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Darwin Correspondence Project

From M. T. Masters   [before 13 December 1877]1

Gard. Chron. | 41 Wellington Street | Covent Garden

My dear Sir

I am greatly obliged to you for forwarding the interesting specimen of “self containedness” if I may coin such a word— I propose to have a figure made of it— Of course you are aware that some of the Bromeliads will flower under similar treatment  I do not know if seeds have ever been obtained in this way but it would be interesting to note their degree of vitality if produced.2

Your plant is evidently a Cotyledon of the § Echeveria—and I think it is the plant called in gardens Echeveria fulgens (see figure in Saunders’ Refugium tab 64. Vol. 1)3   I will however make further enquiries from Mr Baker who monographed the genus and will let you know the result4

With renewed thanks | faithfully yrs. | Maxwell. T. Masters

Charles Darwin Esq LLD &c


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from M. T. Masters, [13 December 1877].
CD had sent Masters a flowering branch and evidently asked Masters to identify the species (letter to M. T. Masters, [6–12 December 1877]). Bromeliads (family Bromeliaceae) are epiphytes in their natural environment, growing on trees, stumps, and decaying branches. In his letter to Masters of [6–12 December 1877], CD described how he had suspended the cut branch of his plant in his study.
Cotyledon is a genus in the family Crassulaceae (stonecrop or orpine). Echeveria was considered a subgenus of Cotyledon by many authors, but a genus by others (see Refugium botanicum 1: Tab. 56 and preceding text). William Wilson Saunders was the editor of Refugium botanicum.
John Gilbert Baker had described the genus Cotyledon within the natural order Crassulaceae in Refugium botanicum 1: Tab. 56–72.


Refugium botanicum: Refugium botanicum; or, figures and descriptions from living specimens, of little known or new plants of botanical interest. Edited by William Wilson Saunders, descriptions by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach and John Gilbert Baker. 5 vols. London: John Van Voorst. 1868–79.


Thanks CD for his specimen of "self-containedness". Some of the bromeliads will flower under similar treatment, but MTM does not know whether they seed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Maxwell Tylden Masters
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Gardeners’ Chronicle
Source of text
DAR 171: 65
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4888,” accessed on 31 July 2021,