From William Thiselton-Dyer1    28 March 1882

Royal Gardens Kew 2

Kew, March 28. 82

My dear Sir Ferdinand

I have to acknowledge the safe recpt. of your letters of 14/2 & 16/2/82, as well as the superb photographs of Macrozamia Moorei and M. spiralis.3 Sir Joseph Hooker is much delighted with them. For of course you understand well that though as a sort of departmental duty I have taken the nomenclature of this splendid group in hand and the revision of the collection both living and preserved I am doing it on behalf of the Establishment. Any generous help you give me is therefore given to Kew and any specimens & information, as well as these sumptuous photographs, goes to swell the obligations of the national establishment to you and will remain when I am dead and gone for other scientific men to work upon and as evidence of your disinterested and liberal aid to botanical science. It is part of our system to at once put in its place everything we receive even the most trifling. So that if I never see the end of this Cycad business all my material is in order for some one else to take up and carry to a conclusion.

I know no group of plants the study of which is more arduous than that of Cycadeae and I can certainly endorse all you say [as] to the labour of procuring specimens and information. But it is amazing now that I have begun to work how material flows in. Only the other day I found in the Herbarium at Oxford what seemed to me an undescribed and new American form. It is with the new world species that I shall have I foresee the greatest difficulty and trouble. As to the Australian types I must rest content with having enlisted your interest and sympathy. It wd be worse than impertinence to attempt to rival your skill and resources in any portion of the field which is now so peculiarly your own. Every possible light you can throw on the subject will be so much clear gain to me. In the long run I shall hope to be able with your help to correctly determine the fine things we have from Australia in our museum and in the Palm House

If ever I can float the book I contemplate on the Cycadeae of the world4 I will not fail to do full justice to the officials who have collaborated with you in the production of the fine photographs I have just received The Encephalartos from Brisbane is certainly the E. villosus of Natal. It is well characterized by the peculiar toothing of the lower edge of the scutum of the scale in the ♀ cone — E. Hildebrandtii from Zanzibar is closely allied in foliage but well distinguished in fruit as you will see from the inclosed photo. a print from a negative taken by Mr John Kirk at Zanzibar

I inclose also a photo. of a ♂ cone of "Cycas Thouarsii" from the same source5

Macrozamia Moorei must, in point of size of cone, run the Encephalartoses of S. Africa very hard. The most authentic measurement I know is a cone of E. longifolius from Kew which excluding the stipe measured 22 inches. M. Moorei sent by you only reaches 20 inches. But then you say that the species produces larger cones. I shd judge from what one knows of the dimensions the plant attains that it is most respects the King of the family — like Saul a head and shoulders above its fellows

I have also recd the leaves of this plant. Do they belong to either of the plants which yielded the cones?

Miquel in his Monographia published Bauer's figures of Macrozamia spiralis 6 I suppose this wd be from the drawings at Vienna which I imagine to be duplicates of those preserved in the Botanical Department at the British Museum.7 I believe they have there a series of engraved copper plates of Australian plants impressions from which have never been published I am not sure however about this. Probably what was in my mind were the plates of New Zealand plates8 mentioned in the Botany of the Antarctic voyage ii, Flora of New Zealand, Introductory Essay p. iii.9 Carruthers however would tell you what they have10

Believe me

Yours sincerely

W. T. Thiselton Dyer



Encephalartos Hildebrandtii

Encephalartos longifolius

Encephalartos villosus

Macrozamia Moorei

Macrozamia spiralis

MS annotation by M: 'Answ 22/5/82 F.v.M.' M is probably referring to M to J. Hooker, 22 May 1882 (in this edition as 82-05-22a), in which he expressed thanks to Thiselton-Dyer for the photographs of Cycads received from him.
Embossed letterhead, with an insignia.
M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 February 1882 (in this edition as 82-02-16b); letter of 14 February not found.
Thiseton-Dyer never published a monograph of the Cycadaceae. Hill (1933) edited a supplement to vol. 5, part 2, of Flora capensis that treated the Gymnosperms. In his preface (p. iii) he wrote 'Sir William Thiselton-Dyer …had always intended to write the account of the South Afrincan Cycadaceae after his retirement, but failing health prevented him from carrying out the project, to which he had for many years devoted considerable study. Shortly before his death he handed over to me the material he had collected together with his notes'.
Photographs not found.
Miquel (1842), plates 4, 5.
The Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna drawings are for the most part pencil sketches, coded to guide the later watercolours, many of which are held in the Natural History Museum, London. For discussion of the wherabouts of Ferdinand Bauer’s drawings, finished paintings and engraved plates, see Mabberley (2017).
Hooker (1853-5), part 1, p. 3, first footnote.
The plates at the British Museum to which Thiselton-Dyer refers were the plates that Joseph Banks had prepared but that were not published until over a century later (Britten [1900-5] and then from 1981 as the 'Banks Florilegium'.

Please cite as “FVM-82-03-28a,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021,