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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 September 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sep 25 1868

My dear Hooker

You will remember the reiterated & incredible accounts of oats converted into barley & wheat. A Mr Dunn sent me thro’ Huxley a photograph of an ear of wheat apparently with 2 florets of the oat growing out of it. I answered that the specimen was not worth an old straw unless soaked to see if there had been any trick or accidental insertion, & unless examined by some well-known botanist.1 He has now generously given me the specimen which he evidently values much, & is convinced there has been no trick. As under these circumstances I felt nearly sure you wd examine it I have sent it by this post registered in a box. One of the glumes has fallen off & is put separately in paper.. I shd add that a stupid farmer took out of the lower floret, as Mr Dunn says, a perfect oat seed. If these florets have not been inserted or accidentally entangled, the case is wonderful; but of course I do not know whether the 2 florets have the real character of any variety of the oat. If not a true oat it is an odd case of bud-variation or disease.2 Should there be no deception I hope you will publish an account & a figure & I wd get further details, but I quite expect that it will all turn out humbug.

yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

Let me have a line, as I must write to Mr Dunn.—

PS. We shall be delighted to see Harriet with you or sooner. Mrs. Hooker must consider that she owes us a visit as she cannot come now—3

P.S. I have read Berkeleys address in Gard. Chronicle. It is tremendous on me.— I do not think it looks nice to write to a man too thank him for praising one.4 But if you have at any time to write to him, & can remember, pray say with entire truth, that I was deeply gratified by what he said.

Praise from such a man is something to remember.—


CD mistakenly wrote ‘Dunn’ when referring to Charles William Nunn; he also refers to Thomas Henry Huxley. See the letter from C. W. Nunn, 23 September 1868 and n. 1. CD’s letter to Nunn has not been found.
CD included a chapter ‘On bud-variation, and on certain anomalous modes of reproduction and variation’ in Variation 1: 373–411.
CD was expecting Hooker, and his daughter Harriet Anne Hooker, to visit with Asa Gray and Jane Loring Gray (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [8–10 September 1868], and letter from F. H. Hooker to Emma Darwin, 24 September [1868]).
On Miles Joseph Berkeley’s address, published in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, see the letter to M. J. Berkeley, 7 September 1868. CD had already written to Hooker that he had thanked Berkeley (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [8–10 September 1868]).


Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends an ear of wheat with two florets of oats growing out of it. Expects it will all turn out a humbug.

Berkeley’s address in Gardeners’ Chronicle [(1868): 920, also Rep. BAAS 38 (1868): 83–7] praises CD tremendously.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 93–5
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6393,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

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