To George Bentham   22 April 1870



As far as sparehours occasionally permit, dear Mr Bentham, I work quietly away on Monocotyledoneae, preparatory for your work, but these sparehours are and have been much diminished in number through the ordeal, through which I am passing so cruelly and undeservedly in my department. Could I have foreseen recent treatments & the behaviour to me on a former occasion, I would and could never have thought of accepting such an appointment, but after 17 years work in the Department (and how have I worked!) and after spending all my private property in it, I cannot sever myelf from it without utter ruin. There is some hope, however, that I will come like a Phoenix out of the ashes.

Mr Moore has sent some more Lord Howes Island plants. Carmichaelia, Calophyllum & some others are interesting. There is also a new probably scrophularinous plant among them, which some early day I must examine. Zanthoxylon does not agree with Z. Blackburnia & I have named it as a new species & will introduce it into the new number of the fragmenta with a few other notes on Xanthoxyleae. In examining the Palms I have ventured to unite the Veitchias, of which one occurs in Howes Island with Kentia.1 If it is to be kept apart, then also a new genus on one or two other of the Palms of that isle must be formed, to which the name Europhoenix2 might be given. I communicated with Wendland on the subject.3 From the Liverpool River I have a new very tall Palm, a new Kentia.4

To the new pages of the Flora of Australia I look forward with the utmost interest. I would like to live to see the work finished, but, alas, that is very doubtful, especially if I am treated here with so little consideration. Not that there is a want of general appreciations of my labor, but a few dastardly individuals unscrupously try to mislead public opinion, and an officer like myself, under the Civil service regulations is prevented to defend himself! The reports of the Department are hardly ever read, not even in Europe. Hence in not a single public European journal seen by me is the slightest notice taken of my Departmental Document of 1869, except by Regel in Petersburg, as far as I have seen.5 Veitch, also when he was here, some years ago, did — perhaps unwittingly — by his journal remarks great injustice and damage to my establishment.6

However I will not further trouble you with these matters; but what little I said will show you, that under almost unparalleled struggles, it is not always in my power to do quite as much for you as I wished. The sorting and comparing of so many thousand specimens for each volume of the flora involves however far more work, than would readily be apparent from its pages.

Fifteen Monimieae in Australia!7 That is glorious.

Trusting you remain well & will take that utmost care of your health, which your age renders imperative I remain

your deeply regardful

Ferd von Mueller


Could Walter Hills new genus of Cycadeae, described in the Gardeners Chronicle8 and not mentioned by Miquel in the Prodromus of DC9 — be perhaps merely Cycas media, which, as pointed out in my report on the Burdekin plants, grows to very great hight10

Drimys Howeana may be Baillon's Drymis crassifolia.

There seems to be no reason whatever to reject my adjective "acuaria" for the new Casuarina.11 I find it in my old latin Lexicon. Far less classic words are used even by Linné for plants: e.g. ranunculosis &c &c12




Casuarina acuaria


Cycas media

Drimys Howeana

Drymis crassifolia







Zanthoxylon Blackburnia

See B70.04.01, p. 101.
Willis (1973) does not list Europhoenix, nor is it listed in Farr, Leussink & Stafleu (1979).
Letter not found.
Presumably Kentia wendlandiana(B70.04.01, p. 102).
The 'Departmental Document' is presumably B69.07.03; it was, however, also published at about the same time, though without comment, in the Journal of botany (B69.07.01). Regel published a very favorable review of M's report in Gartenflora (1870) pp. 61-2. In the copy in the library of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, there is a large tick beside Regel's comment about M: 'Nach den neusten Berichten scheint es, dass seine Verdienste dort nicht die verdiente Anerkennung gefunden haben' [By the latest reports it seems that his merits have not found there the recognition they deserve].
Gardeners' chronicle, 7 April 1866, p. 316. Although the general tone of Veitch's account of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens is positive, the following passage may have been seen, out of context, as damaging: 'The Melbourne Botanic Gardens ... [are] ... under the directorship of Dr Mueller, the celebrated botanist, so well known in Europe in connection with the flora of Australia. The Melbourne Botanic Gardens, like almost everything else [in Melbourne] are in a state of formation; no portion of them can be said to be finished or in order. From this cause they do not present an attractive appearance, and contrast but poorly with those of Sydney.' See Veitch (1866), entry for 1 November 1865.
See G. Bentham to M, 17 February 1870.
Catakidozamia hopei, in Gardeners' chronicle, 25 November 1865, p. 1107.
Miquel must be an error on M's part; de Candolle (1868) himself wrote the section on Cycadaceae in his Prodromus. The treatment of Cycadaceae by Miquel (1861) predated Hill's description.
B60.13.12, p. 18.
M described Casuarina acuaria in B67.07.02, p. 212. Bentham (1863-78), vol. 6, p. 202 accepted the name but cited B67.07.05, p. 16 as the description.
There seems ... ranunculosis &c &c’ are marginal notes on the margins of ff. 431 and 432.

Please cite as “FVM-70-04-22,” 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 March 2023,