From George Robinson   16 August 1877



Aug 16th 1877.

Dear Baron v Mueller

In reply to yours of Monday 13 ins2 requesting to learn what are my ideas & experiences in relation to the growth of the Cinchonas in this locality.

In the first place I must mention that the plants you kindly let me have, the half of them I took to a selection that I had in the Dandenong State forest, these survived the first summer but they were neglected as I had so much to do that they became choked with weeds and so I lost them, the rest, (six) I kept at home here near Berwick I planted out in different places in the garden. I lost two of them through the excessive heat in Summer and a third one was injured by a cow getting in the garden, this one never recovered, so that I have only three left, one of these being sheltered from the hot winds has done very well, it is now seven feet 3 inches high and it first came into flower last April and it has continued flowering at intervals through the winter and it seems now, (August) to be still coming on with fresh flower buds, the flowers do not come out all at once but singly, as shown on the specimen enclosed. I do not know if this is its natural manner of flowering or not, or the result of winter flowering. The frost that we have had this winter has not touched or had any effect the tree itself or flowers, although it did two or three times during very severe frosts in past years. I do not think I shall get any seed from the winter flowers but I expect to do so from those that are to come out yet. From this tree at 2 feet from the ground I cut off a small peice of the Cinchona bark this I enclose for you as a small specimen of Colonial grown bark, of course I do not expect it will be rich in Quinin as I think this is not the proper time of the year to strip. The second tree that is also sheltered from the Hot Winds is growing vigorously, but suffered from the late frosts a little. The other tree has been exposed to all weathers from the first, it does not seem to thrive very well that I attribute to my own fault, as I have not attended to it at all in any way. The frosts do not appear to affect it or the hot winds either. From my experience I am quite satisfied that the Cinchona will thrive here almost as well as any other tree that is with ordinary care and attention. I am certain that if my plants had been at all delicate that I should have lost them for I let them take their chance so as to give them a good trial[.]3 I should like to get another supply of Cinchonas, so as to form a small plantation. Should I succeed in saving seed from my Cinchona do you think I could I get them propagated at the houses in the Bot Garden, Melbourne, for I feel certain that if I tried here I would lose them. Wether the cultivation of the Cinchona will be profitable or not I cannot say, the only way is to form a small plantation and then to give them the same attention, as would be given to vines, olives or Hops or such like plants. My experience only shows that with scarcely any attention the Cinchonas thrive very fairly, with care and attention I see no reason why they should not grow equally as well [as]4 any other cultivated plant.

I have jotted down these notes in a hurry as I am afraid I may miss the mail.

If I can be of service to you in any way please let me know

I am yours respectfully

G. W. Robinson

Shire Secretary & Surveyor


Would you please tell me the Bot name of the Cinchona5



Letter not found.
editorial addition.
editorial addition.
MS is with a plant label written by M: 'Cinchona Calisaya of Peru & Bolivia flowered since April 1877 at Berwick (Robinson)'. See also M to W. Odgers, 19 August 1877, in which M reported Robinson's success: 'I write this note … because the Cinchona culture is totally disrecommended in official documents, which found their way into the public press to my disadvantage'. See Argus, 18 August 1877, p. 9, for a quotation from William Guilfoyle’s Annual report concerning the futility of cultivating Cinchona in Victoria. The Leader, 1 September 1877, p. 8, refutes Guilfoyle, quoting, without acknowledgment of addressee, this letter from Robinson. See Guilfoyle (1877), pp. 12-13, for the context of the passage quoted by the Argus.

Please cite as “FVM-77-08-16,” 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 10 August 2022,