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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Rivers   17 [January 1863]1



My dear Sir

Will you permit me to ask one more question;2 Can you distinguish generally, always, or never a nectarine tree from a Peach before it flowers or before it fruits. I shd. like to quote your answer.—3

Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters to Thomas Rivers, 11 January [1863] and 15 January [1863].
In December 1862, CD began writing chapter 11 of Variation, dealing with bud-variation, and initiated a correspondence with Rivers, a renowned Hertfordshire nurseryman (see Correspondence vol. 10, letters to Thomas Rivers, 23 December [1862] and 28 December [1862]). See also letters to Thomas Rivers, 7 January [1863], 11 January [1863], and 15 January [1863].
In Variation 1: 340, CD cited Rivers as the authority for his statement that the fruit of the peach and nectarine differed in appearance and flavour, but the trees differed ‘in no other respects’, and could not even be distinguished ‘whilst young’.


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

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


Can TR distinguish generally, always, or never, a nectarine-tree from a peach-tree before it flowers or before it fruits? He wants to quote TR’s answer.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Rivers
Sent from
Source of text
John Wilson (dealer) (catalogue 61, 21 July 1989, item 50)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3922,” accessed on 19 September 2021,

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