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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   20 September 1868

Eashing | Godalming.

20 Sept/68

My dear Mr Darwin,

I venture to add a few words to the Lobelia paper. if you happen to think it worth printing. The comparison of structure & function in neighbouring genera always seems to me most interesting.1 It was especially so in the Orchid—2

I was delighted with an opening bud of Campanula Rotundifolia— The adaptation of Corolla, anthers and brush is beautiful. The brush & its rows I found in Lindley—but he says Brongniart said it had nothing to do with fertilization—true enough as regards self fertilization3

I wont put any more questions to you though I am sorely tempted

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

C Darwin Esq FRS

You wont be much more bothered with me as holiday & flowers are alike nearly over.


In Farrer 1868, p. 262, Farrer also described structures similar to those of Lobelia in Campanula and Jasione. In Lindley 1853, Campanula and Jasione were in what was then called the order Campanulaceae, while Lobelia was in Lobeliaceae; all three genera are now placed in the family Campanulaceae (Mabberley 1997).
Farrer described a ‘brush’, or a ring of hairs or bristles, on the style of Lobelia that swept the pollen out of the flower as the flower opened; the brush in Campanula differed in being longer and in consisting of ten rows of bristles set opposite the ten anther-cells (Farrer 1868, pp. 260–2). See Lindley 1853, p. 690, for Adolphe Brongniart’s discussion of the ‘collecting hairs’ and what he thought was their lack of connection to ‘the fertilising process’.


Farrer, Thomas Henry. 1868. On the manner of fertilization of the scarlet runner and blue lobelia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 2: 255–63.

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

Mabberley, David J. 1997. The plant-book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Sends an addition to Lobelia paper; admires adaptations for fertilisation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Eashing Park, Godalming
Source of text
DAR 164: 45
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6381,” accessed on 26 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16