skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Joseph Bullar   27 June [1862]1

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

June 27th

Mr Darwin presents his compliments to Dr. Bullar & is very much obliged to him for so kindly sending him the orchid flowers with Diptera—

Mr Darwin has just made out by the aid of one of his sons, that orchis maculata is fertilised by the aid of Diptera.—2


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and CD’s notes on Orchis maculata dated 20 June 1862 (see n. 2, below).
In a note dated 20 June 1862 (DAR 70: 12–14), CD recorded that his son George Howard Darwin had caught six flies (Empis lucida) with pollinia of Orchis maculata attached to their eyes, as well as one specimen of E. pennipes with pollinia attached to its thorax. He also noted that his son William Erasmus Darwin saw a fly remove pollinia of O. maculata in Southampton. In the same note CD recorded having received three flowers of O. latifolia with a black fly in the nectary from a doctor in Southampton, evidently a reference to Bullar, who practised there (Medical directory 1862).


Thanks JB for "orchid flowers with Diptera".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Bullar
Sent from
Down letterhead
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.256)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6806,” accessed on 30 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)