31st August 1826
I think I shall be obliged to defer drawing up my paper for the Linnean Society <1> till next spring, as I have thoughts of going to Paris shortly.
I wish that Botanical Travellers would mention in their Floras, what are the plants that chiefly abound in any district, as it is not a stray specimen or two of some rare flower that gives a character to the vegetation but those which are common everywhere & abundant. Thus in England if we were writing to an American botanist, we might mention Belius perennis, Ranunculus acres & Leontodon Taraxacum; which would give him a much better idea of our vegetation than if we wpdoke of Paris quadrifolia, Potentilla fruticosa, or Polemonium coruleum. –
In Corfu the plants that are strikingly abundant everywhere are Phlomis fruticosa, Asphodelus ramosus, Ornithagalum exscapum (Tenne) which I think is Nanum of Sibthorp <2> – Geranium umbrosum (Tenore) Scilla maritima, Sycopsis variegata, Scrophalaria peregrina, Phalaris utriculata &c &c. In the island of Zante a different set, Salvia triloba, Hedysarum humile, Hedysarum Caput-galli, Chrysanthemum coronarium especially abounds forming at a distance large yellow patches. The people call it λοϒλοϒθι <sic> which means “flower” par excellence. Cynara humilis? Anthericum Græcum &c. These are all so common that you are
sh sure to meet them almost immediately. I should add Poterium Spinosum which sometimes has a monopoly of several acres together, & Cistus Salvifolius & a purple one. The above list will I trust convey to you an idea of the prima facies of this insular flora.
I met with two singular varieties of established species which I think may prove new species. The fruit is Lithospermum Orientale which has always white flowers in Corfu. The other is Trifolium steteatum (so common in Italy) which elsewhere is always pink flowers, in Corfu bright yellow.
I met with magnificent specimens of Cystinus Hypocistis; the plant is vivid scarlet the flowers white, it resembles a wax model more than a living plant. The flowers I found to be <illegible deletion> monæcious, but their structure I did not rghtly understand. An Umbellefora of Zante presents the singularity of a triangular stem, the angles remarkably sharp & cutting, with large yellow flowers & 5 winged seeds – Bertoloni <3> could make nothing of it, for some time, but at least we found it described (tho’ inoita natura) as Laserpitium Laserpitium triquetr<um> <4> The elegant Staehelina Chamaepeuce grows on the Cliffs in Zante. Instead of Veronica Chamædrys which I never saw in Corfu, there is a Veronica very like it with smaller and paler flowers and a stem hairy uniformly all round. – As I can find no other difference, I don’t know what to think of it. – I have two very singular Euphorbiæ one is described by Brotero <5> as E. ptericocca, tho’ Sprengel has given it a much better name “sexangularis”. The other could have been new had not Gussone <6> discovered it last year in Sicily.
I remain dear Sir
Yours most truly
W. H. F. Talbot
Sir J.E. Smith
President of the Linnean Society
readdressed: Rob Reeves, Esqr. Lowestoft
1. Linnean Society, London
2. John Sibthorp (1758–1796), botanist.
4. Text torn away under seal.
5. Felix Avelar Brotero (1744–1828).
6. Giovanni Gussone (1787–1866), Italian botanist.