RECORD: Riley, C. V. [1868] Entomology: half peach, half nectarine. CUL-DAR193.54. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

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

NOTE: This clipping was the enclosure to a 29 August 1868 letter from B. D. Walsh to Darwin. Darwin marked the clipping in pencil “No Use”.




By C. V. Riley, 2130 Clark Av., St. Louis, Mo.

Half Peach, Half Nectarine.

Mr. John Taylor, of Greenwood Co., Kansas writes to the Rural World in order to have a mystery explained. He says that among a thousand peach trees, about twenty of which are now bearing, the seeds of which were gathered in Platte county, Mo., there are some that bear a fruit one-half of which is a perfect peach, while the other half has a smooth rind resembling a plum. He says the fruit is very fine. The peach pits used for seed first mentioned grew in an orchard where no other except apple trees were raised. Mr. C. V. Riley replies as follows:

"Although not strictly belonging to this Department, as your letter and specimen were handed to me, I will briefly answer. The specimen sent is a perfect illustration of a combined fruit—it being exactly half peach and half Nectarine. The dividing line is right through the centre, and the characters of each half as distinct in every respect as they ever were in a single individual peach or nectarine. There is a set of men—some high in horticultural standing too—who with high-sounding words and theories, ridicule the idea of such a phenomenon. Never having observed it themselves; distrustful of others' observations; unable to explain the fact—they denounce it as a delusion.

Darwin, in his late work, after enumerating a great many instances of the kind, says:

"We have excellent evidence of peach-stones producing nectarine trees, and of nectarine-stones producing peach trees—the same tree bearing peaches and nectarines—of peach trees suddenly producing by bud variation nectarines (such nectarines producing nectarines by seed) as well as fruit in part nectarine, in part peach; and lastly of one nectarine tree first bearing half-and-half fruit, and subsequently true peaches." [The variation of animals and plants under domestication 1: 411]

On the supposition that these two fruits were originally created distinct as they are, these facts are of course a mystery; but they become more intelligible on the development theory, especially when we consider that the peach has been produced from the almond and the nectarine from the peach."

This document has been accessed 405 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 25 September, 2022