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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Lydia Ernestine Becker   18 May 1863

Miss Becker presents her compliments to Mr. Darwin and takes the liberty of sending him the enclosed flowers of a variety of Lychnis dioica common in the woods here but which she has not observed elsewhere.1 It has bisexual flowers and large dark purple anthers which give the plant a very striking handsome appearance. The same conspicuous anthers occur in flowers bearing stamens only of which one is sent. Miss Becker does not know whether such a variety as this would be interesting to Mr. Darwin, if not she must apologise for having troubled him.

Altham | Accrington | Lancashire

May 18th. 1863.

CD annotations

2.1 Altham] ‘Altham’ ink


Becker lived in Altham, Lancashire, between 1838 and 1865, during which time she developed an interest in botany (DNB). It was later established that these plants represented a diseased form of Lychnis dioica (Silene dioica) and not a new variety (see letter from L. E. Becker, 23–4 May [1863] and CD note, letter from L. E. Becker, 28 May [1863], and Becker 1869). When Becker published her observations she substituted the name L. diurna, a synonym for L. dioica (Index Kewensis).


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.

Index Kewensis: Index Kewensis: plantarum phanerogamarum, nomina et synonyma omnium generum et specierum … nomine recepto auctore patria unicuique plantae subjectis. 4 vols., and 20 supplements. Compiled by Benjamin Daydon Jackson, et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 1893–1996.


Sends flowers of a variety of Lychnis dioica which has bisexual flowers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Lydia Ernestine Becker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 108
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4170,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

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