To George Bentham1    26 August 1862

Melbourne bot.

Garden 26/8/62

My dear Mr Bentham

I am in receipt of your letter, dated 24 June, which arrived by last mail, and am alarmed about the apparent non-arrival of the box with Rutaceae & Violarinae pr Dover Castle; in as much as we had general commercial intelligence of the arrival of this ship in London previous to the departure of the last English mail. You will be aware from my repeated statements,2 that I entrusted this particular consignment to the surgeon of the Dover Castle, Dr Thomson, who volunteered to take charge of it and see it safely conveyed to Kew. It was placed safely into his private cabin on the day of the departure of the ship.

You can readily imagine, that I am in great anxiety about this collection, for there is more danger in such box going astray in England, than being lost by the wreck of a ship; and I shall have to answer for a very responsible thing, if a chasm breaks into our Gov. collection, by the loss of any consignment entrusted to private hands. Pray do me the favor to have made all possible enquiries about this consignment & be so friendly to give every attention to the safe means of receiving the collections and their remissal. I shall not send anything again unless under bill of loading. Should the consignment really have gone amiss, there are three places where it can be 1, in the Custom [shade]. 2, in the Agents Store or 3, in Dr Thomsons care. There is great risk in these transmissions already and I will in future not add to it by placing anything into private hands. I did however point out to Dr Thomson the importance of the collection & he seemed to me a Gentleman, who possessed so much talent & love for the natural sciences, that I did not hesitate to avail myself of his aid in seeing the box away, not so much to save the freight, but because the packing of the Rutaceae was not completed in time to get the box entered in the ships manifest.

I repeat now, what I already mentioned by last mail, that a box with miscell small orders of Thalamiflorae (16 fascicles) was sent pr "Orwell" on the 24 April; then again 2 boxes were sent pr Kent on the 3. July, containing the Malvaceae & a number of other orders in all 37 fascicles, and lastly on the 23 July I forwarded pr Roxburgh Castle all the Sapindaceae & a few other things amounting to 15 fascicles. So you have now in all 123 fasc of Thalamiflorae! & 1 fascicle supplements will be sent by the Great Britain, which will leave next month when I shall forward to you the Rhamneae, Celastrinae, Stackhousiaceae & Terebinthaceae. I shall have these orders worked up for the flora of Victoria previous to my sending them away, so that should unfortunately ever a consignment get wrecked, at least the benefit has been derived from them for the "plants of Victoria[.]"

It is natural, that in working up these plants I hold a general survey of the Extravictorian species for the purpose of studying variation as well of genera as of species. In doing so with the Rhamneae I came to other conclusion, then yours, and likely when you have seen my splendid set of these plants you will modify your views. I have two new sp of Pomaderris from from S.W Australia, allied to P. elliptica, one with linear subulate petals (P. stenopetala); then I have a Crypt[andra] with very elongated filaments from New England & several other species not likely in your reach. To P. elliptica I bring some dozend of synonyms & measuring variation of other species by the same (and I feel [even more]) correct standard, I fear your 75 species will sink to about 40 if not less.3

The new genus Emmenosperma4 will interest you. It is near Alphitonia.

I intend waiting with the publication of the Victorian plants until I have your genera5 and it would be a great boon to me, if you could send me proof sheets of the second volume as they are issued. At last I can send you Urena as an Australian genus.

By last mail I received the volume of the proceedings of the L.S., containing your exquisite remarks on Malvaceae & allied orders.6 I was not previously aware that you had reduced Sturtia, which I on independent observation likewise brought back to Gossypium in the fragmenta.7

By this mail I send you a general chart of Australia completed nearly to Date in our Survey office. If you wish it I can send you one within the next months still more full of details of the recent travelled tracks & could make some manuscript notes to it and this chart might be prefaced to the Australian flora.8 The 20 No. of the Fragmenta9 will be sent by next mail. There are 535 original diagnoses of species in the 1 vol., 332 in the second and about 120 in that portion of the third, which has gone through the press, thus nearly 1000 descriptions

I am much indebted for your kindness of sending me your Presidental Adress, which is replete with truthful practical remarks and in which you have so kindly expressed your self about my humble work on Victorian plants, a judgement which from your authority cannot be otherwise than gratifying.10 I have not attached the same value to the generic characters of Malvaceae as given by yourself. Yet on genera we will ever differ as long as botanical science exists; on species we should not. I regard my malvaceous gen Halothamnus well marked and not combinable with Sida & its subgenera.

I am much interested in your remark about the Cruciferae;11 is the character [on] the 1 or 2 seriate seeds of decisive generic importance? Of the innumerable gradations between Cardamine pratensis J. Hook hirsuta &c in our alps I can only give even in our herbarium a very scanty material for judging. What is Brown Draba pumilio. Is it a Capsella? and what is Sinapis hastata? There is most certainly but one Hymenanthera in VDL12 & Austral. We have it in cultivation & it is common on both coasts & I have often watched the intermediate forms which I could have supplied much more copiously, had it struck me, that there could be any doubt raised to the propriety of uniting the two. If you ever get the Violarinae out of the Dover Castle you will have better material before you[.] You will observe from my recent publication in the fragmenta, that I altered the name of the new genus Leiosporum in Streptothamnus, finding it to belong to Flacourtiaceae when I received flowers and wishing to express by the new name its climbing habit, which seems without parallel in Bixineae.13 Scolopia I published as S. Brownii14 some months back, my attention having long been directed to it by Bennets note in Horsfields pl. jav. rarior.15 I received it recently also from Illawarra.

I am much pleased with your remark, that you will send the boxes back when examination of their contents is closed. As almost daily plants are received by me, it would be well to have the main collection as early as possible at hand again, so that I may work up supplemental species, which to send home it will be too late.

I regard Reisseks Trymalium helianthemifolium (my Pomaderris ligustrina from the Avon) as a mere state of P. phylicifolia (P. polifolia Reissek) in which the carpels are more tardily deoperculated & in which the fruit is more superior. But the plant is like all alpine species vastly variable.

I reduce Acradenia as a subgenus to Euodia.

Is Thylachium truely apetalous?

Alph D Candolle informs me after comparison with original specimens, that I have rightly refered the plants in my herb. to Pigea filiformis DC

Cryptandra amara, C. spinescens, C. sieberi, C. largiflorens, C. nervata & C. alpina I regard all varieties of [one] species.

I conclude these hurriedly written lines with the expression of my highest regards & my best wishes for your health.

Ferd. Mueller






Cardamine hirsuta

Cardamine pratensis



Cryptandra alpina

Cryptandra amara

Cryptandra largiflorens

Cryptandra nervata

Cryptandra sieberi

Cryptandra spinescens

Draba pumilio










Pigea filiformis

Pomaderris elliptica

Pomaderris ligustrina

Pomaderris phylicifolia

Pomaderris polifolia

Pomaderris stenopetala




Scolopia Brownii


Sinapis hastata







Trymalium helianthemifolium




Written on black-edged mourning paper; M's sister Bertha died on 7 September 1861.
See notes to M to J. Hooker, 25 August 1862.
M described Pomaderris stenopetala, P. biaurita and Cryptandra longistaminea in B62.09.01, pp. 69, 73, and 64.
M erected Emmenosperma (E. alphitonoides) in B62.09.01, p. 63.
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1.
Bentham (1862).
As Gossypium sturtiiin B62.04.01, p. 6.
The chart was not included in Flora australiensis.
In his first presidential address to the Linnean Society, Bentham said 'In Australia, Dr. Ferdinand Müller, the eminent Government Botanist of Victoria, has completed the first volume, comprising Thalamiflorae, of an elaborate account, in quarto, of the rich flora of that colony, illustrated by a considerable number of lithographic plates, which do credit to colonial art. This Flora is particularly valuable in showing the views in regard to the consolidation of supposed species entertained by a scientific botanist, working in a great measure upon living specimens.' ( Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, vol. 6, pp. Lxxv-Lxxvi.)
G. Bentham to M, 24 June 1862.
Van Diemen's Land [Tasmania].
M erected Streptothamnus (S. moorei) in B62.05.01, p. 28. No reference is made to an herbarium name of L eiosporum in that entry. See also M to G. Bentham, 23 May 1862. The plant was sent to Kew as Lamprospermum; see G. Bentham to M, 24 June 1862. The sheet with the type specimen of Streptothamnus beckleri at Kew (K000591211) is labelled by M ‘Streptothamnus Beckleri … N.g. Bixinearum | Lamprospermum volubile mihi anteae’ [i.e. my former Lamprospermum volubile]. A second specimen (K000591210) on the same sheet is labelled ' Leiosporum Genera [dubia !] Lamprospermum volubile | ferd Mueller | name suppressed ….' , 'Genera [dubia]’ and ' name suppressed' may not be in M's hand.
B62.04.01, p. 11.
Horsfield, Bennett & Brown (1838-52), pp. 191-2.

Please cite as “FVM-62-08-26a,” 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 20 April 2024,