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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Leyson Lewis   [before 6 August 1874]1

I inclose a specimen of the male Hop with apparently female flowers at the tips of the branches, on the chance of its having some interest for the naturalist.2 I observed it this morning, and though accustomed to walk Hop grounds for years I have never seen the two sexes on the same Hop plant before.3 Perhaps, however, it is but the growth of the flower into a male catkin.

There are other male plants in the same ground, but I have not seen any other instance of this peculiarity. The whole Hop hill grows in the same way. If we obtain seed, might not it be possible to select a strain of Hops which are uniformly monœcious on the same plant?4

The Hop ground is in Boughton Monchelsea, facing south, very warm, and of strong rich soil.

L. Lewis, East Farleigh. 5


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to M. T. Masters, 6 August 1874. Maxwell Tylden Masters’s letter is a reply to a letter from CD that has not been found, but that evidently had as an enclosure the original of this letter from Lewis, which is reproduced from the published version.
The common hop (Humulus lupulus) is dioecious (male and female flowers develop on different plants), although monoecious individuals (with male and female flowers on the same plant) appear occasionally.
Lewis was a fruit and hop grower (Post Office directory of the six home counties).
Only the female flowers of Humulus lupulus (hops) are used in making beer.
Boughton Monchelsea is close to East Farleigh in Kent.


Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Encloses specimen of a male hop with female flowers. It is the only peculiarity in the ground.

Letter details

Letter no.
Leyson Lewis
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
East Farleigh
Source of text
Gardeners’ Chronicle, 8 August 1874, p. 174

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9589F,” accessed on 24 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22