To William Thiselton-Dyer   25 May 1885



By this post I am sending you, dear Mr Dyer, fragments of leaves and antheriferous and ovuliferous scales of a Macrozamia, to which I have given your honored name.1 Concerning this Zamia a correspondence has been gone on for several years, til at last I got sufficient material from Esperance Bay,2 to prove its distinctness from M. Fraseri. This shows also, that in measuring my share in the Flora Australiensis among many other facts the enormous efforts must be taken into consideration, made by me through nearly 40 years to bring such unexampled rich material (and elaborated too at once) together. I do not exaggerate, when I say, that I wrote about 100 000 letters during the last 1/3 century.

I have suggested to the Exhibition Commissioners at Swan River,3 to take timely measures for procuring a fresh stem of M. Dyeri for their Court, the stem to be reared into foliage at Kew on an understanding, that the growing plant remains at your grand establishment after the exhibition as well as the fruitspike.

I have to thank you for sending me the most interesting new edition of Kew Guide,4 also for returning to me a copy of the print of my rural adress.5

Sir Joseph wrote to me about the none-election of the Rev. Jul. Ten. Woods into the RS after his second candidature.6 Rev. Scortechini can give, if he should not stay 2 more years in India, personal information about WoodsIf Sir Henry Barkly thinks proper, to put Mr Woods name up again for the third time,7 I shall willingly allow me8 name as that of a supporter also for the third time, not because that I think it nice to continue a candidature for three years in succession, but because I may not live an other year to attach my signature, my pulmonary sufferings not being subdued.

I suggested,9 when sending my mite to Dr Masters for the placing of the likeness of the great Bentham in Kew, that the Linnean Society out of the fund bequeathed to it by the lamented great phytographer10 should create a Bentham-medal for phytography, as that would give an additional impetus to systematic phytology and bring annually the name of one of its illustrious presidents prominently before the Society. In these times, when phytologic anatomy and physiology and morphology drive taxology so much into the back-ground, such a medal as that suggested by me would help to keep phytography in its proper dignity, as so few even of enlightened people do reflect, that horticultural, geographic, medicinal technologic and rural Botany rest mainly or entirely on phytography not anatomy and physiology or evolutional research, however valuable they assuredly are. But we have to look to the great "bread-affording" branches mainly, and all physiology &c would have no basis, if we have not a progressive system of descriptive phytology. Someone in an educational position as a teacher spoke recently here of Botany as regarded by many as a science of hard names in the usual stereotypic manner of expression; but if we are not to have the greek and latin names, it will be best to shut out from our high schools all classi[cs]11

Regardfully your

Ferd. von Mueller.


I wrote also to Mr B. D. Jackson12 about a Bentham-Medal, and trust, that the proposition is not rejected because it arose in Australia.

Woods is now geologizing in China13


Macrozamia Dyeri

Macrozamia Fraseri


M published the species as Encephalartos dyeri (see B85.06.02, p. 12) but the specimens available to him were poor and he was evidently uncertain as to its status, referring to it as 'this new Zamia or Encephalartos'. It was reassigned to Macrozamia by Gardner (1930-1).
i.e. the Commissioners responsible for mounting the WA exhibit at the forthcoming Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London, 1886.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1885).
B80.13.09. See M to J. Hooker, 27 January 1885.
See J. Hooker to M, 7 April 1885.
Tenison Woods was a candidate for election to the Royal Society of London, always unsuccessfully, in 1883-4 and 1886-8, but was not a candidate in 1885.
Letter not found, but see M to J. Hooker, 6 and 28 November 1884, where the suggestion for a medal is made.
Bentham willed £1000 to the Linnean Society, expressing his desire that it should be used to open a Library Fund (Gage & Stearn [1988], p. 183). M was perhaps unaware that Bentham had expressed such a wish.
editorial addition. — Text obscured by binding.
Letter not found.
Woods travelled extensively in south-east Asia in 1883-4, and then from May 1885 spent several months in China; see O'Neill (1929).

Please cite as “FVM-85-05-25,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 16 October 2021,