skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Alfred William Bennett   22 April 1869

Lancaster Villa | York Road, Upper Holloway N.

April 22nd 1869


By this post I venture to send you a copy of a paper written for the “Linnean Society”, which illustrates an interesting fact connected with appliances for cross-fertilization in the structure of Parnassia palustris.1

I have been observing during the past winter the mode of fertilization in our common wild-flowers which habitually flower & bear seed in the winter season when we cannot suppose that any insect agency exists to produce cross-fertilization, such as Lanium album, Capsella Bursa-pastoris2 &c; & find that the pollen is almost invariably discharged in the bud before the opening of the flower, thus insuring self-fertilization; can you direct me to any previous observations on this subject?

Apologizing for the trouble, permit me to describe myself | yours very respectfully | Alfred W Bennett

C. Darwin Esq.


Bennett refers to Bennett 1868. The offprint has not been found in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, but the article in CD’s own copy of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) is lightly scored.
Lamium album is the white dead-nettle; Capsella bursa-pastoris is shepherd’s-purse.


Bennett, Alfred William. 1868. Note on the structure and affinities of Parnassia palustris L. [Read 19 November 1868.] Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 11 (1871): 24–31.


Sends paper on mechanisms of cross-fertilisation in flowers ["Note on Parnassia palustris", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 11 (1871): 24–31].

Studying how fertilisation takes place without the aid of insects in winter varieties.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred William Bennett
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Upper Holloway
Source of text
DAR 160: 137
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6710,” accessed on 5 July 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17