skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. W. Bennett   22 September [1874]1

Down. | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept. 22nd.

Dear Sir.

I thank you for your kindness.— Prof. Hoffmann generally sends me his papers. but oddly I cannot remember whether I have seen the two sent by you—2 I shall however no doubt, remember when I look at them, which I will do in the course of a week or so. & I will then return them to you, as I presume you want them back. With respect to Drosera & Pinguicula. I imagine that you refer to cells with spiral lines, just like the spiral vessels & which surprised me much; but I shall hear from Hooker.—3 I do not think these spiral cells are connected with digestion, as they occur (as far as I have seen) only towards the margin of the leaves in Pinguicula & not at all in Dionæa— But I am scandalously ignorant of histology— These cells were described in the Glands of Drosera by Trécul & Groemland many years ago in Annales des Sc: Nat:4

With many thanks | Yours very faithfully. | Ch. Darwin.

P.S. Looking at your notice again I think I know to what you refer. In Drosera they have the power of absorption; in Pinguicula both of secretion & absorption.— Speaking from memory I think they differ a good deal in Structure in the 2 genera


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. W. Bennett, 21 September 1874.
Bennett had sent two botanical papers by Hermann Hoffmann (Hoffmann 1874a and 1874b; see letter from A. W. Bennett, 21 September 1874 and n. 1).
Joseph Dalton Hooker was planning to visit CD on 26 September (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 23 September 1874).
CD refers to papers by Johannes Grönland (Grönland 1855) and Auguste Adolphe Lucien Trécul (Trécul 1855). CD referrred to these papers in his discussion of the functional morphology of tentacles in Drosera rotundifolia (common or round-leaved sundew; Insectivorous plants, p. 5 n.)


Grönland, Johannes. 1855. Note sur les organes glanduleux du genre Drosera. Annales des sciences naturelles (botanique) 4th ser. 3: 297–303.

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

Trécul, Auguste. 1855. Organisation des glandes pédicellées des feuilles du Drosera rotundifolia. Annales des sciences naturelles (botanique) 4th ser. 3: 303–11.


Thanks for sending papers by Hermann Hoffmann.

Discusses spiral cells in Drosera and Pinguicula.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred William Bennett
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 84
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9653,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22