To George Bentham   20 March 1870

Melbourne bot Garden



It is very pleasing to learn, dear Mr Bentham, that you in so wonderfully rapid strides proceed with the work on Austr. plants. My mind has been much distracted during the last 4 months by the encroachment on my position,1 so much so that if even occasionally some leisure hour would have allowed me to work on plants, I was utterly unable to collect my thoughts for any steady work. Some new prospects however now brighten my hopes, and I have reason to trust, that I shall finally over come my difficulties and reestablish my administration in its entirety, such as it has been for the last 13 years.

The passage in your last letter, in which you so feelingly sympathize with me,2 I have read to several influential friends, and it has been to me a great support in this now critical period of my troubles. No one in England would be subjected to such anxieties as I have been, as no fault whatever in my zealous and disinterested administration can be shown.

I have sorted all the Glumaceae lately and done something towards their systematic. But it requires much patient research to do full justice to these kind of plants.

Mr Dallachys plants, as you remark,3 are always, or at least often instructive and frequently completer than those of other collectors. But I wish to point out in justice to others, that no one ever in Australia enjoyed such facilities to explore a jungle district, than Mr Dallachy. He is now half a dozen years quietly and purposely settled at Rockingham's Bay and his plants cost me from that district alone over one thousand pounds sterling! He has nothing in the world else to do, then to collect, as he is a kind of pensioner of my department. As he is no botanist in the true sense of the word, he incurs no loss of time in any minute examinations. Besides he is stationary at Rockingham's Bay, has a cottage to dry and keep his collections in, and commands the sea-port & the dense forest in one hours walk.

Look how I was placed for years. Sleeping under the canopy of heaven, I had to shelter myself and my plants with a bid4 of light calico, and often to carry my collections for thousands of miles on pack horses! Passing through a country I could only take a few specimens of any plant just as I found it at a time, while Mr Dallachy could comfortably watch the same trees for years, until he finally found flowers & fruits of most. I have ordered him to move to Cape York. Let us not discourage amateur collectors like Bowman, O'Shanesy &c, who first must toil for their daily bread, in cattle driving or gardening &c, & who deserve far higher praise for what they do without remuneration and under great difficulty, than what a paid collector carries out as his daily routine work and under special local advantages.

Your disposal of the Laurineae will be very interesting. So RBrown species are tripled.5

How do the "genera" go on? We all look eagerly forward to the continuation of this most important work.6

Mr Baker has never yet given me any opinion of his on a supposed new Lomaria or Acrostichum, sent to him many months ago for identification.

Always your

very regardful

Ferd. von Mueller


O'Shanesy has now also sent Ganophyllum falcatum in flower & fruit from Rockhampton. My notes [on] this & Euroschinus falcatus prove quite correct.

I have a new genus (Porophyllum) of Araliaceae near Myodocarpus and Delarbrea.7

Your sympathizing note in reference to my position at this garden from your last kind letter made a great impression on our prime Minister and several other leading Politicians. It came very opportune at this critical time & so also a very sympathizing letter from Mr Edw Wilson8

In the thousands of letters written to Dallachy I always directed him to what flowers & what fruits in each special wanting case to look!9

An other assignment from Arnhems Land (Port Darwin) has arrived. it contains a few plants, not before in my collection, D[ime]ria, Gnetum, a new Indigofera, Myrsine, Isachne, Eugenia &c








Ganophyllum falcatum










See M to J. MacPherson, 29 September 1869.
G. Bentham to M, 20 January 1870: 'I was most concerned to see in your letter to Dr Hooker that you had been subjected to annoyance in the attempt to place your botanic garden in other hands. I trust that the intention will not be carried out. In the interest of science that is your place, and it seems to me that it would be as unwise as unfair to take it from you'.
Bentham in the same letter had remarked that Dallachy's specimens were 'most satisfactory', see G. Bentham to M, 20 January 1870.
G. Bentham to M, 20 January 1870.
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83).
J. C. Willis (1973) lists Porophyllum, but not as a genus erected by M. M erected an Araliaceous genus Porospermum (P. michieanum) in B70.04.01, p. 95.
Letter not found.
Letters not found.

Please cite as “FVM-70-03-20,” 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 23 March 2023,