RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1863. Appearance of a plant in a singular place. Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette no. 33 (15 August): 773.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, text prepared and edited by John van Wyhe 2002-8. RN2

[page] 773

Appearance of a Plant in a Singular Place.—In a hard gravel walk close to my house, my gardener1 and myself distinctly remember, about five or six years ago, two little rosettes of purplish leaves pushing their way up. We neither of us could imagine what they were; they were soon trampled down and apparently killed. But this spring they have re-appeared in exactly the same spot, and were protected. They have now flowered and prove to be Epipactis latifolia. This Orchid, though by no means a rare plant, I have never seen in this neighbourhood, and have heard only once of its having been found in a wood about a mile and a half distant. The gravel walk was made 20 years ago; and before that time the spot existed as a little-used carriage drive; and about 25 or 26 years ago it was a pasture field. How could this Epipactis, which is so rare a plant here, have come to this spot? The root stock seems to have lain dormant under the gravel for the last five or six years. Could a seed have been blown here from a distance and have germinated during some season when the walk was neglected? The tall stems growing up in the midst of the bare gravel surface present an odd appearance, and the case seems to me a singular one.2 Charles Darwin, Down, Bromley, Kent.

1 Henry Lettington (b. 1823, still living in Downe in 1901). See Correspondence vol. 11, pp. 592-3.

2 Darwin published further remarks on these orchids in Darwin 1869, p. 150 and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 101-2.

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

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