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Darwin Correspondence Project

From L. E. Becker   21 May [1863]1

Altham | Accrington.

May 21


I have this day forwarded to you a small box containing plants of Lychnis which I hope will reach you tomorrow in tolerably good condition.2 I have also enclosed a tin canister of flowers and I hope there will be pollen enough to enable you if you please to try the experiment of fertilising with it some of the plants grown in your neighbourhood. Since I wrote last3 I took my note book into a different part of the wood and examined 122 plants of Lychnis with 〈the〉 following result—

Common form. males 41 females 23. hermaphrodite 29 males with dark stamens. 29   I pulled to pieces numbers of the flowers with long p〈is〉til but never found the stamens developed in them. The stamens are normally of medium length but in some plants they are very long, in others very short, the flowers on each plant are generally alike in this as in other respects.

With many apologies for troubling you by writing so much about these plants I remain Sir | Yours very respectfully | L. E. Becker

CD annotations

2.1 Common form.... in them. 2.3] scored ink
2.3 in some … Sir 3.2] scored ink
End of letter: ‘(Counting all, except hermaphrodites, together we get proportion of Hermaphrodites.)’ ink


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from L. E. Becker, 18 May 1863.
The reference is to a form of Lychnis dioica (Silene dioica) that Becker believed to be a new variety (see letter from L. E. Becker, 18 May 1863 and n. 1).
See letter from L. E. Becker, 18 May 1863.


Has forwarded a box of Lychnis plants to CD; gives her observations on the variations in stamen length.

Letter details

Letter no.
Lydia Ernestine Becker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 106
Physical description
2pp damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4173,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

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