To William Thiselton-Dyer1    24 December 1877

Emerald Isle Hotel

King George's Sound2

Christmas Eve 1877.


You asked me, dear Mr Dyer, some time ago, to procure once more seeds of Neptunia gracilis, which is now accomplished through the kindness of Mons. Thozet.3

I thank you for the consideration shown to me as Gov. Botanist of Victoria by forwarding to me the seeds of the S. African Sideroxylon. Assuredly my office is the one, through which seeds of new plants of industrial importance should pass, otherwise my whole position becomes a farce! You allude to the Melbourne bot Garden as one of the largest Colonial Establishments, which Kew could not pass. May I ask, who was the founder? If the person, who is head gardener there4 (though merely a youth out of Sydney nursery) has the audacity to style himself Director and this is tolerated in Australia, I can only say, that he is merely Gazetted Curator, and Kew ought only to recognize him as such.

I cannot describe to you, Mr Dyer, how sad and unhappy I feel in my blighted career, and all this sadness could have been avoided if the great men of science in Europe had given me in my struggle timely active support, instead of quietly looking on in passive sympathy. No! Hooker was treated differently,5 but then I am a foreigner.


Ferd von Mueller


There are [1]000 acres of public parks and pleasureground at Melbourne for common garden[s]


Neptunia gracilis


MS annotation by Thiselton-Dyer: 'Thanked/Febr 1[5]/78'. Letter not found.
Letter not found. Kew Gardens had supplied Charles Darwin with seeds of Neptunia monosperma for Darwin's investigations into the movement of plants. When Darwin reported that only one of his seeds had germinated, but had then died, Thisleton-Dyer complimented him on getting any to germinate as Kew had failed; he added that he would 'write ot Australia for a fresh supply of seed'. It is not clear whether the request was for named species of Neptunia or seeds of any of the genus. See C. Darwin to W. Thiselton-Dyer 14 July 1877, and W. Thiselton-Dyer to C. Darwin, 16 July 1877, in Burkardt et al. (2017), pp. 287-8 and 289-90 respectively. The species of Neptunia reported upon in Darwin (1880), pp. 128, 374 and 402 was N. oleracea , which is not listed as occuring in Australia (R. S. Cowan entry for Neptunia ( Flora of Australia on line, , accessed 19 November 2017).
William Guilfoyle.
See MacLeod (1974).

Please cite as “FVM-77-12-24,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,