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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [28 September 1868]1

Royal Gardens Kew


Dear Darwin

The Wheat & Oat was carefully opened examined in Congress of Oliver, Bentham Gray & myself.—2 it is a case of a bit of oat panicle entangled in the wheat ear. They have grown side by side & been blown together & hence the interlocking— there is no organic connection of any kind.

Gray said before I opened the box, that he did not doubt but that it would prove a simila case to what he has often had referred to him, viz Bromus sterilis entangled in the same way in a Wheat Ear—3 The retrorsely roughened pedicel of the oat renders it impossible for a young floret so entangled to get free again of itself.

Gray’s go to Somersetshire for a week or so on Friday & to you about the middle of the month. I shall like much to bring Harriette & Willy.4

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

Have you seen Holyoake’s account of the B. A. meeting addressed to New York Tribune— I had no idea he was such a trashy fellow.5

Recd enclosed | I have sent for a specimen6


The date is established by the reference to the wheat specimen with oat florets allegedly growing in it; CD had sent it to Hooker on 25 September (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September 1868). In 1868, the Monday following 25 September was 28 September.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September 1868. Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver, George Bentham, and Asa Gray.
Bromus sterilis is a North American grass.
CD was expecting Hooker to visit Down House with Asa Gray and Jane Loring Gray, who were visiting from the United States (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September 1868 and n. 3). Hooker refers to his children Harriet Anne and William Henslow Hooker. For Hooker’s and the Grays’ visit to Down from 24 October, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 September 1868, n. 12.
Hooker refers to the journalist George Jacob Holyoake, founder of the secularist movement. Reports of the Norwich meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune on 5 September 1868, p. 2, and 10 September 1868, p. 2. The reports, by ‘our special correspondent’, were unsigned.
The enclosure and specimen have not been identified.


The wheat and oat specimen has been examined "in congress" by Oliver, Bentham, Asa Gray, and JDH. No organic connection of any kind.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 235
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6396,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

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