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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   18 July [1877]1

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

July 18th

Dear Dyer

I thank you heartily for all the treasures just arrived, & even more heartily for the kind manner with which you take great trouble for me.2 The plants have all arrived in very fair condition; but the ends of 2 leaves of the precious Cotyledon pulverulenta (with its wonderful bloom) were broken off:3 however I can experimentise on their basal parts & thus, I hope, injure no other leaves. The Nelumbium4 is a most beautiful leaf, & one is perfect, the other has withered since arrival, though I have put the pot in tub, & kept it out of the sun. Averrhoa5 looked piteous, but has now revived wonderfully by aid of shade & a watering. I am so glad of the Logwood-tree6 & of all.—

Seeds of Lotus very interesting to me; for if I fail in all other respects, I think I shall be able to describe a few odd facts about the sleep of Plants.7 By the way I observed last night to my surprise that Tropæolum minus sleeps.—8 I think Frank will do some good work on bloom & evaporation, & this is to be his share.9 It delights me to see that he is becoming a better & more careful observer than I am.— Once again hearty thanks

Ever yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I must just add that Frank has been feeding Drosera & we can now see a decided difference throughout the whole larger series between the fed with atoms of cooked meat & unfed plants.— This delights me as throughout Europe Botanists have been saying digestive power & absorption all useless—& the effects pathological.10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 July 1877.
See letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 July 1877. Thiselton-Dyer had sent plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Cotyledon pulverulenta is a synonym of Dudleya pulverulenta. CD was interested in the bloom on the leaves of certain plants (see letter to Fritz Müller, 14 May 1877 and n. 2).
Now spelled Nelumbo (see letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 July 1877 and n. 7).
Averrhoa bilimbi (see letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 July 1877 and n. 5.
Haematoxylon campechianum (see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 14 July [1877] and n. 5).
CD discussed the genus Lotus extensively in Movement in plants.
CD discussed Tropaeolum minus (dwarf nasturtium) in Movement in plants, p. 27.
Francis Darwin’s work on bloom was published in F. Darwin 1886.
In his paper in the Journal of the Linnean Society on the results of his experiments on feeding Drosera rotundifolia (common or round-leaved sundew), Francis gave a detailed list of persons who were sceptical of CD’s theory in Insectivorous plants: they included Édouard Morren, Casimir de Candolle, Heinrich Robert Göppert, Charles Victor Naudin, and Filippo Parlatore (F. Darwin 1878a). See also letter to G. J. Romanes, 9 August [1877] and n. 8.


Darwin, Francis. 1886. On the relation between the ‘bloom’ on leaves and the distribution of the stomata. [Read 4 February 1886.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 22 (1885–6): 99–116.

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

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Thanks him for various plants sent for experiments.

Frank [Darwin] has been feeding Drosera meat to study differences between fed and unfed plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Darwin: Letters to Thiselton-Dyer, 1873–81: ff. 72–3)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11059,” accessed on 24 September 2021,