To George Bentham1    24 July 1862

Melbourne bot.Garden,

24 July 1862

My very dear Sir.

I am in possession of your very kind letters dated ,2 and am glad to learn, that your & Dr Hookers important work on the genera plantarum3 is so rapidly striding forward. It will for ever be a boon to the botanical world, because it may be long before any authors will be able to bring to bear on such an undertaking that amount of experience which you possess, and indeed I believe you will not leave very much to do for others here after, because the discovery of really striking new genera becomes rarer from day to day & after all except in Central Africa very few localities, holding out hopes for remarkable new generic forms, remain to be explored.

I find this fact born out by my friends or collectors, who have in their contributions now only a very small percentage of new species & seldom any very remarkable genera.

I am about to resume the publication of my "plants of Victoria" in order to have always the material worked up, as far as Victoria is concerned, before I send it to you. I cannot do otherwise, because if by an accident any sendings on these long sea-voyages were lost, what should I do for my flora of Victoria, for which the material is nowhere else exstant and which to collect again would require many years travels, for which I have now no leisure and perhaps not sufficient bodily strenght But as your genera plantarum will cost you much time I anticipate you will leave me sufficient time always [as] to proceed with care & circumspection in the elaboration of the Victorian plants. It would be a pity, if I was required to hurry over the work. When once the Calyciflorae are done, we will have comparatively easy work, relying on the completer latter volumes of D.C.4 & on RBr. prodromus5 as safe foundations of our own labours. — I propose to divide the Victorian Calyciflorae into 3 small volumes.6

One of these will contain the following orders: Portulaceae, Ficoideae, Crassulaceae, Saxifrageae, Lythraceae Onagreae, Halorageae, Ceratophylleae, Callitrichineae, Euphorbiaceae, Stackhousiaceae, Celastrineae, Rhamneae, Rosaceae & Myrtaceae; this will be the sequence & these orders will comprise approximately 160 sp.

An other volume will be devoted exclusively to Leguminosae, comprising also about 160 sp This will form a transit from the free-petalled orders to the mostly gamopetalous ones of a third volume, which will comprise: Umbelliferae, Araliaceae, Lorantheae, Caprifoliaceae and Compositae. This will be a large volume especially rich in genera, the Compositae of Victoria even after a rigid & careful reduction will hardly fall short of 200 sp. & the other orders comprising also not less than 60 sp. I do really not know, where to place best our Cucurbitaceae & Passifloreae, especially the former with their truly monopetalous flowers & should be inclined to arrange them with Corolliflorae (also on account of their definite stamens,) were not such an evident concrescence existing of Corolla & Calyx.

But perhaps your genera will be edited in time to shed light on my path. Pray keep well up the genera! it is an infinitely more important work than the Flora Australis.

I regret to learn, that you found larvae in the Gov. Herbarium,7 notwithstanding the great pains I took in cleaning it & keeping it well. Here where insect life is so active throughout the year, it will always be difficult to conserve the herbaria well, & I shall probably dip finally each specimen in a basin with oil of turpentine hereafter. I regard this a better means of protection, than arsenical or hydrargyrical8 solutions, because it covers the plant forever with a slight resinous tegument, formed by the oxydation of the oil, irrespective of the advantage, that such collections are not exhaling vapours highly injurious to health! Insects certainly do not like to bury their ova in substances saturated with turpentine, & by addition of spirits of tar, creosote, petroleum, kerosene or any other preservative oily substance, the impregnation of the specimens may be made still more perfect. I have written at length on the subject, as Treviranushas made it the subject of a lecture9 & Lenormand writes to me also on the effect of his sulfurretted Carbon for the same purpose.10 I believe you would find my method good at Kew. By having two shallow vessels, the one may serve for dipping, the other might be placed slightly on a decline, so that from a wire netting the superabundance of the oil of turpentine may flow off & back to the dipping vessel. It requires of course pressure of the specimens in blotting paper afterwards, so that they may not soil the cartridge paper of the herbarium. Their colour does not suffer I have forwarded to you on the 3 of this month 2 large boxes pr "Kent" They contain the rest of the Thalamiflorae except Sapindaceae & Portulaceae.11

It was my intention to have kept back the Sapindaceae, until I would enjoy the advantage of consulting your genera. But I rather send them off at once, in order that no delay may occur, as you can readily transfer them to their respective genera from the diagnoses furnished. Be so kind to quote no synonyms even if printed in any of my catalogues, unless established by a printed diagnosis. It withdraws from the dignity of the work to enumerate such ephemerous quotations, the systematic being indeed already burdened enough with multiplications of names.12

I hope that your next letters will announce the safe arrival of the Rutaceae! It is perhaps the gem of my collections, consisting of a magnificent series of forms of these lovely plants. I tremble for their safety, as I have entrusted them to a private channel (altho an excellent one), they being sent without bill of loading under care of the Surgeon of the "Dovre 13 Castle" Dr Thomson. I wrote however simultaneously to Sir Will Hooker of Kew, announcing their shipment under the above circumstances.14

The addition of a n.g. of Menispermeae to the Austr. flora through my collections has pleased me much! I certainly did only look at it without entering into an analysis, thus I passed it as Pachygone.15

In the consignment sent pr "Kent" you receive all the addenda up to date for Thalamiflorae. I will keep up Supplemental notes as far as possible from any new material, that may come in. I regret to say, that I have not as yet had time to extract the localities from my diaries, whereby the habitats would have been much augmented. I felt that I had to interrupt my literary work for a while & to confine my attention to the correspondence of this very large Department and its many harrassing duties at this season of the year, when we have to provide plants for the gardens & reserves of public institutions throughout the colony & when so much new work is under progress. Had I done more, my health would have given way entirely. I have however as you will see advanced the fragmenta to the 19 Number.16 I have also drawn up an enumeration of the plants collected in Stuarts 2 last expeditions and on those of FrGregory from N.W. Australia. I shall probably send them to Balfour.17 I have also begun to publish or rather print the large folio-plates of the Eucalypti for my monograph.18 They may therefore be quoted in the Flora already. I have in vain endeavoured to bring the australian Sapindaceae allied to Cupania & Nephelium into the more recent genera. The limits of all the genera of Blume seem to me artificial. But without examining the Extra Australian Sapindaceae extensively no one can arrive at satisfactory conclusions in regard to the generic distinctions of these plants The 5 species, of which I forwarded manuscript names are nowhere published as yet by myself,19 and you will observe the descriptions are drawn up from incomplete material. The material of the various Sapindaceae described in my publications has in general been good and I believe you will be pleased with the collection, especially as it represents so many noble trees.

The arillus is subject to much variation. In the two Harpuliae for instance it is small & scutellar in one & large & perfectly enveloping the seed in an other. I anticipate that you will have restored Nephelium & Cupania with large subgenera & into these most of my plants will go then.

Of Euodia I have 6 species E. pentacocca, neurococca, micrococca, erythrococca, Cunninghami, octandra. The aestivation whether valvate or intricate will not distinguish these genera, nor the number of stamens, which varies from 4-10 in the genus, altho' it is constant in the species, or nearly so. Acradenia I draw also to Euodia.

To Dr Hookers list of Indo Australian plants20 very many have yet to be added. So I find we have Crotalaria ramosissima & Cassia pumila. The Crotalariae have even in W. & A.21 yet to be much reduced. It is much to be regretted I had not their golden prodromus with me in N. Australia, as it would have facilitated the study of the Indo-Australian species. That the sum of £100 - "- " for your Flora is available at the Colonial Agent of Victoria in London for you, you will have learnt from my letter by last mail.22

The Hibisci are extremely variable! There is little to separate H. multifidus & Pinonianus except perhaps the stigma. Fugosia as a genus is of course quite untenable.23

You will kindly observe that I have altered the names of the Seringeas. I leave only the old typical species in the genus & draw the rest to Kerandrenia, which mainly differs in habit, & requires great alteration in definition.

That Pentadynamis is a true Crotalaria you will have observe[d.] Strange that the dimorphous state of the anthers of all typical Crotalariae remained so long overlooked.

I have forwarded for your aid some citata index to Sir Will Hooker.24

Mount Lapeyrouse is in Tasmania. Sealers cove on the peninsula of Wilsons promontory25 Is the genus Allophyllus to be reestablished? If so we have, it seems, Australian species.

I should have many things yet to communicate, were I not transgressing both your & my leisure

Ever regardfully


Ferd Mueller








Cassia pumila






Crotalaria ramosissima




Euodia Cunninghami

Euodia erythrococca

Euodia micrococca

Euodia octandra

Euodia pentacocca






Hibiscus multifidus

Hibiscus Pinonianus






















MS black-edged; M's sister Bertha died on 7 September 1861. The addressee is deduced from the reference to Bentham & Hooker (1862-83). Some pages of the MS are numbered, probably by M, but these numbers are omitted here.
There is a blank space in the MS. Topics discussed in this letter were included in G. Bentham to M, 19 May 1862 and 24 May 1862 (see below).
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83).
A. P. de Candolle (1824-73).
Brown (1810).
The planned volumes were never published.
See G. Bentham to M, 19 May 1862.
i.e. solutions of salts of mercury.
Treviranus (1861), a lecture presented on 8 October 1861.
Letter not found.
See M to W. Hooker, 4 July 1862.
See Lucas (1995).
M reiterated the point in numerous letters: see M to W. Hooker, 24 April 1862 and 24 June 1862; M to J. Hooker, 22 June 1862; M to G. Bentham, 23 May 1862.
See G. Bentham to M, 24 May 1862, where Bentham reported erecting the genus Microclisia (Bentham and Hooker [1862-83], vol. 1, p. 435). Bentham retained the plant within Pachygone in Bentham (1863-78), vol.1, p. 58, without citing his earlier genus in synonymy, although indicating his uncertainty by listing the species as ' P. (?) pubescens '.
cf. M to W. Hooker, 24 May 1862. See B63.13.03.
The plates were not published at this time.
Manuscripts containing the names have not been found. Bentham named 9 species of Sapindaceous genera using M's herbarium names; seeBentham (1863-78), vol. 1, pp 451-88.
J. Hooker (1855-60), vol. 1, pp. xlii-xlix.
Wight & Arnott (1834).
See M to G. Bentham, 24 June 1862.
Bentham discussed these points at length in G. Bentham to M, 8 October 1862.
See M to W. Hooker, 25 July 1861 (in this edition as 61-07-25a) for reference to B59.13.03; an index to the first two volumes of Fragmenta was published in B61.13.07, but no mention of separate copies of these indexes having been forwarded to W. Hooker has been found.
See G. Bentham to M, 24 May 1862 .

Please cite as “FVM-62-07-24a,” 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 24 May 2024,