From George Bentham   14 July 1862

Kew London W

July 14 1862

My dear Sir,

Two days ago I dispatched to the Kew Garden agent to be shipped per Norfolk for Melbourne your first box, into which — as it came far from full, I have been able to put besides the Orders it originally contained the Pittosporeae also. I have had it properly soldered up with a new top and I trust you will receive it all safe. There were a very few (about half a dozen) species of which your specimens allowed Dr Hooker to keep fragments to represent species which we had not already and I have inserted in the parcels several which you had not — the Ranunculus Robertsoni I wrote to you about1 and a few W. Australian or N.E. plants Unfortunately although in the Hookerian herbarium there are very fine and rich sets of these specimens they being all glued down it is always difficult and often impossible to take off fragments — and Sir William's Australian duplicates are now very much reduced but we have done our best.

Your box per Dover Castle with the Rutaceae and Violaceae has just arrived safe.

In finishing the baccate Pittosporeae I find that I have to correct some points in our Genera2 — that portion was printed off before the sheet of your Victoria Plants3 containing that Order reached us — for those sheets come very irregularly — and I had not sufficiently examined Pronayae, and had not seen the fruit of Cheiranthera. Although I quite agree in transferring to Billardiera the short anthered Pronayas still I think the genus must be kept up for the P. elegans with its much more spreading corolla and long recurved anthers. P. Huegeliana and Marianthus coelestis Putterl4 (not the plant you had taken for it) prove both to be Billard variifolia5 DC a common K G S6 plant. In short Putterlick made a great mess of the Pittosporeae7

Next to Pittosporeae come Tremandreae and Polygaleae both of which I have done subject to revision when your specimens come, I hesitate to go quite so far as you do in the union of Tetrathecas into T. pilosa It appears to me that among the hirsute-seeded species there are three sets T. juncea and affinis with winged or angular almost leafless stems and superposed ovules T. ciliata thymifolia and ericifolia with the leaves mostly verticillate long pedic[els] and superposed ovules and T glandulosa pilosa8 and procumbens with the leaves rarely verticillate short pedicels and single ovules or rarely a second collateral abortive one. It appears to me also that thymifolia is as distinct from ericifolia as from ciliata and that glandulosa is too constant to be united with pilosa9 As to procumbens including Gunniana10 I have doubts whether to call it a marked small flowered variety or a species Of Western forms with glabrous smooth and shining seeds I think I must admit the species Platytheca with one species and Tremandra with two, all of which I have in very good flower and fruit must be retained

Of Polygala we have 7 species your P. veronicea as you say must be reduced to P. japonica although the latter sometimes looks different having longer flowers etc yet some Khasia specimens are precisely similar we have also from tropical Australia P. leptalea DC & P. arvensis Willd — besides that your P. eriocephala and P. Brownii,11 2 unnamed ones among yours and one of Cunningham and Travers are very distinct.

In Comesperma the arrangement of the petals (which I did not perceive in examining C. volubilis for Gen. Pl.12 which comes nearer to Polygala) is peculiar and separates the genus as well from Polygala as from Bredemeyera (my Catocoma) the lateral petals are adnate to the staminal tube independently of the carina almost as in Monnina13 and in several species are overlapped by the edges of the carina. As to species I shall follow you generally although I have some doubts about uniting sylvestre with retusum and I do not yet recognise your C. spinosum and C. defoliatum which must wait till your specimens arrive I have not yet seen Brown's Polygaleae as Bennett is out of town.14

I have worked up Stackhousieae which DC puts into the volume of the Prodromus now printing15 — They have been more messed than any other genus I cannot admit Tripterococcus as a genus for T. spathulatus is much more closely allied to S. monogyna than to T. Brunonis which I call S. Brunonis and includes the three Western supposed species which in our numerous specimens run into one another16 — I think that Labillardiere must have got hold of the fruit of S. spathulata Sieb. in describing and figuring that of S. monogyna as angulate-cristate.17

In Frankeniaceae I have three or four very distinct Western ones I think you are right in uniting the common Australian ones into one — but I doubt much if any European botanist would admit it into the Northern F. laevis (including F. hirsuta, F. Nothria etc) and I think we must adopt for the present F. pauciflora DC

I have just begun Caryophylleae Gypsophila tubulosa like Alyssum linifolium is a curious puzzle as to how it got there — It is always quite distinct in my opinion from G. muralis — I have from Drummond a very curious annual — something like G. tubulosa in habit but a very distinct species of Drymonia having no affinity to any other except a slight one to two New-Mexican species.

By the time I can get your answer to this I hope the volume will be far advanced and would beg to know 1st What adjunct you wish to put to your name in the title. I suppose F R S Govt Botanist to the Colony of Victoria — but anything else you wish.

2nd what can I say in a few words about those collectors who have been supplying you with Australian plants such as Maxwell Oldfield Beckler &c — and also give me some general sketch of your own herbarisations in various parts of Australia for although I cannot give the general preliminary discourse till I come to the last volume (if I live long enough) I must with the first give a short sketch of what has been done in the Botany of Australia from its first discovery and of the sources from whence the materials of the Flora are derived18

Unless I have anything particular to say I may not write by the next two mails. I have now been working without interruption eight hours a day since the middle of October and the Genera Plantarum has been hard work and on the 4th or 5th of next month I leave town to pay some visits of a few weeks in the country and shall not be back to work till the end of September when the completion of the 1st vol of the Flora will take the precedence of everything else I trust I shall then have received the rest of your plants down to Connaraceae.

The publication of the first part of our genera has been a little delayed partly for the index which is not quite all printed off yet partly on account of Dr Hooker's momentary absence — he returns next week and we shall have the part out before I leave town It is about 450 pages very large octavo and small type The expenses are so heavy that we have been obliged to fix the selling price at a guinea — It will be sold for us by W Black at the Hookerian Herbarium Kew, by Pamplin, by Reeve and by Williams and Norgate. We shall send you a copy — but I hope you may get a few copies ordered by public libraries or by any persons who may interest themselves in botany in your Colony.

I enclose a photograph I had made when last at Paris19

Ever yours very sincerely

George Bentham


Dr Ferd Mueller


Alyssum linifolium

Billardiera variifolia






Comesperma defoliatum

Comesperma retusum

Comesperma spinosum

Comesperma sylvestre

Comesperma volubilis


Frankenia hirsuta


Frankenia laevis

Frankenia Nothria

Frankenia pauciflora

Gypsophila muralis

Gypsophila tubulosa

Marianthus coelestis




Polygala arvensis

Polygala Brownii

Polygala eriocephala

Polygala japonica

Polygala leptalea

Polygala veronicea


Pronaya elegans

Pronaya Huegeliana

Ranunculus Robertsoni


Stackhousia monogyna

Stackhousia spathulata


Tetratheca affinis

Tetratheca ciliata

Tetratheca ericifolia

Tetratheca glandulosa

Tetratheca Gunniana

Tetratheca juncea

Tetratheca pilosa

Tetratheca procumbens

Tetratheca thymifolia



Tripterococcus Brunonis

Tripterococcus spathulatus


See G. Bentham to M, 19 May 1862.
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1.
B62.03.03, pp. 71-81.
Putterlick (1839), p. 23.
Billardiera variifolia.
King George Sound, WA.
Bentham incorporated some of his conclusions about the generic limits discussed here and in the remainder of the letter in 'Addenda et corrigenda' in Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1, pp 435-9.
(vide Steetz) F.M.) interlined in pencil by M.
(vide Specim) interlined in pencil by M.
Tetratheca gunnii?
M distributed specimens as P. brownii, but Bentham determined it as P. rhinanthoides, Solander's herbarium name in the collections of Robert Brown (Bentham (1883-78), vol. 1, p. 140; see herbarium specimen at Kew, K000279779. See also specimen at Trinity College Dublin, TCD0010095).
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1, p. 138, corrected p. 974.
(vide Steetz in Lehm pl Preiss F.M.) interlined in pencil by M.
Robert Brown’s collection was at the British Museum.
Bentham (1864b).
(note!) interlined in pencil by M.
(id est) added in pencil by M.
See M to G. Bentham, 24 September 1862, for M’s notes, which were used in the Preface to vol. 1 of Bentham (1863-78).
Photograph not found.

Please cite as “FVM-62-07-14,” 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,