From John Thurston   2 October 1882

Suva Fiji

2[d] October 1882

My dear Sir,

I have to thank you very much for your several kind letters1 and interesting enclosures all of which reached me safely and would have been acknowledged before but for an event which I think I may predict will not happen again.

We have just removed the seat of Government and all the Staff of offices from Levuka in the island of Ovalau to the Port of Suva in Viti Levu. The worry and difficulty, and the dislocation of all our habits of routine are things I cannot describe to you.

Directly that I have settled down in my new abode I will make attempts to secure the male amentum of the Cycas. I observe they grow in my neighbourhood but whether the oval or round seeded variety I have not yet had time to ascertain. One that I saw the other day was certainly 35 feet high — but I intend measuring it.

The large bananas — "Soanka" in the Fijian such as I sent you some time since per s.s. 'Suva' are of three or four varieties. The one ordinarily seen is erect, with bright red fruit about 3 inches long. The very large varieties are only found in the depth of the unfrequented forests

Of these there are two sorts — the one I sent you — and another in which the fruit is nearly as round and as large as a coconut. I am planting each sort in my garden to observe their peculiarities more closely —

Your suggestion to send a good sized Cycas to Kew shall be carried into effect, but I fear that if it arrived in England at the beginning or middle of winter it would perhaps die —

I am in frequent correspondence with Mr Thiselton Dyer, in fact almost every Mail, and never lose an opportunity of sending him plants which I think may be of interest and as a rule my cases reach England in splendid condition

Mr Weber2 has quite recovered from the effects of his rough treatment in Samoa — I believe that he has left for Germany but am not sure — He was not a pleasing young gentleman. I gave him free passage all over the group in Government vessels, store room for his boxes & collection — free quarters at several places which he visited, and did everything I could to help a young Botanist who I sensed was not overburdened with money But he never showed me a single thing that he collected, nor said 'thank you' for the trouble I had taken about him In short he seemed to consider himself injured because I was not disposed to pay all his expenses while in Fiji

There are two Casuarinas in Fiji 'Equisetifolia' and 'nodosa'3 I know of no others

I got a new variety of "Da[ckua]" the other day so far as the cone went and it is the most perfect cone I have found in the Tropics. A native brought it out of the bush with him but without leaves or other parts — I send it to you — By & bye you shall have leaves & flowers

Faithfully yours

John B. Thurston


Casuarina Equisetifolia

Casuarina nodosa


Letters not found.
Theodor Weber, representative of Cesar Godeffroy & Sons in Samoa? See Davidson (1967), p. 46.
C. nodosa not in IK. Mid-to-late-nineteenth century literature on French Polynesia identifies the tree commonly known as ‘le bois de fer’ with Casuarina and, in a small number of cases, for example Gaffarel (1880), p. 404, as Casuarina nodosa.

Please cite as “FVM-82-10-02,” 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 9 February 2023,