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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [17 November 1845]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I cannot find out anything more about the other species of cactus: it grew on Albemarle Isd & I think on the other islands. The specimen of O. Galapageia described by Henslow came from James Isld. Have you two or three of the briefest miserablest notes about the Galapageian trees, such as, “this is commonest kind” “red flowers” &c &c If not I wd copy them for you.—1

I hope you have received Cosmos. if not, please inform me.— What am I do with your parcels for Ehrenberg & Humboldt: I am going to London for a few days to my Brothers “7. Park St Grosvenor Sqr.” & will take them with me & I will forward them per steam-boat or leave them till called for, or bring them back with me & return them with the pamphlets which you have so kindly lent me, but wh. will take me some time to read. I have sent to see if I can buy Geograph. Part of Canary Isd. 2 for I am ashamed to say I have not yet got on with it.—

I have just got as far as Lycopodium in your Flora3 & in truth cannot say enough how much I have been interested in all your scattered remarks. I am delighted to have in print many of the statements which you made in your letters to me, when we were discussing some of the geographical points.— I can never cease marvelling at the similarity of the Antarctic Floras: it is wonderful.— I hope you will tabulate all your results & put prominently what you allude to (& what is preeminently wanted by non-botanists like myself) which of the genera are & which not found in the lowland or in the highland Tropics, as far as known.— Out of the very many new observations to me, nothing has surprised me more, than the absence of Alpine floras in the S. islands: it strikes me as most inexplicable. Do you feel sure about the similar absence in the Sandwich group: is it not opposed quite to the case of Teneriffe & Madeira? & Mediterranean islands?? I had fancied that T. del Fuego had possessed a large alpine flora!—4 I shd. much like to know whether the climate of N. New Zealand is much more insular than Tasmania; I shd. doubt it from general appearance of places & yet I presume the Flora of the former is far more scanty than of Tasmania: do tell me what you think on this point.— I have also been particularly interested by all your remarks on variation, affinities &c: in short your book has been to me a most valuable one & I must have purchased it, had you not most kindly given it & so rendered it even far more valuable to me.—

When you compare a species to another, you sometimes do not mention the station of the latter (it being I presume well-known), but to non-botanists such words of explanation wd add greatly to the interest, not that non-botanists have any claim at all for such explanations in professedly botanical works.— There is one expression which you Botanists often use (though I think not you individually often) which puts me in a passion, viz calling polleniferous flowers5 “sterile”, as non-seed-bearing. Are the plates from your own drawings, they strike me as excellent. So now you have had my presumptuous commendations on your great work.

Ever yours | C. Darwin

P.S. I must sometime beg your copy of l’Espece6 to copy my marks, as I by no means want to wade through so poor a performance again.


CD’s plant notes were originally given to John Stevens Henslow, before the Galápagos plant collection was transferred to Hooker (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to J. D. Hooker, [13 or 20 November 1843]). The notes are described in D. M. Porter 1981. Henslow described the Opuntia in Henslow 1837.
Webb and Berthelot 1836–50.
See Correspondence vol. 2, letter to J. D. Hooker, [13 or 20 November 1843].
Male flowers, in plants with separate sexes.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Gérard, Frédéric. 1844. De l’espèce dans les corps organisés. Extract from d’Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines, ed., Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. 16 vols. Paris. 1841–9.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1844–7. Flora Antarctica. 1 vol. and 1 vol. of plates. Pt 1 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Reeve Brothers.

Porter, Duncan M. 1981. Darwin’s missing notebooks come to light. Nature 291: 13. [Vols. 2,3]


Comments on JDH’s Flora Antarctica. CD is delighted with it.

"I can never cease marvelling at the similarity of the Antarctic floras: it is wonderful."

Questions JDH on points raised by the work: absence of alpine flora on southern islands; comparison of climate and floras of Tasmania and New Zealand.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 46
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 927,” accessed on 4 August 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3