skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   29 [March–June 1863 or 1864?]1


My dear William.

I never saw such an organ as that which you draw;2 I shd. very much like to see a specimen.— Does the cup secrete any viscid matter? Please send the spec. in tin cannister or box with a little damp blotting paper. Botanists call all out of the way organs “glands” & no doubt they would call this a gland.—

Your affect | C. Darwin

I do not want Oxalis.3

Are little insects ever caught in the cup??


The date range is conjectured by the reference to Oxalis (see n. 3, below).
Neither the sketch, nor the letter with which it was enclosed, have been found. The organ has not been identified.
CD made a series of observations on Oxalis, beginning in April 1862 and ending in 1869; his experimental notes on this genus are in DAR 109: B3–27, B101, B108, and DAR 111: A44–48, B33–5, B43. CD’s experiments on species of Oxalis native to Britain focused chiefly on O. acetosella, and were concentrated in the spring and summer of 1863 and 1864 (DAR 109: B3–7 and DAR 111: A44, A46–8). CD’s interest in the occurrence of dimorphism in species of Oxalis began in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to George Bentham, 24 November [1861] and 30 November [1861]). He pursued investigations on heterostyly (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letters to Daniel Oliver, 20 [April 1862], 24 April [1862], and this volume, letter to Roland Trimen, 23 May [1863]), and on cleistogamy (see, for example, letter to Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, [17–24 March 1863] and n. 7, and letter to Asa Gray, 31 May [1863]). CD published the results of his observations in Forms of flowers, pp. 169–183, 321–4.


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

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.


Would like WED to send a specimen of the unusual plant organ of which he sent a drawing.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 94
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3367,” accessed on 29 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11