skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   [20–4 August 1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R. [Abinger Hall, Surrey.]

My dear Dyer

There is no end to my requests. Can you spare me a good plant (or even two) of Oxalis sensitiva. The one which I have (formerly from Kew) has been so maltreated that I dare not trust my results any longer.2

Please give the enclosed to Mr. Lynch.— The spontaneous movements of the Averrhoa are very curious.—3

You sent me seeds of Trifolium resupinatum, & I have raised plants & some former observations which I did not dare to trust, have proved accurate.4 It is a very little fact, but curious. The half of the lateral leaflets (marked by a cross) on the lower side


have no bloom & are wetted, whereas the other half has bloom & is not wetted, so that the two sides look different to the naked eye. The cells of the epidermis appear of a different shape & size on the 2 sides of the leaf.

When we have drawings & measurements of cells made, & are sure of our facts I shall ask you whether you know of any case of the same leaf differing histologically on the two sides, for Hooker always says you are a wonderful man for knowing what has been made out.—

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

We are staying at Abinger Hall, but return home on Saturday.5


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 25 August 1877, and by the dates of CD’s visit to Abinger (see n. 5, below).
Seedlings of Oxalis sensitiva (a synonym of Biophytum sensitivum) were sent to CD on 16 August 1873 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Outwards book).
Richard Irwin Lynch had sent CD observations on the spontaneous movements of Averrhoa bilimbi as well as several specimens of plants with bloom, the epicuticular waxy coating of some leaves and fruits (see letter from R. I. Lynch, 25 July 1877, and first and second letters from R. I. Lynch, [before 28 July 1877]).
Trifolium resupinatum is Persian clover. CD’s observations on bloom on the leaves of plants raised from the seeds sent from Kew, made on 10 June [1877], are in DAR 68: 47.
CD visited Abinger Hall, the home of Thomas Henry Farrer, from 20 to 25 August 1877 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Discusses plants sent for experiments and "bloom" on leaves of Trifolium.

Sends enclosure for R. I. Lynch.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11086,” accessed on 27 October 2021,