skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Daniel Oliver   25 November 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

25. XI. 62

My dear Sir

Two forms of Epilobium angustifolium are described in the English Floras—a short & long capsuled form.—1 But my attention was attracted to their possible dimorphism by a M.S. note of Mr. Babington’s—in the herb. of the late Mr. Borrer.—2 Mr Babn. writes (in 1841) stating that he had received specimens of the E. macrocarpum described by Stephens (Ann. Nat. Hist. viii. 170)3 & that he thinks it is E. angustifolium producing seed for—he says “I suspect that the ‘short turgid pods’ of E. angustifolium do not ripen their seed”.—4

More about these forms is written in the same vol. of the Annals.5

I must look again at the paper on Strawberries in the Museum copy of the Technologist6 & if it seem worthwhile have it sent down to you along with the Gardens copy of Hooker’s Journal containing the Linum paper.7

I shewed your note to Dr. Hooker.8

Very sincerely yours | Danl. Oliver

Chas. Darwin Esq

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘The case wd. concern me if everywhere the two forms appear— | See about Babington | case of Stellaria (?) graminea.—’9 pencil
End of letter, ink: ‘Vol. 8 | p. 246—further information on do.10 p. 401 | p. 403’


William Borrer died in January 1862, leaving his herbarium to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (DNB); the reference is to Charles Cardale Babington.
Stephens 1841. There is an annotated copy of the volume of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History containing this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL.
In his paper, Henry Oxley Stephens claimed that the name Epilobium angustifolium had been applied to two distinct species, the second of which he proposed to call E. macrocarpum. William Allport Leighton, who supported this identification, sent Borrer his descriptions for comment, before publishing an account in December 1841 (Leighton 1841). In a letter from Babington to Borrer of 12 November 1841, which is reproduced in A. M. Babington ed. 1897, pp. 284–5, Babington stated: From what you said in your letter I have again examined the Epilobium angustifolium, but am unable to see any real distinction between the two forms … I presume that Leighton is not prepared to separate the two plants, or we should have heard more about it before this time.
Leighton 1841 and 1842. There is an annotated copy of the volume of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History containing this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL. See also letter to W. A. Leighton, 26 November [1862].
Oliver refers to Planchon 1847–8, which appeared in volumes 6 and 7 of the London Journal of Botany; after 1848 the journal was called Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany after its editor, William Jackson Hooker (BUCOP). See letter to Daniel Oliver, 23 [November 1862] and n. 10.
See letter from C. C. Babington, 17 January 1862, and letter to C. C. Babington, 20 January [1862].
These are references to additional articles on Epilobium angustifolium in volume 8 of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History (see n. 3, above).


BUCOP: British Union-catalogue of periodicals: a record of the periodicals of the world, from the seventeenth century to the present day, in British libraries. Edited by James D. Stewart et al. 4 vols. and supplement. London: Butterworths scientific publications. 1955–62.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Planchon, Jules Emile. 1847–8. Sur la famille des Linnes. London Journal of Botany 6 (1847): 588–603; 7 (1848): 165–86, 473–501, 507–28.


Informs CD of possible dimorphism of Epilobium angustifolium.

Letter details

Letter no.
Daniel Oliver
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 111 (ser. 2): 61–2
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3828,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

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