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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   9 May 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

May. 9th. 77

My dear Sir

I have been particularly glad to receive your letter of March 25th. on Pontederia, for I am now printing a small book on Heterostyled plants & on some allied subjects.1 I feel sure that you will not object to my giving a short account of the flowers of the new species which you have sent me. I am the more anxious to do so, as a writer in the U. States has described a species & seems to doubt whether it is Heterostyled; for he thinks the difference in the length of the pistil depends merely on its growth!—2 In my new book I shall use all the information & specimens which you have sent me with respect to other heterostyled plants, & your published notices.3

One chapter will be devoted to Cleistogamic species, & I will just notice your new grass case.—4 My son Francis desires me to thank you much for your kindness with respect to the plants which bury their seeds.5

I never fail to feel astonished when I receive one of your letters at the number of new facts you are continually observing.— With respect to the great supposed subterranean animal, may not the belief have arisen from the natives having seen large skeletons embedded in cliffs? I remember finding on the banks of the Parana a skeleton of a Mastodon, & the Gauchos concluded that it was a burrowing animal like the Bizcacha.6

With all good wishes & thanks, | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


See letter from Fritz Müller, 25 March 1877. In Forms of flowers, pp. 183–7, CD described some species of Pontederia as heterostyled trimorphic based on observations of three unnamed species sent by Müller.
The American writer was William Henry Leggett (see letter from W. H. Leggett, 15 January 1877 and n. 1, and letter to W. H. Leggett, 22 January 1877 and n. 3).
CD referred extensively to Müller’s specimens and published notes in Forms of flowers, which was published on 9 July 1877 (Freeman 1977).
Müller described the grass with cleistogamic flowers in his letter of 25 March 1877; CD noted it in Forms of flowers, p. 333.
Francis Darwin; see letter from Fritz Müller, 25 March 1877 and n. 5.
Müller had reported accounts of a huge earthworm in southern Brazilian provinces (see letter from Fritz Müller, 25 March 1877 and n. 7). In Narrative 3: 147, CD had described his discovery of Mastodon bones in the cliffs above the Rio Paraná near Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, Argentina, in October 1833. Bizcacha (now known as viscacha (chinchillas)) are burrowing rodents of the genera Lagidium and Lagostomus.


Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Is printing a book on dimorphic plants [Forms of flowers] in which he will make considerable use of FM’s work.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 41)
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10954,” accessed on 21 October 2021,