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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   29 November 1864

Royal Gardens Kew

Nov 29/64.

Dear Darwin

I am very glad you are not coming up, not only because it would be very bad for you, but because it saves my going into Town tomorrow!1

I shall be curious to read Sabine’s address.2

The only temperate climber I can think of which I believe climbs round trunks over 6 inches diam is the Wistaria Chinensis—but I must make specific enquiry—3 I am satisfied that I have seen Apocyneæ in India twining—pure et simple—round trees more than 1 foot, diam. & I think to have seen in Paris Museum4 cut trunks of trees 18 in & more, with Malpighiaceæ stems round them.

We have columns of 6 in. in our houses & have climbers on some, but these have been helped,—whether necessarily or no I will not say.

I shall certainly try & find what old fogies are shocked at your having the Medal.5 Entre nous, Dr Watson & Dr Alderson in council, knew nothing at all about you!6 but good naturedly enough voted for you on being asked, to please their friends I suppose!!! What a piece of moonshine the whole council is to be sure.

Thanks for your offer of loan in the matter of Bootts book,7 but my good uncle (banker lender lawyer & Investor he is to me) lets me overdraw my account at the bank as much as I please.8 I shall not have to give much time to the book

Thomson says certainly Butea parviflora, a large Menispermaceae & others climb large trees as pure twiners in Calcutta Gardens9   I can remember Dalbergias & other Leguminous genera also climbing large trees.

I think a large Ruscus in our Temp. house is climbing the column sua sponte, but I will look.10

I shall correspond for Droseras11

Ev yr affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 I am … enquiry— 3.2] crossed pencil
4.1 We have … book 6.3] crossed pencil
8.1 I think … Droseras 9.1] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Keep’ pencil, circled pencil; ‘Sabine’ pencil; ‘Sabine’ pencil, del pencil


Edward Sabine, president of the Royal Society of London, wrote the anniversary address delivered at the 30 November 1864 meeting of the Society (see Sabine 1864). See also letter from E. A. Darwin, [before 30 November 1864] and n. 4.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1864] and n. 16. CD cited Hooker’s observations of Wistaria (also called Wisteria) in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 21–2. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864, and n. 10.
Hooker refers to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Hooker may have seen the trees when he visited Charles Victor Naudin, who was an aide-naturaliste at the Muséum, in January 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1863).
Hooker refers to the physicians Thomas Watson (aged 72) and James Alderson (aged 70).
Hooker’s uncle, Dawson William Turner, was a well-known philanthropist (DNB).
Hooker refers to Thomas Thomson, who had been superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden between 1854 and 1860 or 1861 (DNB, R. Desmond 1994). CD cited Thomson and Hooker on Butea parviflora and other tropical climbers in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 22.
Sua sponte: ‘of its own accord’. CD cited Hooker on Ruscus androgynus in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 21. CD’s notes on Ruscus androgynus are in DAR 157.1: 21. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864.


Boott, Francis. 1858–67. Illustrations of the genus Carex. 4 pts. London: William Pamplin (pts 1, 2, and 3), L. Reeve & Co. (pt 4).

‘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.

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

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Sabine, Edward. 1864. [Anniversary address, 30 November 1864.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13 (1863–4): 497–517.


JDH is making inquiries for CD on temperate climbing plants.

Discusses politics of Royal Society Council in awarding CD the Copley Medal.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 258–9
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4684,” accessed on 16 April 2021,

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