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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Erasmus Darwin   [1 May 1864]1

My dear Wm

I have seen about the transfer   very many thanks for all you are doing for me.2 It was the anthers & not the stigma which latter are variable,3 but I am now nearly sure about the anthers & almost about the flowers.

But I am greatly interested in this case. Look at Broomfield about Rhamnus   if you come across any flowers of the 2 sexes I shd much like to see them4

yours affectly | Ch Darwin

I C.D am very well today   I have no doubt that the long sty. have largest flowers at least in kitch gar.5

Frank & Ruck Lenny & another appeared from Clapham about 2.30 yesterday having walked from school, in 2 parties after the manner of boys.6

We stuffed them & croquetted them & sent them home & it did very well.— Alfred is still here & very harmless.7


The date is established by the reference to the visit of the boys from school (see n. 6, below).
The transfer has not been identified.
CD refers to variation in the anthers in different forms of Pulmonaria angustifolia (blue cowslip); in his letter of 3 May [1864] (Correspondence vol. 12), CD sent flowers of long-styled and short-styled P. angustifolia and asked William to outline the size of the anthers of the two forms.
CD refers to Flora Vectensis: being a systematic description of the phænogamous or flowering plants and ferns indigenous to the Isle of Wight (Bromfield 1856). William later found flowers of both sexes of Rhamnus catharticus (now R. cathartica, buckthorn) growing on the Isle of Wight; most of CD’s work with this species was done in 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14). CD also knew of dimorphic American species of Rhamnus (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter from Asa Gray, 11 October 1861). CD evidently saw similarities between Rhamnus and Pulmonaria. In Forms of flowers, p. 287, he suggested that from the number of bad pollen grains in the small anthers of the long-styled form of P. angustifolia, it appeared that the form was tending to become female.
CD refers to plants of Pulmonaria angustifolia. He had received seedlings collected on the Isle of Wight by William in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 July 1863] and nn. 2 and 3); a note dated 6 May 1864 in DAR 110: A51 begins, ‘Pulmonaria I. of Wight in kitchen garden’. In Forms of flowers p. 105, CD noted William’s observation concerning P. angustifolia, that the ‘corolla, though variable in size, was generally larger in the long-styled flowers’.
Francis Darwin, Arthur Ashley Ruck, and Leonard Darwin were pupils at Clapham Grammar School. Ruck was a ‘great friend’ of Francis’s at school (B. Darwin 1955, p. 100). Emma Darwin wrote in her diary (DAR 242) for 30 April 1864, ‘Children from school & Alfred’ (see n. 7, below).
CD refers to Alfred Allen Wedgwood.


Writes of dimorphic plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 122
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5127,” accessed on 8 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)