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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Frederick Currey   3 July 1862

3, New Square | Lincolns Inn

July 3. 1862

My dear Sir,

My friend Mr. Wollaston of Chiselhurst has a plant of Spiranthes gemmipara which has thrown up a fine spike—1 The flowers will be in perfection in a few days— I dont know whether it would be worth your while to go as far as Chiselhurst, but if so Mr. W. would be glad to submit it to your examination—

He has paid great attention to the cultivation of British Orchids, although not specially to their mode of fertilization—

I see you consider Ophrys arachnites a species—2 Mr. Wollaston entertains a strong opinion that it is a hybrid between ophrys apifera & O. aranifera— If you do not happen to have seen his remarks upon the subject I think they would interest you— You will find them in the Volume of the Phytologist for 1855—3

Believe me | Yours sincerely | Fredk Currey

Chas Darwin Esqr.

P.S G. B. Wollaston Esqr. Chiselhurst | S.E

is my friend’s address—

CD annotations

3.2 If you … them in 3.4] double scored brown crayon


George Buchanan Wollaston. See letter from Frederick Currey, 12 June 1862.
In Orchids, pp. 72–3, CD discussed the claim that Ophrys arachnites was ‘a mere variety of the varying Bee Ophrys’ (O. apifera); he concluded: ‘it seems to me that, until these forms can be shown to be connected by intermediate varieties, we must rank O. arachnites as a good species, more closely allied to O. aranifera in its manner of fertilisation than to O. apifera.’


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.

Wollaston, George Buchanan. 1855. Various notes on British Orchideæ. Phytologist\ n.s. 1 (1855–6): 225–7.


G. B. Wollaston [in "British Orchideae", Phytologist n.s. 1 (1855–6): 225–7] says Ophrys arachnites is a hybrid, which contradicts CD, who says it is a new species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frederick Currey
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Lincoln’s Inn
Source of text
DAR 161.2: 306
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3639,” accessed on 26 October 2021,

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