1902 Encyclopedia > Fuchsia

Fuchsia




FUCHSIA, so named by Plumier in honour of the bot-anist Leonhard Fuchs (v. supra), a genus of plants of the natural order Onagracece, characterized by entire, usually opposite leaves ; pendent flowers ; a funnel-shaped, brightly coloured, quadripartite, deciduous calyx; 4 petals, alternating with the calycine segments; 8, rarely 10, exserted stamens, a long and filiform style, and inferior ovary; and fleshy, ovoid, many-seeded Derries or fruit. All the members of the genus, with the exception of the New Zealand species, F. excorticata, F. Kirkei, and F. procum-bens, are natives of Central and South America,—occurring in the interior 6f forests, or in damp and shady mountainous situations. The various species differ not a little in size as well as in other characters; some, as F. verrucosa, being dwarf shrubs; others, as F. arborescens etndF. apetala, attain-ing a height of 12 to 16 feet, and having stems several inches in diameter. Plumier, in his Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera, p. 14, tab. 14, Paris, 1703, 4to, gave a description of a species of fuchsia, the first known, under the name of Fuchsia triphylla, flore coccineo, and a some-what conventional outline figure of the same plant was pub-lished at Amsterdam, in 1757, by Burmann. In the His-toire des Plantes Medecinales of the South American tra-veller Feuillee (p. 64, pi. XLVII.), written in 1709-11, and published by him with his Journal, Paris, 1725, the name Thilco is applied to a species of fuchsia from Chili, which is described, though not evidently so figured, as having a pentamerous calyx. The F. coccineo, of Aiton (see Dr J. D. Hooker, J. Proc. Linnean Soc., Botany, vol. x. p. 458, 1867), the first species of fuchsia cultivated in England, where it was long confined to the greenhouse, was brought from South America by Captain Firth in 1788, and placed in Kew Gardens. Of this species Mr Lee, a nurseryman at Hammersmith, soon afterwards obtained an example, and procured from it by means of cuttings several hundred plants, which he sold at a guinea each. In 1823 F. ma-crostemon and F. gracilis, and during the next two or three years several other species, were introduced into England ; but it was not until about 1837, or soon after florists had acquired F. fulgens, that varieties of interest began to make their appearance. The numerous hybrid forms now exist-ing are the result chiefly of the intercrossing of that or other long-flowered with globose-flowered plants. F. Venus victrix, raised by Mr Gulliver, gardener to the Bev. S. Marriott of Horsemonden, Kent, and sold in 1822 to Messrs Cripps, was the earliest white-sepalled fuchsia, and is one of the best of its kind for hybridization. The first fuchsia with a white corolla was produced about 1853 by Mr Storey. In some varieties the blossoms are variegated, and in others they are double. There appears to be very little limit to the number of forms to be obtained by careful cultivation and selection. To hybridize, the flower as soon as it opens is emasculated, and it is then fertilized with pollen from some different flower. As seed in the high-bred varieties of fuchsia is produced in but small quantity, it is worth, if it will germinate, at least 50 guineas an ounce (see H. Cannel, Gardener's Mag., 1875, p. 251). To procure the seed, which when good is firm and plump, the ripe pods are sun-dried for a few days, and then crushed between the finger and thumb; the seed is next cleansed in water from the surrounding pulp, dried in saucers, and wrapped in paper for use. It is sown about February or March in light, rich, well-drained mould, and is thinly covered with sandy soil, and watered. A temperature of 70°-75° Fahr. has been found suitable for raising. The seedlings are pricked off into shallow pots or pans, and when 3 inches in height are transferred to 3-inch pots, and are then treated the same as plants from cuttings (v. inf.). Fuchsias may be grafted as readily as camellias, preferably by the splice or whip method, the apex of a young shoot being employed as a scion ; but the easiest and most usual method of propaga-tion is by cuttings. As one of the most expeditious ways of procuring these, Loudon recommends to put plants in heat in January, and to take their shoots when three inches in length. For summer flowering in England they are best made about the end of August, and should be selected from the shortest-jointed young wood. Coarse brown sand inter-mixed with a little leaf-mould, with a surface-layer of silver-sand, affords them a good soil for striking. In from two to three weeks they may be put into 3-inch pots containing a compost of equal parts of rich loam, silver-sand, and leaf-mould. They are subsequently moved from the frame or bed, first to a warm and shady, and then to a more airy part of the greenhouse. In January a little artificial heat may be given, to be gradually increased as the days lengthen. The side-shoots are generally pruned when they have made three or four joints, and for bushy plants the leader is stopped soon after the first potting. Care is taken to keep the plants as near the glass as possible, and shaded from bright sunshine, also to provide them plentifully with water, except at the time of shifting, when the roots should be tolerably dry. For the second potting a suitable soil is a mixture of well-rotted cow-dung or old hotbed mould with leaf mould and sandy peat, and to promote drainage a little peat-moss may be placed immediately over the crocks in the lower part of the pot. Weak liquid manure greatly promotes the advance of the plants, and should be regularly supplied twice or thrice a week during the flowering season. After this, water is gradually withheld from them, and they may be placed in the open air to ripen their wood. The com-mon garden fuchsia, F.fulgens, stands the winter in England if cut down and covered with 4-6 inches of dry ashes (Smee), and many other species may be grown in the open air if afforded a little protection from frosts. F. discolor, a native of the Falkland Islands, is a particularly hardy species (see Trans. Sort. Soc. Bond., 2d ser., ii. p. 284). The nectar of fuchsia flowers has been shown by Mr A. S. Wilson (Bep. Brit. Assoc., 1878) to contain nearly 78 per cent, of cane sugar, the remainder being fruit sugar. The berries of some fuchsias are subacid or sweet, and edible. From cer-tain species a dye is obtainable. The so-called " native fuchsias " of Southern and Eastern Australia are plants of the genus Correa, and natural order Butacece.

See J. C. Loudon, Arboretum, vol. ii. pp. 942-5; Felix Porcher, Histoire et Culture clu Fuchsia, Paris, 1874; F. ~W. Burbidge, The Propagation and Improvement of Cultivated Plants, 1877 ; The Floral World, 1878, pp. 74-76, 253-4. (F. H. B.)


Footnote

Plantarum Americanarum Fasciculus Sextus, Continens Plantas, quas olim Carolus Plumierius, Botanicorum Princeps, Deiexit, Eruitque. J. Burmannus atque in Insulis Antillis ipse depinxit, pp. 124, 125, tab. exxxiii.








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