From Joseph Hooker   26 December 1859

This is a letter begun a year ago & mislaid — Dec 26/59.


My dear Mueller

Thanks for your letter of 15th Nov.1 & the enclosed specimens of the most curious variety of Campynema linearis. Your grass is Ceratochloa unioloides.

The Senna Cassia never ripens seed with us, you had better write to India for it. Thomson or Thwaites are sure to have it.

The Woollseya 2 is a Viscum very near if not identical with V. articulatum? a most horribly variable plant.


Decr. 26th 1859. We are very glad to see the excellent beginning of the Flora of Victoria.3 The plates are really very good & I do not think you would gain any thing by colored plates. With regard to the Flora of Australia to which your last letter4 says that your Govt. have voted £1000 — I really do not know what is best done — Bentham is little inclined for it — at all, & certainly would not do it in partnership. It is a much more difficult task than you imagine. Working where you are & as your are it is impossible but that you should form too high an estimate of your own advantages & too low a one of the vast stores of material in England & France. You can have no idea of the labor entailed in this country. No Botanist with a scientific reputation at stake would at this period undertake a Flora of Australia without collating the plants of Brown & of the French expeditions, & it would be a wrongful injustice to Cunningham & multitudes of other Botanists & collectors to ignore their labors Then again differing as you & Bentham would do, as to the limits of orders, genera & species, the combined work would be most unsatisfactory to both parties & to the public & the correspondence would be endless. I speak from experience — I […]5 & feel deeply the very different estimate I found of myself & my materials in India & after my return — when I found that I sank into utter insignificance in point of matter & knowledge.

Meanwhile the Govt. here have taken up the idea of Col. Floras in a cheap inexpensive form & may possibly do something in it but nothing is settled — my Father & I have recommended cheap 8vo works with short descriptions & no plates, or outline lithographs like Ic. Plant., to be sold separately & we recommend that expensive illustrations or expensive local Floras, like yours of Victoria, & mine of Tasmania, be left wholly to the Col. Govts to pay for if they please.

It is the same with Thomson & myself, we find we cannot further combine in publishing — he in Calcutta & I in England. The correspondence is endless & the result most unsatisfactory. Again too, I think if you were to work a little in this country you would see & feel more deeply the extreme inconvenience of the provisional way you publish species — it is from no desire of fault-finding that I remark this, but in justice to myself — that I observe that the consultation of & reference to your fragmenta have cost Mr Black6 & myself more labor than the works of any other Botanist whatever — We have all of us here your Botanical reputation deeply at heart & are rejoiced to see a carefully wrought work like your great Victoria Flora, which will I doubt not do you lasting credit as a Botanist & I would earnestly advise you to abandon the attempt to deal with a tropical Flora for which you have neither materials library or knowledge to work out properly. In the present advanced condition of scientific Botany error in identification of well known tropical genera & species are not held to be venial. After all, the great question is, does such work advance science or not & no one can work at a tropical Flora without full materials, except to the retardation of science.

I have at last finished my Flora of Tasmania,7 but the printer works so slowly that it will be yet some weeks before it is all out of hand. Meanwhile I am very busy with the Precursores Florae Indicae8 in the Linnean Journal & with — various works at the Garden Herbarium & Libraries. I sent you a large collection of named Indian plants the other day — but you must remember that except of species published by myself the names are not critical or authentic. I have named them as best I can, to aid those who receive them but my identifications have no Pretensions to exactness. We have also sent you another very large collection of Garden seeds all fresh & of all sorts. —

Your box of Araucarias arrived in first rate order & we are very much obliged for them, though unfortunately they are now so extremely common in the country that we should have preferred ornamental Victoria plants & especially alpines that might do out of doors or in conservatories. We have also sent Papyrus & some other water plants but Mr Smith doubts whether at this season of year they will reach you all alive.

We are extremely obliged & gratified by your kindness to poor Adamson[.] it is a mystery to us why he cannot get on in business. His Father was one of the most eminent merchants in Glasgow & had a large family, almost all of whom are dead by some fatality or other. Frederick was a school & college companion of mine, always a most steady & excellent fellow, very fond of Botany — he set up in business in Glasgow & was I believe doing well when he gave it up for Australia He was always very modest & diffident but I cannot understand his utter want of success; as an old & valued friend of mine I have a very high regard for him.9

My Father is very well again & very active deeply interested in you & your work, but overwhelmed with correspondence Harvey is hard at work on the Australian Phycologia10 & Cape Flora.11 Sonder does certain orders & not at all I fear in the same style as Harvey does his. Archer sailed for Tasmania a month ago — We shall miss him very much here.12

I have written to Berkeley about your Fungi. — many were I know studied by him when doing the Tasmanian.13

With regard to Capsella I have always felt disposed to keep C. Bursa as the only species & let Hutchinsia have seeds of both kinds, but it is quite a matter of choice.

I sent proof sheets of the Indian Australian plants14 — but you will see by my note that it does not pretend to absolute accuracy.

Ever most sincerely yrs

Jos D Hooker



Campynema linearis

Capsella Bursa


Ceratochloa unioloides



Viscum articulatum


M to W. Hooker, 15 November 1858.
M had independently recognized that the specimen he had sent was probably a Viscum, see M to W. Hooker, 11 July 1859.
B62.02.01. M sent partial page proofs of this work to various people.
Possibly M to J. Hooker, 15 October 1859.
Allan Black.
J. Hooker (1855-60).
J. Hooker (1858).
See M to F. Adamson, 8 June 1858 (in this edition as 58-06-08a) and M to W. Hooker, 14 June 1858.
Harvey (1858-63).
Harvey & Sonder (1860-5).
William Archer spent 1856-8 in England to work up his plants at Kew.
See also M to M. Berkeley, 16 November 1857.
The proof sheets have not been found.

Please cite as “FVM-59-12-26,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,