A Fuchsia by any other name

Why do we feel lousy some mornings and other mornings, we hop out of our beds with smiles on our faces?  Even if I feel lousy, a quick trip around my garden soon gets me moving.  Especially if the day does not begin with 90 degree weather (mid-80s here today).

Some of my plants which looked very bedraggled after the 5-day heat wave this month are beginning to recover.  They looked dead, but today I found little green leaves on the “dead” branches of most of them.  The only one that looks like a gonner is one of the new Fuchsias I bought this spring named Firedance.  Too bad, as it had a prolific bloom. Of course I will try it again next year, but put it in a different  pot and place it where it receives partial sun.


Fuchsia came to my attention on one of my many trips to California to visit one of my company’s contractors.  After supper every evening I took advantage of the balmy weather, and walked through a housing development near the hotel where I was staying in Culver City.  Along the walkways and standing gracefully against the pink stucco buildings stood Fuchsia shrubs with lovely purple and fuchsia colored blooms.  I had to have one, although they mostly don’t make it in our northern Virginia winters…or didn’t 40 years ago.

So far, I have been able to overwinter a couple of Fuchsia plants, but these were the Billy Green Fuchsias and different from the F. Firecracker I bought this spring.  Mother Nature or I have killed plenty of Fuchsias.  Gardening, like everything else in life…cooking, marriage, etc. is trial and error.

Once upon a time, I bought plants from a supplier in Oregon which has since been absorbed into a larger operation.  The fellow who owned and ran the business whose name escapes me, but started with an “H” traveled all through Africa, Asia, and the Americas searching for new plant species.  From him, I obtained Fuchsia, Helleborus and other ‘exotic’ plants.   


Fuchsia was named for Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), a German physician in the early sixteenth century, and one of the founders of the discipline of Botany. Charles Plumier (20 April 1646 – 20 November 1704) a French friar, explorer and botanist found the first Fuchsia plants in the Caribbean.  Most Fuchsia are native to South America. My firecracker plant is probably bred from F. boliviana (left).

Plumier also discovered the Frangipani, know as Plumeria, in some parts of the world (Hawaii). Plumier wrote Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera (1703–04), one of the first plant encyclopedias about the Americas.  

That’s probably much more than you ever wanted to know about the Fuchsia, but if you have read this blog for a while, you know I am obsessed with plants and their Latin names, which are usually based on the names of botanists or explorers from the period when the Scientific Revolution may or may not have occurred in Europe (historians are still debating whether all the change which took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was a Revolution or an Evolution).

The really funny thing is that many of the first botanists, like Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides, were Roman or Greek, hence the Latin names.  Also, humans have been naming plants and animals since the gitgo. 


8 thoughts on “A Fuchsia by any other name

  1. Lovely eggs, lovely fuchsias, lovely temps down out of the 100’s at last. Mother used to raise them, and she always struggled with em. She could raise roses tho.

    Carryon’s. Go to the Nearest Ross dress for less. I have two roll on carryons one made by Samsonite. They both have dividers to function as brief cases, but they work well as suitcases too. Laptops fit in, clothes fir it, and I deemed these rolling briefcases a roaring success.


  2. Like gigi, I have never met a Fuschia in person. They certainly are lovely.
    You would like a friend of mine who is a 90 year old Master Gardener. She knows the latin names of “everything”. I am lucky to get the common name right.


    • They are wonderful plants, and you could probably get one of the species to grow for you. It would do well on your porch in an area that gets partial sun, preferably morning sun. I would enjoy your friend. I don’t have any credentials, I’m just a darn good gardener.


  3. I don’t think I have ever seen a fuschia in person. Lovely plant with unusual blooms! Today, hubby will buy a pot of chrysanthemums from the supermarket for our coffee table. I can’t wait to see which color he gets. Could be yellow, orange, white, or even purple! These mums will last 3 weeks, which is why I prefer them to cut flowers. Bouquets are nice, but potted flowers last longer.


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