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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Chichester Oxenden   5 July [1862]1

Dear Sir

I carefully showed to my Foreman, who goes with me on Snipe-shooting days, the Plants of “Epipactis palustris” and caused him to sit up with them last night—2

—He is a good Gardener, & certain to have made no mistake—

—I also taught him to approach the plants very cautiously—

—The day had been without rain, & the Evening was fine but cloudy—

—Nevertheless the absence of Insects in this One instance is not conclusive, since it may have been due to hygrometric causes—

—If I can find means to go myself I will make a certainty of it—

Sincerely | G C. Oxenden

Broome | July 5—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. C. Oxenden, 8 July 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10).
In June 1861, CD had asked Oxenden to observe the behaviour of insects visiting Epipactis palustris, and the resulting movements of the parts of the flowers (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to A. G. More, 4 June 1861, and Correspondence vol. 10, letter from G. C. Oxenden, 8 July 1862). Oxenden’s assistance in supplying CD with specimens and information is acknowledged in Orchids, pp. 31–2 n. CD’s description of E. palustris and its pollination is in Orchids, pp. 94–102. In ‘Fertilization of orchids’, pp. 148–9 (Collected papers 2: 145–6), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 99–100, CD added further observations, made by his son William, of insects visiting the species.


His gardener kept an all-night watch on Epipactis palustris but saw no insects visit.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 64
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4553,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)