To William Thiselton-Dyer   9 April 1882




Through the holidays some delay has occurred at the atelier of the Gov. Photographer, in finishing several more illustrations of Cycadeae for you, dear Mr Dyer; and altho’ I have been at work also all through Easter, I have not been able to send off to you by this mail any more material, my time having been occupied with pressing official duties, such as I daily owe to the colonists. I have at last secured a superb cone of Macrozamia Denisonii, which had to be ordered from a place near Cape York, that species further south having become so rare by clearance of the jungle-vallies for sugar-plantations. This fruit-amentum will this week also be photographed.2

As regards the primogeniture of Vahea there cannot be the slightest doubt; but whether the legal claims of Landolphia against the moral rights of Vahea for maintaining this little botanic estate in Africa can be upheld, is a question which can only be solved by literary tribunals in France (by research in records there); so a sort of litigation (I speak jocularly) is now arising about the “rightful claimant!”3 However as I have never been in a court of law in all my life, except once or twice as a medical witness, I shall be very peaceful on this judicial matter of nomenclature. - I wonder only, why Bentham did not give a few words of explanation under Landolphia, why he gave preference to that genus in B & H gen.4

I see Baillon restores with much propriety Laxmannia among the Composées;5 this would confirm the substitution of my Bartlingia (see Census of Austral. plant-genera p. 48 for R. Br’s Bartlingia).6 Perhaps you will kindly direct Sir Joseph’s attention to this point of changes.7 I find Baillon’s Composées rather arbitrary, and (altho he had the advantage of B. & H. gen. to consult,) yet very imperfect. I feel very sad of the death of M. De Caisne;8 through a quater of a century’s correspondence he remained always the same genial and generous friend, ready to aid, wherever he could. I find that the gum of two Macrozamias, examined by me, is chemically Bassorin.9 I have at last material enough to settled the limits between M. Fraseri, M. Macdonelli10 & M. Moorei, all three closely allied.11 M. tridentata was well described as M. Miquelii long ago, but M. Moorei is an inland species; hence it escaped so long special notice.

I merely alluded to the transit of the living Livistona stem as interesting for general & future horticultural trade;12 —it is—so far as I am aware—the first experiment of the kind, as it was with my Cycas stems years ago, Todea &c.

Have you a fragment of Nesogenes to spare from the Kew-collection?13

Regardfully your

Ferd. von Mueller.


The name Vahea gummifera is printed already on the plate14

Of course the merit of effecting the unison of the two genera rests with Mr Bentham solely.









Macrozamia Denisonii

Macrozamia Fraseri

Macrozamia Macdonelli

Macrozamia Miquelii

Macrozamia Moorei

Macrozamia tridentata



Vahea gummifera

In 1882, Easter fell on 9 April.
RBG Kew, Museum Entry Book, vol 5 (1881-1895), p. 27 has an entry ‘1882 Mar [?May] 23/55a Sir F von Mueller Melbourne Photographs of Macrozamia Moorei M. spiralis, and one photo, cone unnamed’.
For an outline of the nomenclatural argument, see M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 10 September 1881, and notes thereto. See also M to A. de Candolle, 9 April 1882. The ‘rightful claimant’ is probably a reference to the long-running cause of the ‘Tichbourne Claimant’ (ODNB,, accessed 15 April 2005)
Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 2, p. 692.
Baillon (1867-1895), vol. 8, p. 240.
I see Baillon ... changes is marked by a blue pencil line in the margin of the ms.
Joseph Decaisne died suddenly on 8 February 1882.
M. macdonnelli?
M had noted the similarities between the three species in B81.08.03, pp. 125–6.
M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 31 December 1881.
Have you ... collection? is marked by a blue pencil line in the margin, which is annotated beneath the valediction in W Thiselton-Dyer’s hand: '[Pers]. 0/- with reference to the specimen of Nesogenes W.D. May 24. 82 and with specimen of Nesogenes May 25. 82.'
See notes to M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 10 September 1881.

Please cite as “FVM-82-04-09a,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 20 September 2021,