Fuchsia is a genus of plants pertaining to the Onagraceae family prized by gardeners for their spectacular flowers. The generic name was given in honor of German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. The greatest concentration of Fuchsia species is in South America, but several species extend as far north as Mexico with some even crossing the Pacific and establishing in Tahiti or New Zealand. The plants tend to be compact shrubs and produce nodding or pendulous flowers on the new growth. Fuchsia flowers evolved to be pollinated by hummingbirds and this is why they are resplendently colored and also hang from the tips of branches.
There are 117 different taxa in this genus which are then broken down into a dozen sections. The sections of this genus that hold the greatest interest to bulbophiles contain Fuchsia species with tuberous roots. These are:
Section Pachyrrhiza Contains only one extremely rare species native to the Peruvian Andes.
- Fuchsia pachyrrhiza P. E. Berry & B. A. Stein
Section Ellobium Contains three species of Fuchsia with an epiphytic or lithophytic habit. These species are deciduous.
- Fuchsia decidua Standl.
- Fuchsia fulgens DC.
- Fuchsia splendens Zucc.
Fuchsia fulgens is a species native to the central highlands of Mexico. It has been reported from the states of Mexico, Michoacan and Jalisco in the Pacific watershed at elevations between 1500-2000 meters growing in oak forests. It commonly grows as a lithophyte with the tuberous roots wrapping around rocks or as an epiphyte growing among ferns and mosses on the trunks of trees. The roots tend to be branched, rather long and protected with a scarious covering. The plants are commonly seen in the first major fork of a tree about 1-2 meters off the ground. The plant is deciduous and new growth commences in April right before the rainy season begins. Plants can be seen in flower in their native habitat in May.
The first picture is of the tuberous root system of a wild-collected plant. The plant is cultivated as an epiphyte by being tied to a Prunus armeniaca tree. The second picture is of a plant flowering in the wild taken in early July in-situ in Mexico State. Photos by Dennis Szeszko.