Fuchsia excorticata – the Elusive, Elegant and Wonderful Tree Fuchsia of New Zealand

Most people think of Fuchsia as the somewhat gaudy, colorful plants so often used in Hanging baskets and summer bedding displays – and rightly so, as they provide some serious color and interesting form for a pretty long period.

The majority of the Fuchsia come from South America originally – and the modern varieties are bred from just a handful of species that were discovered by the first western botanists to explore the New World.

There are however just a few species which do not come from South America, these are the New Zealand Fuchsia species, of which there are only 3 (or thereabouts). There is the creeping Fuchsia scandens, Fuchsia perscandens (which is a sort of climber), and the Tree Fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata.

The Tree Fuchsia was once quite widely grown by gardeners in the UK, but a serious of hard winters in the early 20th Century killed them all off.

Now, these fantastic plants are starting to be grown again, and new variations, selections and hybrids are being derived from them.

If you are lucky enough to have a very mild winter climate, you may find that there is the possibility of growing these in your garden, but suppliers are hard to find.

The plants eventually form large trees, with attractive papery bark – and the flowers emerge in Spring, usually before the leaves have even started to bud out.  These are not the showiest of the genus, but undoubtedly they are one of the more refined and distinguished members of the Fuchsia tribe.

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