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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   23 October [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 23d

My dear Hooker

How good you have been about the plants, but indeed I did not intend you to write about Drosophyllum, though I shall be very glad to have a specimen.2 Experiments on other plants lead to fresh experiments. Neptunia is evidently a hopeless case.—3 I shall be very glad of the other plants whenever they are ready. I constantly fear that I shall become to you a giant of bores.

I am delighted to hear that you are at work on Nepenthes, & I hope that you will have good luck.— It is good news that the fluid is acid: you ought to collect a good lot & have the acid analysed.— I hope that the work will give you as much pleasure as analogous work has me.— I do not think any discovery ever gave me more pleasure than proving a true act of digestion in Drosera. I am now just beginning to draw up my account of Drosera & its allies, but it will take me many months.4

I have become profoundly interested over Desmodium, & sometime I must tell you what little I have made out about it.5 I believe Frank has been invited by you to Kew (By the way Lenny enjoyed meeting Dr Huggins & the other great guns at your house) for Sunday: could you on this day permit him to look over (I am sure he wd. be careful) the whole dried collection of genus Desmodium, & even perhaps of any closely allied genus; I want to hear the character of the leaves in most of the species, & the degree of variability of the leaves in the D. gyrans itself.— I have given him instructions on the chance.—6

Lastly have you any seed of Lathyrus nissolia?7 Or can you tell me where I shd. have a chance of begging a few; but do not write yourself—only give Frank address.—

Yours affecty | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Darwin, 22 October 1873.
Hooker was working on insectivorous plants for CD, and had written to the Dublin Botanic Garden for a specimen of Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Portuguese sundew or dewy pine; letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 October 1873 and nn. 1 and 3).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 October 1873. CD discussed Neptunia oleracea (the sensitive neptunia or water mimosa) in Movement in plants.
CD’s account was published as Insectivorous plants in 1875.
CD published on Desmodium in Movement in plants.
See letters to Francis Darwin, 22 October 1873 and 23 October [1873]. CD also refers to Leonard Darwin and William Huggins. Desmodium gyrans is now Codariocalyx motorius, the telegraph or semaphore plant.
For CD’s interest in Lathyrus nissolia (the grass vetchling), see the letter to Francis Darwin, 23 October [1873] and n. 2.


Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Neptunia is evidently a hopeless case.

Good news that fluid of Nepenthes is acid.

No discovery ever gave him more pleasure than proving a true act of digestion in Drosera.

Has become profoundly interested in Desmodium. Asks whether Frank [Darwin] can look over the whole dried collection of the genus.

Has JDH any seed of Lathyrus nissolia?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 282–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9108,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21