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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hugh Falconer   29 December [1862]1


Dec. 29th.

My dear Falconer

Heaven only knows when I shall be able to come to London.2 If I could I would not have troubled you with this query, which I send for the chance of your having any facts out of the stores of your knowledge. Have you met with any cases of what gardeners call “sports” and what I shall call “bud-variations”;3 i.e., a bud suddenly assuming a new character, such as a moss-rose on a provence, or a nectarine on a peach tree. I much wish to collect all authentic cases. I especially ask you because Sir R. Schonburgk (no good authority) states that such bud-variations occurred rather often with flowers from warmer temperate regions grown in hot St. Domingo.4 Can you aid me? Little or great changes would be all gratefully received. There are two or three other points on which I want to talk with you; so that whenever I can get to London, I must beat up your quarters.

My dear Falconer | Yours most truly | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to ‘bud-variations’ (see n. 3, below).
Falconer had for some time been anxious to see CD, having failed to do so when CD visited London in September (see letter to Hugh Falconer, 14 November [1862] and n. 11).
According to his ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II), CD began preparing a draft of chapter 11 of Variation, ‘On bud-variation, and on certain anomalous modes of reproduction and variation’, on 21 December 1862.


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

Schomburgk, Robert Hermann. 1857. Description of a remarkable spike or bunch of fruits of the fig banana (Musa sapientum), var. [Read 2 June 1857.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 2 (1858): 130–2. [Vols. 10,11]

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has HF met with any cases of what gardeners call "sports" and what CD will call "bud-variations"?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hugh Falconer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 28
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3883,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

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