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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Chichester Oxenden   15 May 1862

Dear Sir

Mr. Malden 1 & myself were on the Hill-Side, for some hours—last Tuesday, with splendid sport— —Even of O. Aranifera we did not find far short of a thousand, in full flower

I am sure you would like Mr. Malden greatly— A thousand thanks for the beautiful, useful, charming Book—2 I am delighted with it—

—Can I do aught for you, in revenge—?

—This means to be a famous year for Wild Orchids—

—Never before have I seen—“fusca” so beautiful or so very abundant—

There will also be good Harvest of “Epipactis palustris”—3

—Even in March last, when Snipe-shooting, I found fully 200, well up above the ground; about 4 inches high—

—Of “Ep: purpurata” I observe you take no notice—

—Is it because it is over-abundant with you?

—The Earliest of my “Lizards” will bloom in about 3 weeks—

—Shall I cut some blooms off & send them to you—? or have you them, at command, in your own Neighbourhood?4

—With many kind thanks & regards | G: Chichester Oxenden


May 15 | 1862—


Bingham Sibthorpe Malden.
Oxenden and Malden were both included on CD’s presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV). Both men had supplied CD with orchid specimens; their assistance is acknowledged in Orchids, pp. 31 n., 43, and 78. In DAR 70: 10–11 there are notes dated 24 May 1862, recording observations on specimens of Orchis ustulata sent to CD by Malden.
In the summer of 1861, CD had sent Oxenden a memorandum of inquiry concerning Epipactis palustris, requesting him to observe the behaviour of the insects visiting the flowers, and the resulting movements of the parts of the flowers (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to A. G. More, 4 June 1861). In his discussion of the species in Orchids, pp. 94–102, CD mentioned outstanding problems in understanding the ‘peculiar nature of the labellum’ because of a shortage of specimens for observation at the end of the previous flowering season. CD was keen to continue these observations, and, earlier in the year, had made inquiries of Charles William Crocker regarding the location of specimens of this plant (see letter from C. W. Crocker, 13 March 1862 and n. 2). See also letter to A. G. More, 18 May 1862, and letter from G. C. Oxenden, 4 June [1862].
CD had hoped to examine a specimen of the rare lizard orchid, Orchis hircina, before finishing Orchids. In the letter to B. S. Malden, 15–16 June [1861] (Correspondence vol. 9), CD wrote: ‘Now I have seen & carefully every British orchid, … except the Lizard, which I still hope either from your or Mr Oxenden’s kindness to see.’ However, the plant is not mentioned in Orchids. Oxenden did subsequently send CD a specimen, a description of which CD included in the second edition (Orchids 2d ed., pp. 25–6 and n.).


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

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

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 for the book [Orchids].

Found thousands of Ophrys aranifera plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173.2: 48
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3553,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10