To Joseph Decaisne   16 May 1859

Melbourne botanic & zoolog. Garden,

16 May 1859.

Venerable friend and colleague.

You will justly regard me as very remiss in my correspondence for having not answered long before this your very kind letter dated 16 June 1858.1 I have now also to acknowledge the receipt of your very friendly communication dated february 1859.2

Soon after the receipt of the first of these two letters, I communicated with a "squatter" resident in the Corypha country, to send me as many seeds of the palm as possible. He accordingly sent an aboriginal to the stately groves of these trees and procured a large quantity, but as the distance where these palms grow is 300 miles from Melbourne and partially through a very wild country, it happened that the parcel was unfortunately lost on its way to me. However I will bear your request in regard to the palm fruits in mind at the next season, when they are obtainable.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure, than to aid so distinguished a botanist as yourself wherever it lays in my humble power, and I have therefore sent by this months overland mail via South hampton (freight paid) all the rarer cucurbitaceae3 which I have in my collection, likewise the seeds of same & also fragments of several Asclepiadeae, which I believe will prove partially new. I can only regret, that the small collection, which I forward is so little worthy of your acceptance, but it must be born in mind, that the specimens collected during Mr Gregorys expedition4 had to be carried for thousands of miles on pack horses, thus being subject to continuous braekage. After my return I did not like to make further use of the permission, given by Her Brittanic Majestys Home Government of retaining for myself a set, than laying small fragments for my herbarium aside. These I have gladly shared with you, and as I have added notes of some of the Cucurbitaceae drawn up on the spot from fresh specimens, I still hope that they will be useful for your monograph. However better specimens of most you will find in Sir W. Hookers collection at Kew. Would you be so very kind to give publicity to my notes on Cucurbitaceae after you kindfully corrected the interim-names?

I feel under great obligation to you for your prompt information on Arauja 5 & Rhyncharrhena. The latter I have published in the 5. No. of my Fragmenta phytographiae Australiae where also a new species of Cucumis (Cucumis jucunda) with edible fruits is described.6 I believe you are quite correct in referring Cucurbita micrantha7 to Cucumis.

Arauja must have been thrown on shore of East Australia with ballast or by other means [like]8 Soliva anthemoides,9 Helosciadium leptophyllum, Tagetes glandulifera, Centratherum muticum (Centaurea riparia, All. Cunn & DC. prod.) and many other South American plants.

You will be aware that Lagenaria vulgaris & Sicyos angulatus grow also indigenously in Australia.

Corypha Australia10 occurs as far South as 37° 30' in Gipps Land, as stated in my annual report 1854.11 It seems that the letter of Count Tascher you refer to in regard to Josephinia12 must have been lost.

With the best wishes for your welfare I remain, venerable friend,

Your very obliged

Ferd. Mueller


I find that the length of the funicle gives good characters of discrimination in some of the Cucurbitaceae.13




Centaurea riparia

Centratherum muticum


Corypha Australia

Cucumis jucunda

Cucurbita micrantha


Helosciadium leptophyllum


Lagenaria vulgaris


Sicyos angulatus

Soliva anthemoides

Tagetes glandulifera

Letter not found.
Letter not found.
The collection did not arrive; see M to J. Descaine, 25 December 1861.
North Australia Exploring Expedition, 1855-6.
See B59.13.02, p. 45.
See B55.13.03, p. 17.
MS damaged.
Soliva anthemifolia?
C. australis?
Letter not found.
MS annotation: 'M. Ferdinand Müller'.

Please cite as “FVM-59-05-16d,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 18 September 2021,