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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   15 June [1864]1

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

June 15

Dear Oliver

Very many thanks about the Diagram.—2

You told me before of Mohls book & I got it in consequence & very useful it has been to me.— He discusses homologies largely.—3 I fancy he wrote when he was young; anyhow he overlooked much & made many mistakes.— Palm’s Treatise is better.4

I have sent you a Photograph of myself with much pleasure

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. you sent me some time ago a reference about the roots of seeds, Orchid- seeds, drawing themselves into soil like tendrils.5 I have put this reference somewhere & I have looked & looked & cannot find it,— would you send it me again whenever Hooker writes.

C. D.

Please tell Hooker plants all come safe—6

Very many thanks


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Daniel Oliver, 14 June 1864.
See letter to Daniel Oliver, [c. 10 June 1864], and letter from Daniel Oliver, 14 June 1864.
Oliver had given CD the reference to Mohl 1827 in his letters of [1 April 1864] and 14 June 1864. In ‘Climbing plants’, CD cited the work extensively; he credited Hugo von Mohl with many original contributions (see, for example, pp. 1, 5–6, 9, 49), while criticising some of his observations and conclusions (see, for example, pp. 48, 72). CD was particularly concerned to redress botanists’ exclusive attention to homologies. On pp. 110–11 of ‘Climbing plants’, CD wrote: ‘he who believes in the slow modification of species will not be content simply to ascertain the homological nature of different tendrils; he will wish to learn, as far as possible, by what steps parts acting as leaves or as flower-peduncles can have wholly changed their function, and have come to serve as prehensile organs’. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1864] and n. 5.
CD refers to Ueber das Winden der Pflanzen (On the coiling of plants) by Ludwig Heinrich Palm (Palm 1827). An annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 662–3). See letter from Daniel Oliver, [1 April 1864] and n. 5.
Joseph Dalton Hooker had sent CD some climbing plants for observation; see preceding letter.


Beer, Joseph Georg. 1863. Beiträge zur Morphologie und Biologie der Familie der Orchideen. Vienna: Carl Gerold’s Sohn.

‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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.

Mohl, Hugo von. 1827. Ueber den Bau und das Winden der Ranken und Schlingpflanzen. Tübingen: Heinrich Laupp.

Palm, Ludwig Heinrich. 1827. Ueber das Winden der Pflanzen: eine botanisch-physiologische Abhandlung, welche von der medicinischen Facultät der Universität Tübingen im Jahr 1826 als Preisschrift gekrönt wurde. Tübingen: Christian Richter.


L. H. Palm [Über das Winden der Pflanzen (1827)] is better on climbing plants than H. von Mohl [Über den Bau und das Winden der Ranken und Schlingpflanzen (1827)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 49 (EH 88206032)
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4536,” accessed on 8 May 2021,

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