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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Chichester Oxenden   5 June [1862 or 1864?]1


June 5

Dear Sir

I have this day sent you two or three “Musk-Orchis”,2 in a little Box—

They are in profusion, & you can have so many as you please

—I consider him about as faultless a flower as any of the whole Brotherhood—

—On no account trouble yourself to write, unless I can work for you—

—Two or three young Ladies in my immediate neighbourhood are clever & active Plant-hunters, & first rate Artists also—

—This is great good fortune—

—This day I found fully 50 Bees—& some of the most perfect & dark-coloured Flies I ever came across—3

That which I have enclosed in the Box was growing in a Natural Curve, which is unusual—

Faithfully your’s | G. C. Oxenden


The conjectured years are based on the assumption that the letter forms part of the extant correspondence between CD and Oxenden that took place in 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10) and 1864 (see, for example, letter from G. C. Oxenden, 1 August 1864).
Herminium monorchis, the musk orchis, is discussed in Orchids, pp. 74–5, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, pp. 145–6 (Collected papers 2: 142–3), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 59–62. CD’s notes on the species are in DAR 70: 32–7.
For CD’s description of Ophrys apifera, the bee ophrys, see Orchids, pp. 63–72, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 145 (Collected papers 2: 142), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 52–9; for his description of Ophrys muscifera, the fly orchis, see Orchids, pp. 55–60, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 144 (Collected papers 2: 141), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 45–9. CD’s notes on these species are in DAR 70.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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

‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Sends musk orchid.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 63
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4520,” accessed on 26 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12