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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Lindley   [before 2 September 1843]

Dear Sir

I am infinitely obliged to you for your interesting communications1 which I wd have acknowledged sooner had I been able. The Gentians are new to me, and I think form a valuable addition to the little we know about double flowers.

The Cabbage leaf is not very uncommon.

Thanks too for the Viola—

You will be interested in knowing that a very curious monster found this year near Ely shows the ovule—its nucleus I mean—to be another of the forms of the growing point—quite a new, & to me at least unexpected, fact, which was much wanted to complete the theory of morphological structure.2 The evidence is perfect.

Your Scotch seeds3 proved Rumex Acetosella & this Atriplex—What species I do not know— At present I cannot find it in books. I have sent it to Henslow and shall show it to others— It cannot be any var of A. patula I think.

Very truly yours | John Lindley


See letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [late August 1843].
Refers to the theory of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that all the parts of a plant are metamorphosed leaves. CD accepted the theory as demonstrating the unity of type one would expect under an evolutionary point of view. See Foundations, pp. 38–41, 214–18. The doctrine was considered atheistical by those who maintained that each species was created perfect and immutable.


Much interested in CD’s communication [about W. Kemp] and seeds sent; does not know the species; has sent seeds to Henslow.

Describes a monstrous plant found near Ely.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Lindley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 50: A21–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 690,” accessed on 21 February 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2