To George Bentham   29 January 1870



Since last writing to you, dear Mr Bentham, I have examined most of the Austr. Liliaceae, and thereby a good deal of new knowledge is gained.1 Endlichers Thysanotus micranthus belongs not to the genus, but is identical with [my] Caesia (Corynotheca) [d]ichotoma; Caesia corymbosa & C. spiralis form at least a section, as Dr Hooker indicated, if not a genus, to which the name Chamaescilla might be given. I find over a dozen ovules in each of the cells occasionally. In working on Anguillaria, I compared the allied Extraaustr. genera, and accept with As. Gray & Torrey2 Melanthium for the Virginian & Sibirian plants, bringing the Cape Melanthiums to Anguillaria, from which they only differ in deciduous sepals, A. australis namely (only 1 sp. in all Austr) having a persistent calyx, contrary to RBr's definition. Iphigenia is more closely allied to Ornithoglossum in the presense of pedicels, bracteoles & other respects. Androcymbium has at least in A eucomoides a persisitent calyx, altho' Kunth says it is deciduous.3 Iphigenia has the normal extrorse anthers, altho' Kunth founded his genus chiefly on the supposed introrse anthers; and so I had endless errors & misunderstandings to clear up. This all will render your own final researches far less labourious. RBr's & Miquels Smilax species are reducible to 2, but I have a new third one. The aestivation is very important in all genera.

A sad mishap has befallen a portion of the Euphorbiaceae. Prof Baillon had since a good while a great supplemental lot, which was to have gone to you after examination. Before however my order to this effect reached Mons. Ramel of Paris,4 the latter had shipped the whole in the Royal Standard, which steamer was totally lost at the Brazilian Coast.5 I hope Prof Baillon did work out all the species before he returned them. My genus Dissiliaria is described from this lot in the Adansonia,6 also the bisexual flower of Coelebogyne.7 So you see, my dear Sir, my dread of one or the other portion of the collection being likely to be lost in these long sea-voyages proved but too well founded.

I have just read your admirable adress to the Linneans with great pleasure.8

As soon as I have done the Monocotyledoneae I intend to publish a special volume of abridged diagnoses on Victorian plants & let this volume be followed by a volume for each Austral Colony. At least the Victorian volume will have wood cuts, which to commence I have just made arrangements. The plan of these separate solitary volumes for each colony wil be so different to that of your work; that no clashing interests can arise.9

It was with much regret, that I heard of your rheumatic sufferings, from which, I trust, you fully recovered.

Always with deep regard your

Ferd von Mueller


Salsolaceae with all their desert-forms will have become a singular assemblage. I looked always well after them, when myself in the field, but sheep are apt to eat them down.

A large box full of supplemental Monochlamydeae is all but ready.


Anguillaria australis

Caesia corymbosa

Caesia dichotoma

Caesia spiralis













Thysanotus micranthus

As was his usual practice, M published the results of his analysis (see B70.01.01, pp. 64-80) before Bentham undertook his review for Bentham (1863-78); see Lucas (2003).
Gray (1842), pp 26-7: Torrey (1843), vol. 2, p. 316.
Kunth (1833-50), vol. 4, p. 152.
Letter not found.
Accounts of the wreck of the Royal standard appear in the London Times in the week beginning 15 November 1869.
Baillon (1867), p. 356-60. Baillon cited M's herbarium, thus the specimen upon which the genus was founded was lost in the wreck.
Presumably M's specimen that Baillon (1866), p. 321, indicates that he has seen.
Bentham (1868/69).
For issues concerning B79.06.04, the volume fitting this description, see Lucas, Maroske & Brown-May (2006), pp. 36-44.

Please cite as “FVM-70-01-29a,” 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,