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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   19 October [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct. 19th.

My dear Professor Oliver

I send today by railway, the plants to Kew, & I trust that they may arrive all safe.2 Roridula has interested me extremely, as I believe it shews the primordial state of most of the group. If either you or Hooker know whether it has a confined range at the C. of Good Hope, I shd very much like to hear. I presume that Byblis is confined to Swan River.3

It is remarkable what confined ranges most of the species, excepting those of Drosera, have; though, if the European & Indian Aldrovanda is the same, this also must be excepted. Drosera Heterophylla, besides the odd shape of its leaf, has very curious cells, quite unlike those which I have seen in the rest of the family.4

I have not yet attacked any of the Utric. which you so kindly sent me.5

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

If you cd. spare me a leaf of the Bengal Aldrovanda, I could at once see whether it differs from the German.— A plant to which the leaf is so important I shd. think wd. be more to present differences than in the flower.—6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Daniel Oliver, 14 October 1874.
Oliver sent dried specimens of the insectivorous plants Byblis gigantea and Roridula dentata (see letter from Daniel Oliver, 12 October 1874). These species are discussed in Insectivorous plants, pp. 342–5.
CD refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker, the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and the Swan River, Perth, south-west Australia.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa is the waterwheel plant; Drosera heterophylla is the swamp rainbow, native to Western Australia.
Oliver had sent fragments of several species of Utricularia (bladderwort; see letter from Daniel Oliver, 12 October 1874).
CD discussed differences in the leaves of Aldrovanda vesiculosa var. verticillata from Bengal and Germany in Insectivorous plants, pp. 329–30.


Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Returns insectivorous plants to Kew, with questions about their range. Most species seem to have remarkably confined ranges.

Asks for a Bengal Aldrovanda leaf so that he can see whether it differs from the German species.

Roridula interested him extremely.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University (Albert E. Lownes Manuscript Collection, MS.84.2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9686,” accessed on 16 April 2021,

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