Fuchsia – people, plants & colours

For Gill, who likes plant stories

When someone says Fuchsia, a vivid splash of red and purple usually flashes through your mind. Too bad that I cannot throw this word outside the window to melt and colour our white and frozen world! These past days, Gill was showing off their Fuchsia glazioviana, a native of the tropical cloud forests – please read more HERE, and I remembered Fuchsia magellanica ‘Cape Horn’ which not only survived in a trial bed at Lost Horizons last winter (a mild one truth to be told), but also flowered quite profusely. ­­

Fuchsia magellanica 'Cape Horn'

Fuchsia magellanica ‘Cape Horn’ flowering at Lost Horizons Nursery

The term fuchsia, as a colour name, was first recorded in 1892 (wikipedia) and sometimes it is considered similar to magenta, although fuchsia colour usually involves more purple. I would say the shades of colour fuchsia are as many as Fuchsia species are.

Fuchsia magellanica is native to the southernmost area of South America and some of its common names include Hardy Fuchsia and Hummingbird Fuchsia. It can be quite variable and it is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. It behaves as a dying-back perennial or annual in colder climates and remains growing and flowering throughout the season in no-frost regions. The good news for us in colder regions is that the dreaded fuchsia gall mite is affected by temperatures under 40°F (5°C)!Fuchsia magellanica 'Cape Horn'1

Various Fuchsia cultivars can also be used as houseplants and I will always remember my grandmother veranda draped by the flowers of potted Fuchsias. It is also very popular as a hanging basket plant in North America, although I must confess I’m not very keen on the ones with super-double, frivolous big flowers.  Almost anyone would recognize the typical tubular red and purple Fuchsia elegant flowers, but what’s in its name? The genus Fuchsia was named in honour of Leonhart Fuchs, a German physician and botanist who lived in the sixteenth century – the century of the great herbals!

Fuchs wrote a massive herbal – De Historia Stirpium, first published in 1542 and considered exceptiFuchsia 'Cape Horn'2onal because it contained some 497 plant descriptions in Latin, and more than that, it was illustrated with over 500 detailed plant drawings printed from woodcuts. Many of the species featured in it were also grown in his own extensive garden in Tübingen. He was one (rare) scientist convinced that the study of plants has to begin in the field, in the ‘real’ life and he was known to organize field trips with his students.

Furthermore, I am sure you can guess where magellanica comes from! – I’m stuck in the snow here but I hope some of you can travel around the world :)

9 replies
  1. mrsdaffodil
    mrsdaffodil says:

    Very interesting post. One of the delightful things about my visits to Ireland was the abundance of fuchsias seemingly growing wild there. I don’t know what sort of fuchsias they were, but they certainly weren’t super-double, frivolous or big.

  2. Highalp
    Highalp says:

    I love the simple hardy fuchsias, the common one grown in the UK and most probably seen wild in Ireland is Fuchsia Riccartonii syn. F.magellanica var. Riccartonii, another interesting import gone wild and seen in many roadside ditches in Ireland is Gunnera manicata.

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