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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. C. Oxenden   21 July 1871

Dear Sir

Tomorrow (Saturday) I will select a Plant of “Ophrys Apifera” (var: lutea)1 & send it to you, with a good Ball of Earth—in the hope that it may survive the process—

—I will try & get One of which the flowers are not entirely Overblown—so that the traces of the Component colours shall still be evident—

—But, in any case, rely upon it, the Plants sent shall be of this curious Variety, & not common O. Apifera—

—As to soil, (or rather a Matrix for the Soil they will bring with them,) light loam of Upland Pastures suits their habits well—

—As to common O. Apifera, when carefully protectedthroughout its existence, it attains with me even to 22 inches in height—but with no encrease of size in the flower, merely a slight darkening & depth in the purple portions—

Your’s most truly | G. Chichester Oxenden—

Broome | nr. Canterbury

July 21. 1871


No other correspondence concerning Oxenden’s sending of the orchid Ophrys apifera (the bee orchid) to CD has been found. Oxenden is acknowledged in Orchids and Orchids 2d ed. for supplying CD with rare British orchids. Oxenden may refer to O. lutea, the yellow bee orchid.


Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Will send Ophrys apifera var. lutea.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome, Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 68
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7876,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19