RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 'The Geranium phaeum' (6.1842) CUL-DAR205.5.53-54 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections by John van Wyhe 11.2010, 3.2011. RN2

NOTE: Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
[some text] 'some text' is an editorial insertion
[some text] 'some text' is the conjectured reading of an ambiguous word or passage
[some text] 'some text' is a description of a word or passage that cannot be transcribed
< > word(s) destroyed
<some text> 'some text' is a description of a destroyed word or passage
Text in small red font is a hyperlink or notes added by the editors.

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



Maer June 6 /42/

These notes show how little change produces [variations]

(Dried specimens)

The Geranium phaeum (or varifolium v[ide] Hooker) was several years ago cultivated in gardens, & was thrown away or planted in plantations. it has now spread itself no doubt by seed. from distance & distinction of changes in a shady damp wood extensively, & from many large clumps. The plants vary considerably in colour from the darkest chocolate (wh. Elizabeth believes was original colouring but now is one of the least frequent) through various shades of pinks & purples, to a pale purple. so as to form quite a nosegay when tied together (yet till my attention was called from crossing this species, I overlooked the fact !!) size of flower varies considerably & flatness & degree of reflexion & sinuosity of edges & amount of pointedness of the petals — in one plant distinct one from another & diamond shaped & calyx seen between them. — in other only patch make nearly an aside. — In centre of each flower, pales space, size 7 degree of paleness & width of its purple veins differs — the green of the


of the leaves & the sharpness of their indentations varies — in some flowers outer edge of petals entire, & slightly sinuous, in others rather deeply cleft —

These flowers dichotomous, frequented by Bees = yet The different varieties affect to be in distinct groups, only occasionally mingled together — as original plant cultivated in garden & now runs wild & fighting against weeds , conditions can hardly be considered as new more favourable — or at least as excess of food — if variation depends on excess of food, it is such as nature herself readily supplies, it does not depend on man. —

This document has been accessed 2855 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 2 July, 2012