skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   6 January [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 6th

My dear Prof. Oliver

You told me not to speak of troubling you, & by all that is good & bad I am taking you at your word.2 The case stands thus with Gentisea: we find bladders of a quite peculiar structure on the narrow leaves of G. ornata & africana, but not on those of G. filiformis; whereas we find ordinary bladders (like those of U. montana) on the rhizomes of filiformis.3 Now it seems to me very desirable to ascertain whether the same sp. of Gentisea bears two kinds of bladders. Could you therefore spare rhizomes of G. ornata or of G. africana—or more leaves of filiformis? It wd be an extraordinary fact if the same species produces two kinds of bladders, & yet I must think this probable, on the supposition that G. filiformis is closely allied to G. ornata & Africana; the latter two having very similar bladders on their leaves.—

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Daniel Oliver, 19 December 1874 (Correspondence vol. 22).
In his letter of 19 December 1874, Oliver had written, ‘It is too bad to talk of asking “favours”!’.
Oliver had sent CD specimens of Genlisea (the corkscrew plant), from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in December 1874 (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter from Daniel Oliver, 24 December 1874. Utricularia montana is a synonym of U. alpina, the alpine bladderwort. CD discussed G. ornata, G. africana, G. aurea, and G. filiformis in Insectivorous plants, pp. 446–52.


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

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


CD’s observations [for Insectivorous plants] seem to indicate that the same species of Genlisea may bear two kinds of bladders, so he asks for rhizomes and leaves of three species to test this possibility.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9803,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23