From George Bentham   24 March 1862


March 24 1862

My dear Sir,

I received last month your letter1 announcing the despatch of the first instalment of your plants but did not reply immediately because I was in the hope of announcing their arrival. The vessel is not however yet here and I will not allow another mail pass without thanking you for all you say as well as for yours of the 24th Jany2 which I received two days ago. I shall take care to attend to and consider well all your suggestions and if I do not discuss them at length with you it is that really I cannot find time for long letters. The seeing our Genera Plantarum3 through the press the enormous amount of examination of plants and reference to books it entails the detailed examination of every species for the Australian Flora and numbers of minor botanical papers & affairs I have to attend to completely absorb my days and after working 5½ hours every day at Kew and 2½ hours at home I find that if I were not to give myself up in the evenings to quiet or social enjoyment but were to set to writing letters my health, good as it is, would at my age, suffer for it. With regard to the Australian Flora, with the exception of Dilleniaceae, Anonaceae & Menispermeae which I have finished as far as I can till your specimens come, I have chiefly been occupied with examination of generic characters so as to serve at the same time for Genera Plantarum and the Flora, and I am at the moment working up Rhamneae in detail for the characters in that order are so trifling and often so uncertain that every species must be carefully examined before the proposed genera can be proved. Pomaderris for instance is a very good genus but the characters for distinguishing it from Trymalium and Cryptandra do not consist in the peculiar dehiscence of the cocci which is not in some species which must be considered as true Pomaderris. As soon as I have done Rhamneae and your specimens come I shall go regularly through the Flora beginning at the beginning and when not taken away by other matters I find I can readily get through 30 or 40 species a week.

As to the limits of genera and species the longer I live — and I have now worked at them for eight and thirty years the more I see how little fixity there is in them and how impossible it is that botanists views should agree upon them. In writing a systematic work one must make up ones mind on the spot — often upon insufficient material and often one must take into consideration the opinions of others against ones own[.] I say this because it is inevitable that on many occasions I may unite or separate species in a manner you may not approve just as in other works I have published botanists whose opinions I value more than my own disagree from the conclusions I have come to. Therefore it is that I have always declined joint works, unless as in the case of Dr Hooker I can daily and constantly discuss with him. I am anxious to give every credit to those who kindly assist me and in the Australian Flora I am particularly desirous that you should be satisfied with what I say on the subject, but I expressly wish to have the sole responsibility and that neither you nor any one else should be committed by what I do.

The Lagunaria you sent was a very interesting addition to the Australian Flora On comparison however I cannot consider it as identical with the Norfolk Island one although nearly allied to it.4

The peculiar anthers you mention of Hibbertia stellaris (to which belongs H. tenuiramea Steud.) are also observable in two unpublished species of Drummond — in one they are just the same, in the other not quite so short but the same arrangement of cells. The three form a subgroup of Euhibbertia.

I shall write again as soon as your plants arrive5

Ever yours sincerely

George Bentham.


Are you aware that Warburtonia is Hibbertia grossulariaefolia?6






Hibbertia grossulariaefolia

Hibbertia stellaris

Hibbertia tenuiramea







See M to G. Bentham, 24 December 1861.
M to G. Bentham, 24 January 1862.
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1.
See M to G. Bentham, 24 December 1861.
See G. Bentham to M, 18 April 1862.
M had erected Warburtonia in B59.12.02, p 230.

Please cite as “FVM-62-03-24,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 19 June 2024,