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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [before 6 May 1858]1

I took wife to Brighton on Saturday for a week; she is not very strong but not ill.

Andersson finds that every European Willow (47) save one (S. nigricans) is also American—2 I hope you find woody plants less widely distributed than herbaceous & unisexual than hermaphrodite!!!

I call that a rasper—3 He knows the Willows thoroughly & has monographed all the species most carefully & ably after studying all the Europæan Herbaria.

Ever Yrs my dear CD | J D Hooker

I heard from Livingstone all well but Mrs L. who has the 9 months fever (re-mittent) & will have to be left at Cape.—4 Lt. Glover (of Baikies Exped)5 has recovered an old Logarithm book with Mungo Parks writing in it. 6

CD annotations

1.1 I took … not ill.] crossed pencil
crossed pencil
Bottom of first page: ‘20’7 brown crayon


Dated by the relationship to the following letter.
The Swedish botanist Nils Johan Andersson had worked at Kew in 1857 (Correspondence vol. 6, letters to J. D. Hooker, 22 August [1857] and 11 September [1857]). His paper on North American willows was read at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston on 13 April 1858 (Andersson 1858).
Rasper: ‘A person or thing of sharp, harsh, or unpleasant character; also anything remarkable or extraordinary in its own way’ (OED). Hooker apparently felt that CD would find it difficult to explain how dioecious trees, like willows, with the sexes separated, could be as widely distributed as Andersson’s results suggested.
David Livingstone and his wife Mary had set out on an expedition to explore the river Zambesi on10 March 1858. Mary Livingstone, who was pregnant, and their young son remained with her father in Cape Town until Livingstone returned in 1862 (DNB). Hooker had described Livingstone’s plant collection in Livingstone 1857.
John Hawley Glover had accompanied William Balfour Baikie’s second expedition to the river Niger in 1857. After their ship was wrecked, most of the expeditionary force returned to England (see letter from W. B. Baikie, 11 February 1858, n. 1). Glover apparently remained with Baikie until 1861 (DNB).
Mungo Park, the African explorer, had disappeared in 1805 during an expedition to discover the course of the river Niger; very few of his personal effects were recovered. Glover’s purchase of the book mentioned in the letter caused a stir in England (see Hastings ed. 1926, pp. 188–90). It is now in the Royal Geographical Society. Hooker reported the find at a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society on 20 April 1858 (Bonney 1919, p. 139).
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of plants.


Andersson, Nils Johan. 1858. Salices Boreali-Americanæ: a synopsis of North American willows. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 4 (1860): 50–78.

Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Livingstone, David. 1857. Missionary travels and researches in South Africa; including a sketch of sixteen years’ residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast; thence across the Continent, down the river Zambesi, to the Eastern Ocean. London: John Murray.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Reports that N. J. Andersson finds every European willow bar one is also American.

Has heard from David Livingstone and reports on his progress.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 155
Physical description
2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2277,” accessed on 20 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7