To Joseph Hooker1    29 January 1870



Since I last wrote to you, dear Dr Hooker, I had the advantage of receiving your kind sending of Water plants &c pr "George Thompson". All the Nepenthes & Sarracenias died! Can not these things be raised from seeds? I raised the Nepenthes distillatoria from seeds, but then these plants even in free nature do perhaps not readily ripen seeds & certainly never in greenhouses. On the contrary you were most successful in presenting Australia with several new English Water & swamp plants. The strong plants of Caltha & Menyanthes travelled admirably, but Butomus was dead. So perhaps you will kindly try another of this & then also Sagittaria[,] of Lychnis flos cuculi I suppose we might get seeds in the autumn.2 I will get you some more large Todeas out of the ranges at the end of the summer, when the vallies are traversable. You can then present them to those of your friends, with whom you interchange & thus I suppose I can for the present best serve you.3

Vaccinium Myrtillus dug out with a ball travels well. I had it once from Dr Sonder, but lost it. If I can ever get it again, I will take it to a cold forest valley among the fern trees, to let it naturalize itself there, like the great American Blackberry, which I disemminated on my track, when I ascended (as the first human being) Mt Baw Baw & discovered the sources of the Yarra. They are now in full bearing.

Todeas of large size undoubtedly exist in S. Africa, but it is necessary to go for them into the deepest darkest & coolest recesses of the ranges. Elsewhere here also they are small like at the Tablemount.

I have lately worked on Melanthaceae & other Liliaceae & hope to send you the printed notes by this mail.4 Embryo & aestivation had not yet been sufficiently observed.

Is Rheum palmatum obtainable at Kew. I lost my plant in the great drought. Perhaps you have seeds.

Baillons genus Bouchardetia (Adanasonia) 5 seems referable as a second species to my Pagetia. —

The Kew photograms are superb! Many thanks! also for those from Mr King.6 I will send others. I employ now as a commencement iron edgings in the garden to save labor.

Always your

Ferd von Mueller7


Please put into one of the cases a sample of the roof glass of your conservatories8

I wonder whether an estimate of the age of the large Todeas can be formed. I believe them several centuries old, but still I may be wrong.

One ought to weigh or measure one every ten years and see what excess to size or the weight was gained.







Lychnis flos cuculi



Nepenthes distillatoria


Rheum palmatum




Vaccinium Myrtillus

MS annotation: 'Answed [May] 16'. The reference may be to J. Hooker to M, 14 May 1870, of which only a very brief summary by Charles Daley now exists.
Lychnis and Butomus are each marked with a cross in the margin.
Hooker had apparently offered to try to get a Todea for John Booth, nurseryman of Flottbeck, who wrote, 'That you will be so kind in giving me in exchange such wonders as Todea barbara will only encourage me … [to] deal most liberally with you' (J. Booth to J. Hooker, 19 February 1870; RBG Kew, Directors' Correspondence, vol 139, f. 47).
B70-01-01; Liliaceae are discussed pp 64-80, with the Melanthaceae (Melanthiaceae) on pp 76-7.
Bouchardatia? Adansonia? (The latter is the name of the journal within which Baillon erected the genus).
See J. Hooker to M, 10 September and 24 November 1869.
The postscript paragraphs are written in the margins of the letter.
Please … conservatories. is marked with a cross in the margin.

Please cite as “FVM-70-01-29,” 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 3 July 2022,