skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lindley   28 December [1861]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec. 28th

My dear Lindley—

Very many thanks for information about the Acropera luteola, to which name I will attach a note.2

Also many thanks for the Gongora fulva— what a strange monstrous flower! It is, I am sorry to say, quite masculine in its nature & cannot be female of the A. Luteola. The pollen-masses &c are widely different from in Monacanthus viridis the female of Catasetum tridentatum. Of course, one can tell nothing safely from dry specimens, but I cannot help the suspicion that Gongora is also a male.3

I have been looking again very carefully at the placentæ of Acropera & I can see no escape from ranking that plant as a male.4

Yours very truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The year is provided by the relationship to a series of other letters discussing the orchids mentioned in the letter (see nn. 2–4, below).
Lindley had suggested that Gongora might be the female of the orchid Acropera luteola (see letter to John Lindley, 24 December [1861]).
For the basis upon which CD judged Acropera to be a male flower, see the letter to Daniel Oliver, 30 November [1861] and Orchids, pp. 206–9.


Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Thanks JL for information about Acropera luteola.

Also thanks for the Gongora; cannot avoid the impression it is male.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lindley
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Lindley letters, A–K: 200)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3353,” accessed on 14 August 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9