To Charles Du Cane   18 March 1870

Melbourne botan. Garden



Having been favored by the Government of Tasmania some years ago with a number of ferntrees for the bot. Garden of Melbourne, I am anxious to show myself grateful on any occasion, which may arise; and I venture therefore to bring under your Excellencys notice, that I could supply in May next a number of plants of Cork Oak, Peru Bark, China Tea, Assam Tea, N. American Hickories, N. American Walnuts and many other utilitarian plants for industrial culture in Tasmania. In the genial clime of your island these plants would thrive admirably; and it occurs to me, that at the Depot of the Prisoners a small plantation of these trees &c might be formed as a nucleus for future extensive culture. The Peru Bark trees will endure no frost, but in ferntree gullies well sheltered these highly valuable plants will prosper, even if the temperature sinks occasionally to near the freezing point.

Should your Excellency and your advisers entertain this proposition, it might be advisable to prepare at once a piece of ground under Mr Abbots able advise for the reception of the plants in Tasman's peninsula, and I would be glad to receive your Excellencys instructions in reference to the sending of the plants early in May.

I have the honor to be,

your very obedient servant

Ferd. von Mueller.


His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania1


Du Cane referred M's letter to the Colonial Secretary, James Wilson, on 26 March 1870. On 13 April, Wilson noted on the file: 'Forwarded to the Hony Secretary of the Royal Society with the view of obtaining information upon the necessary arrangements to be made for the reception of the plants to be presented by Baron von Mueller'. The Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of Tasmania, J. W. Agnew, in turn noted on 19 April 1870: 'Received 19th April and transmitted to the Superintendent of the Public Gardens for his suggestion'.

The Superintendent, Francis Abbott, wrote to Agnew on 9 May: 'It would be very desirable if the valuable plants referred to by Baron Von Mueller could have a fair trial in Tasmania. I have already secured a sufficient number of the various species for the requirements of our own Garden, but as we have not space sufficient to plant more than one or two of each kind, it will be necessary that some other site be selected before planting to any extent could be carried out. ... If the present opportunity of securing the plants offered is not embraced, it may be long ere another occurs, as I know it is Dr Muellers intention to distribute the bulk of the stock this autumn.' (CSD7/28/296, Colonial Secretary's Office, Archives Office of Tasmania, Hobart).

In a letter dated 31 May 1870 that is attached to the Governor's file, the Colonial Secretary wrote to Du Cane:

I have the honor to return Baron von Mueller's letter to Your Excellency, of the 18th March last, offering to supply a number of plants of Cork Oak, Peru Bark, China Tea, Assam Tea &c for industrial culture in this Colony, and having communicated with the Secretary of the Royal Society I am now in a position to state that the supply of the plants indicated will be very thankfully received, and arrangements made for their distribution and culture in suitable localities.

Mr Abbott of the Royal Society's Gardens will in the first instance take charge of the plants, and I have every reason to place entire confidence in his judgment as regards their ultimate disposition.

See also C. Chichester to M, 1 June 1870 (in this edition as 70-06-01a).

Former name for Hobart.

Please cite as “FVM-70-03-18,” 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 28 March 2023,