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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   20 October [1865]1

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

Oct 20

Dear Oliver

I have recd a letter from an excellent Zoologist, Fritz Müller in Brazil, on climbing plants, & it appears to me to be worth sending to the Linn. Soc.—2 As he is not a professed botanist, I had asked Hooker to read it over,3 but as on his return he will be so busy I shd be very much obliged if you will do me this kindness. As it will not take you more than ten minutes, I will assume that you will do so, & send a copy by this post. All that I want, is for you to see that there is no glaring error. It seems to me, in my ignorance, that he uses the word “Bracteæ” wrongly; if so will you correct it.4

Also I cannot understand his description of the leaves of Strychnos (a specimen is enclosed): if you do not understand I cd alter the sentence in some such way as follows. “The first, 3rd & 5th pair of leaves are placed differently from the 2nd, 4th &c & the former alone bear on one side tendrils in their axes”.5 You need not waste your time in answering, for I know you are very busy, but return me the M.S. with corrections in pencil which can be rubbed out.

Dear Oliver | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. If Hooker is in the Herbarium tell him I shall write in a few days & that I refrain from doing so now out of virtue, as he must be overwhelmed with business.6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Daniel Oliver, 23 October 1865.
CD probably refers to the letter from Fritz Müller of 31 August 1865. The botanical observations contained in the letter, along with extracts from two other letters from Müller, were sent by CD to the Linnean Society (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 October [1865] and n. 2).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 October [1865]. Owing to illness, Joseph Dalton Hooker had been away from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, since 2 September 1865 (see letters from F. H. Hooker, [17 August 1865] and 6 September [1865]).
In the published version of Müller’s letter, the passage on Strychnos reads (letter from Fritz Müller, [12 and 31 August and 10 October 1865]; Müller 1865b, p. 344): On the branches, the leaves of the first, third, fifth, &c. pairs are horizontal, those of the second, fourth, and sixth pairs are vertical in relation to the main axis; and it is from the angles of every under leaf of these latter pairs that the tendrils spring.
Oliver wrote in his letter to CD of 23 October 1865 that he had that morning heard that Hooker was returning on 26 October 1865.


Sends Fritz Müller’s paper ["Notes on some of the climbing plants near Desterro, in S. Brazil", J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 9 (1867): 344–9] to be refereed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 63 (EH 88206046)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4920,” accessed on 24 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13