edition of his work (C. C. Babington 1862), in which the description appears on pp. 54–5. In Forms of flowers, p. 313 n., CD cited this sentence from C. C. Babington 1851 to help explain why he had omitted Stellaria graminea from his discussion of cleistogamic flowers. CD misquoted, giving ‘shorter and longer petals’ for ‘shorter or longer petals’. See also CD’s notes in DAR 111: A51.
In his letter to Babington of 20 January [1862] (Correspondence vol. 10), CD wrote: ‘I think Stellaria graminea grows here (but I know our British plant very imperfectly) & I must look sharp after it & get its seeds.’


Babington, Charles Cardale. 1851. Manual of British botany, containing the flowering plants and ferns arranged according to the natural orders. 3d edition. London: John van Voorst.

Babington, Charles Cardale. 1862. Manual of British botany, containing the flowering plants and ferns arranged according to the natural orders. 5th edition. London: John van Voorst.

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.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.


Cannot get any Stellaria graminea for CD. It is rare. Some, producing different kinds of flowers, once grew in Sandgate, Kent. Variations in flowers need to be re-examined.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Cardale Babington
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4521,” accessed on 28 November 2020,

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