The first fuchsia was discovered by a missionary, Fr. Charles Plumier, in the Dominican Republic towards the end of the seventeenth century. He named it Fuchsia triphylla coccinea, in a tribute to the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. Another variety, F. vulcanica, was found growing near a volcano, in warm temperatures in Central America, while Fuchsia magellanica was discovered in cooler temperatures in South America. Two varieties grow in New Zealand, these varieties have blue pollen which was used as a cosmetic, decorating the bodies of dancers during tribal ceremonies.
Because our climate allows hardy fuchsias to grow into large bushes and to survive outside in winter, many fuchsia lovers from around the world come to Ireland just to enjoy the sight of fuchsias growing wild along the hedgerows and beside the roads in the south and west of the country. A Swiss friend of mine tells of staying in a Bed & Breakfast while on a cycling tour of Ireland many years ago. They spent their first evening admiring the large fuchsia hedges growing around the house. They awoke next morning to the sound of machinery outside their bedroom. To their horror, the hedgerow was being cut down by a chain-saw, nearly to ground level . When they asked their host why, he explained that it was common practice to cut them back early every year as the fuchsia always grew again, thicker and with more flowers than ever before. I don’t think they quite believed him, but is how all hardy fuchsias should be treated, even in our own gardens. It rejuvenates the plants.