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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. W. Rimpau   10 December 1877

A. W. Rimpau, | Schlanstedt, | Prov. Sachsen | Prussia.

| Schlandstedt,

Decbr. 10. 1877.

Dear Sir,

I take the liberty, to send you the enclosed notice on my observations respecting the self-sterility of Secale cereale, conjectured already in my essay “die Züchtung neuer Getreide-Varietäten”, which I sent you last January.1

My supposition with regard to the perfect self-sterility of Beta vulgaris has not been corroborated. A single plant, cultivated in a flower-pot within a room produced a few seeds; the plants, cultivated together in another room, which were repeatedly dusted over one another, also produced only a few seeds. The fertility, therefore, seems to be injured by the cultivation within a room.2

Very interesting forms I got from my cross-bred wheat in the second generation. The first produce of the cross of two different varieties was allways uniform, sometimes intermediate, sometimes very similar to one of the parents. In the second generation, on the contrary, I got a great many intermediate forms, plants quite similar to the parent forms and some ears not intermediate, but quite different from both parent-forms. For instance I got from a cross of the bearded Rivett-wheat3 (♀) with kidney-coloured chaff, and a german brown-chaffed not bearded variety (♂) in the second generation some perfectly white-chaffed bearded and not bearded ears.

I am, Sir | Yours most respectfully | W. Rimpau.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘p. 228 or 229 | p 367’ pencil


CD’s copy of ‘Die Züchtung neuer Getreide-Varietäten’ (Cultivation of new grain varieties; Rimpau 1877a) and his annotated copy of ‘Die selbst-sterilität des Roggens’ (The self-sterility of rye; Rimpau 1877b) are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL (see letter to Wilhelm Rimpau, 16 January 1877 and n. 1). Secale cereale is rye. Rimpau demonstrated the predominance of self-sterile individuals in the populations of Secale cereale that he studied. In Cross and self fertilisation 2d ed., p. 370 n., CD added a reference to Rimpau’s observations on both rye and wheat from Rimpau 1877a and 1877b, but misspelled his name as ‘Rimpan’.
See letter to Wilhelm Rimpau, 16 January 1877 and n. 2. Beta vulgaris is beet.
Rivet wheat is Triticum turgidum.


Cross and self fertilisation 2d ed.: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1878.


Sends his paper ["Die selbst-sterilität des Roggens", Landwirtsch. Jahrb. 6 (1877): 1073–6] on self-sterility in Secale cereale. AWR was wrong in claiming Beta vulgaris was perfectly self-sterile.

Reports results of crossing wheat varieties. In the first generation offspring are always uniform; some are intermediate, some resemble one parent. In the second generation, on the contrary, he got a diversity of parental and intermediate forms.

Letter details

Letter no.
Arnold Dietrich Wilhelm (Wilhelm) Rimpau
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 159
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11273,” accessed on 28 September 2021,