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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. S. Wilson   14 March 1878

North Kinmundy, | Summerhill, | by Aberdeen.

14 March 1878.

Charles Darwin, Esq. F.R.S. | Down | Beckenham, | Kent.

Dear Sir,

I duly received Rimpau’s two papers and will have them gone into soon.1 As I stated before, the greater proportion of the embryos in my own crop of Ægilops are dead.2 And therefore not to waste precious time, I do myself the pleasure of sending you a small parcel which I have tested and find to be alive. Two boxes of these are enclosed. No. 1 contains the germinated, decorticated, middle-floret seeds, which as you will see have all germinated. No. 2 contains the decorticated outer-flo〈ret〉 seeds of the same spikelets, put 〈    〉 damp cloth to germinate, at the same time as the former. You will observe that only two of these have germinated, and these two are from spikelets in which the middle floret having been barren, the outer embryos and kernels had room to live and grow. All the others are squeezed to death; it is really a case of vegetatile infanticide. The Ægilops kills two-thirds of its offspring. They cannot be scattered out of the glumes and spread abroad, and therefore they are useless to the reproduction of the plant: the one middle seed being sufficient. If the other two were to grow in the same spot to which by the rigidity of the glumes all are confined, the reproduction would be less than with 〈a〉 single good plant. All this how〈ever〉 I have to reconsider more 〈at〉 leisure.

By the by I have a good station on North Kinmundy for both Drosera rotundifolia and D. anglica, and if you should happen at any time to wish to make any further expts. or observations, it will be a great pleasure to me to send you a box of living plants, if you have no station near you.3

Apologising for occupying so much of your time, | I am | yours very sincerely | A. Stephen Wilson.


Wilhelm Rimpau and Rimpau 1877a and 1877b. See letter to A. S. Wilson, 23 February 1878 and nn. 6 and 7.
CD had requested grains of Aegilops ovata (a synonym of A. geniculata, ovate goatgrass; see letter to A. S. Wilson, 23 February 1878 and nn. 2 and 3, and letter from A. S. Wilson, 28 February 1878).
CD had experimented with Drosera rotundifolia (common or round-leaved sundew) and D. anglica (great sundew); see Insectivorous plants.


On germination of wheat.

Can supply Drosera if CD wants some.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alexander Stephen Wilson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Summerhill, Aberdeen
Source of text
DAR 181: 113
Physical description
3pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11423,” accessed on 20 September 2021,