I have told the story of Phaloenopsis Sanderiana. It was a Zulu who put the discoverer of the new yellow Calla on the track. The blue Utricularia had been heard of and discredited long before it was found Utricularias are not orchids indeed, but only botanists regard the distinction.
Hoping you are in good health and able to go on with your favourite work, I remain yours very sincerely, The Dell, Grays, Essex. July 21, 1875. Dear Darwin, Many thanks for your kindness in sending me a copy of your new book. Being very busy I have only had time to dip into it yet. The account of Utricularia is most marvellous, and quite new to me.
The contrivance in Utricularia and Dionæa, and in fact in Drosera too, seems fully as great and complex as in Orchids, but there is not the same motive force.
For eight months the traveller wandered up and down among the Indians, searching forest and glade, the wooded banks of streams, the rocks and clefts, but he found neither C. labiata nor that curious plant which Sir Robert Schomburgk described. Upon the other hand, he came across the lovely Utricularia Campbelli, and in defiance of instructions brought it down. But very few reached England alive.
It may be worth while here to recall the fact that certain species of Utricularia, which grow in damp places in the tropics, possess bladders beautifully constructed for catching minute subterranean animals; and these traps would not have been developed unless many small animals inhabited such soil. The depth to which worms penetrate, and the construction of their burrows.
"True, it is very old," said I thoughtfully; "it was known, I believe, to the Greeks, and we find mention of it in the Latin as 'tibia utricularia; Suetonius tells us that Nero promised to appear publicly as a bagpiper.
Blue must not be looked for. Even counting the new Utricularia for an orchid, as most people do, there are, I think, but five species that will live among us at present, in all the prodigious family, showing this colour; and every one of them is very "hot." Thus it appears that the Oncidium fills a gap and how gloriously!
In this way it is easily conceivable that peltate leaves are a frequent specific character, while ascidia are not, as they only appear in the special cases of limited adaptation, as in the instances of the so called pitcher-plants. The genera Nepenthes, Sarracenia and some others are very well known and perhaps even the bladderworts or Utricularia might be included here.
What a wonderful and long-continued series of variations must have led up to the perfect "trap" in Utricularia, while at any stage of the process the same end might have been gained by a little more development of roots and leaves, as in 9,999 plants out of 10,000! Is this an imaginary difficulty, or do you mean to deal with it in future editions of the "Origin"? Believe me yours very faithfully,
Beneath it stands the very rare scarlet Utricularia, growing in the axils of its native Vriesia, as in a cup always full; but as yet the flower has been seen in Europe only by the eyes of faith. It may be news to some that Utricularias do not belong to the orchid family have, in fact, not the slightest kinship, though associated with it by growers to the degree that Mr.
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