From George Bentham   18 October 1874



Oct 18 /74

My dear Sir

I write chiefly to express my sincere regret that I am unable just yet to set about the 7th & last vol of my Flora.1 I find it necessary first to complete the new part of our Genera and this takes me longer than I expected I have had to remodel not only the tribes but many of the genera of Apocyneae Asclepiadeae and Gentianeae and the detailed examination of the Asclepiadeae especially has been very long and tedious. I shall now proceed more rapidly as the subsequent Orders have been more recently and in general more satisfactorily worked I have also been twice absent — once for a month in spring to attend the meeting at Florence and again for nearly a fortnight in August for the British Association meeting at Belfast2 Otherwise I have steadily worked on for eight hours a day and hope to continue through the winter — and to allow nothing but this part of the Genera to interfere with the completion of the Flora.

The Kew garden authorities have agreed to prepay the return cases of your plants of which you had prepaid the carriage out3

There will be no occasion to change the name of Browns Baxteria4 Harrisonia Hook to which Reichenbach gives that name is absolutely congeneric with the American urceolate Marsdenias In this genus there is a very gradual passage from the rotate to the campanulate urceolate and hypocrateriform corolla no definite line indeed can be drawn between Marsdenia and Stephanotis and I am obliged to draw a purely artificial and arbitrary line of distinction amongst the American especially the Cuban species — Harrisonia remains in Marsdenia5

The bracteal homology of the glumes and paleae of Gramineae has long been recognised by the majority of botanists and it is now many years since I advocated the necessity of so far modifying the terminology as to give the name of glume to those which are on the axis of the spikelet including the outer palea of most botanists and to limit the term palea to the so called inner palea which is on the axis of the flower I carried out this terminology in my British Handbook and in the Flora Hongkongensis and Hooker has fully adopted it in his Student's Flora and in the 2d edition of Harvey's Cape genera6 — Other botanists still stick to the old way of calling the outer empty glumes sometimes glumes sometimes barren flowers and the flowering glumes sometimes outer paleae sometimes barren flowers, so as often to occasion much confusion especially in the panicoid genera. Several continental botanists have however taken a correct view of the relative homologies of these organs.7

I remain

my dear Sir

Yours very sincerely

George Bentham


Baron F. von Mueller









Bentham (1863-78), vol. 7.
The International Horticultural Exhibition, Florence, May 1874; the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, Belfast, August 1874.
See M to G. Bentham, 17 May 1874.
See M to G. Bentham, 14 July 1874 (in this edition as 74-07-14a).
See Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 2, part 2, p. 772.
Bentham (1858); Bentham (1861a); Hooker (1870); Harvey (1868). Bentham's 'Outlines of Botany, with special reference to local floras' was published as the introduction to most of the colonial floras, including Bentham (1863-78), vol, 1, pp. i-xl. In the latter work, the terminology associated with bracts was discussed in paragraphs 77-83, pp. xi-xii.
Bentham appears to be commenting on M's use of the terminology 'bractea exteriore' and 'bractea interiore' in his descriptions of Panicum spp in B74.03.01, pp.153-5, and B74.03.001, pp. 189-200.

Please cite as “FVM-74-10-18c,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 28 November 2021,