To Joseph Hooker1    4 December 1869



I am very much pleased, dear Dr Hooker, that the ponderous Todea reached Kew in safety and was so welcome to you.2 It is certainly an attractive feature in any fern-collection & a singularly peculiar one too. The tender Hymenophylla can be well grown on the stems, and Chiloglottis Gunnii is prone to nest in it. No vernacular name exists for this fern, but in my Exhibition Essays & other writings I called this large Todea the "Square fern", its stem being often as broad as high. I can send you several yet of similar size, if you can utilize them for interchanges. We have adopted here sawdust for packing ferntrees, Zamias &c with great success.

I will gladly send you the Alsophilae &c as you desire.3 For the Bromeliae &c I shall feel very deeply indebted and I hope you will succeed also with the transfer of a Dionaea to Australia.

Xanthorrhoea minor wants heath soil. I have no doubt it will push forth its flowers in due time.4

One of your last letters was written by a Lady's hand. I suppose it is written by an accomplished daughter of yours or by the learned Mrs Hooker.5

The palms from Lord Howe's Island are all Kentias, as far as I can see from the scanty material at present & to this genus Blume already many years ago referred Areca sapida. I overlooked this when I wrote my sketch of the vegetation of the Chatham Islands.6

Many thanks for the photograms from Kew. You must produce a marvellous effect by the varied Tropical vegetation in your expansive houses.7

The plants pr Essex came mostly in excellent condition and the majority is new to Australian Horticulture So I feel truly grateful for them

I have asked Mr Baker to compare kindly one or two ferns in your great storehouse of dried plants8

With kindest regards

Ferd. von Mueller.



It was intended to encroach on my administrative position; but I defended my dignity & have been, as far as yet apparent, completely victorious.9



Areca sapida


Chiloglottis Gunnii





Xanthorrhoea minor


MS annotation: 'And March 2[9]'. See J. Hooker to M, 28 March 1870 (in this edition as 70-03-28b).
See J. Hooker to M, 10 September 1869.
But see J. Hooker to M, 14 May 1869.
A specimen sent by M ‘some years ago’ flowered at Kew in February 1877 and was figured in Hooker (1877), t. 6297.
All the surviving letters from this period are in Joseph Hooker's hand.
B64.13.02, p. 55.
See J. Hooker to M, 10 September 1869.
Request not found.
Hooker thought that M was unfit for the practical working of the Botanic Garden and that 'he would be wiser to [have] a skilled Superintendent to direct the practical Horticulture' (J. Hooker to H. Barkly, 17 March 1870,  RBG Kew, archives, Letters from Joseph Hooker, vol. Ada-Bar, ff. 180-3 (MS is a typescript copy of unknown provenance).

Please cite as “FVM-69-12-04a,” 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 February 2024,