RECORD: Darwin, C. R. [1856-1858]. [On possibility of all organic beings crossing]. CUL-DAR111.A27. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 4.2021. RN1

NOTE: First transcribed in Stauffer, R. C. ed. 1975. Charles Darwin's Natural Selection; being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. (F1583)

Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.



* to p. 39 [illeg]Hist of Bees

I may give one instance in regard to the colour of[illeg] In Viola odorata

Spengel has shown that the pollen cannot escape owing to the manner in which the anthers will their scales close round the pistil, till disturbed by the proboscis of the insect: he proved this by covering up some flowers & leaving others uncovered (Der Entdeckte &c p. 390), & finding pollen shed in latter, but never in the protected flowers.

Now in 1841 I watched almost daily & many times a day [observed] patches of the V. tricolor or Heartsease for seven weeks, & never saw an insect of any kind visit them; when suddenly on two successive days I saw several small Humble-bees visiting all the flowers. In the next year after a fortnight watching in vain I again saw two or three species of Bees (& a Fly dusted with pollen) visiting most of the flowers & I found pollen profusely shed on the lower petals, all around the stigma; & I noticed the same fact on the same day with some plants of wild V. Tricolor.

Now in both those years, I noticed a few days after the visit of the Bees & of the Fly (I marked the flower visited by the Fly) a great number of the flowers on the several clumps suddenly withered, as if the germens had been set.

Hence I cannot in the least doubt that I saw in these Humble Bees, that priests who celebrated the marriage ceremony of the Heartsease.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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