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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Mueller   8 December [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

December 8th

Dear Sir

Sir William & Dr. Hooker have told me that I might use their names as an introduction to you.2 I do not know whether my name is known to you; but I have so often heard of interesting Botanical facts of your discovery, from Dr. Hooker, that I feel as if I had been introduced to you. I am very anxious for a piece of information which possibly you may be able to give me. It is whether very many British or north-European, perennial plants can withstand, living & seeding, under the climate of S. Australia.—3 I presuppose that the plants are kept in a well-weeded garden, free from the intrusion of the native vegetation. They might be supposed to be watered in very dry weather; my point being whether they could withstand the heat, & perfect their seeds. I presume all S. European plants could succeed well; but I want to know whether the greater number of British or still more north-ranging plants could survive & seed.— If you could answer me this question even approximately, & would take the trouble to write to me, I shd. be very much obliged.— I believe there a good many British naturalised plants in S. Australia; (Have you ever enumerated them?) & this of course answers my question most fully as far as they are concerned, even under conditions not the most favourable, as they have to struggle with the native vegetation.—

With apologies for troubling you, & with much respect, I beg leave to remain, Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 December 1857].
Mueller was the director of the botanic gardens in Melbourne, Australia.
CD evidently received a reply from Mueller, for he cited him on a different point in Natural selection, p. 553. CD later asked Charles Moore the same question about the ability of European plants to set seed in Australia (Correspondence vol. 7, letter from Charles Moore, 11 August 1858). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 December [1857].


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

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Asks whether British or north European perennial plants can, under cultivation, withstand the climate of S. Australia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich (Ferdinand) von Mueller
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 92: A31–2
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2378,” accessed on 26 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6