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Letter 4523

Wedgwood, L. C. to Darwin, C. R.

[6 June 1864]

    Summary Add

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    Sends observations on seeds of Pulmonaria officinalis requested by CD.



My dear Uncle Charles

I cannot give a very satisfactory answer, as many of the flowers have shed their seeds, but it is really quite easy to tell by the husk if there have been any: 1st. They are seeding pretty freely, sometimes 6 or 7 fl. with seed to a head, I should think about half the flowers produce seeds. 2ndly. Far the greatest number have only one seed, but several have two and one I saw wh had had 3

How curious it looks seeing the teeth of this calyx carefully holding the seed in   I wonder why it does it—

Mamma is coming home today, she has been very unwell but I hope is better now—

Ever your affte. niece and lieutenant | Lucy C Wedgwood

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 4523.f1
    The date is established by the endorsement. The Monday before 7 June 1864 was 6 June.
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    f2 4523.f2
    The flowers were Pulmonaria officinalis (see CD annotations). No request from CD for information on the species has been found; however, CD had been interested in the fertility and heterostyly of Pulmonaria since 1863, and had corresponded extensively with his son William Erasmus on P. angustifolia in April and May 1864 (see, for example, letters from W. E. Darwin, 14 April [1864] and n. 1, and 12 May [1864], and letters to W. E. Darwin, [after 14 April -- 5 May 1864], and 14 May [1864]).
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    f3 4523.f3
    See CD annotations at top of letter. CD evidently incorporated the observations made by Lucy Wedgwood at her family's home at Leith Hill Place in Surrey into his own description of Pulmonaria officinalis in Forms of flowers; on page 102 he wrote that in the summer of 1864 he had seen some long-styled plants of P. officinalis `growing by themselves in a garden in Surrey', and `about half the flowers had set fruit, several of which contained 2, and one contained even 3 seeds'. There is no record of a visit by CD to Surrey in 1864. CD began to receive botanical observations from Lucy Wedgwood and her two sisters, Katherine Elizabeth Sophy and Margaret Susan, in 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from M. S. Wedgwood, [before 4 August 1862]).
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    f4 4523.f4
    The reference is to Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, CD's sister.
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    f5 4523.f5
    CD's annotations at the bottom of the letter record the preliminary results of experiments indicating that long-styled forms of Pulmonaria officinalis were self-fertile. See letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 25 June [1864] and n. 8.
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