Fuchsia boliviana. Photo by Joanne Taylor
One of the most enchanting of all flowering plants is the fuchsia with its recurved sepals half covering the dainty pendant petals beneath. Named after a German botanist of the 16th century, Leonard Fuchs, fuchsias grow in the cloud forests of Central and South America, New Zealand, the West Indies and Tahiti. They range from ground-creeping species to shrubs, vines and small trees, and are of a woody nature. Excellent jam can be made from the berries of some varieties.
European botanists first identified F. boliviana in 1876 at high altitudes in Bolivia. It is also found in neighboring Argentina and Peru. An erect shrub often reaching 12-feet high, its narrow scarlet sepals dangle gracefully from many branches. The stigma and stamens, – pollen covered – protrude from barely visible petals. Leaves are oval-shaped, downy, and marked with deep veins. Cultivar F. boliviana 'Alba' (Bed 55c) has white sepals with scarlet petals.
The popularity of fuchsias reached their height in England during the Victorian era, when many botanical explorers hunted worldwide for new exotic plants. It was also an era of glass conservatories built to shelter new frost-tender plants, and was followed by the development of hundreds of fuchsia cultivars. The American Fuchsia Society, founded in Berkeley in 1929, meets in the San Francisco County Fair Building, and is the main source for fuchsia distribution and information.
||Thrives in the Bay Area's foggy, cool climate. Prefers shade or part sun, ample water. Protect from extreme temperatures, frost.
||In bloom throughout the year, but late Summer/Fall is the best show. Evergreen.
||Lovely ornamental flowers attract hummingbirds. Produces sweet edible fruit that is sold fresh in markets throughout South America.
||Images and information on F. boliviana
The American Fuchsia Society
Breedlove, D. E. Fuchsias Cultivated in California Native to N. and S. America, California Horticultural Journal, vol. 32, Jan. 1971.
Fuchsia boliviana is located in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest in beds 24c, 24d and 25b; in the Andean Cloud Forest in beds 53I and 57A.
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Map (Bed Numbers) >>
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor; text by Docent Kathy McNeil; profile by Fred Bové.