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A genus of about 100 species of shrubs, some climbing and a few attaining the dimensions of small trees in the wild. They are natives mainly of C. and S. America, but four occur in New Zealand and one in Tahiti. Leaves opposite or whorled, rarely alternate. Flowers epigynous, usually axillary and pendulous but in some species crowded in a terminal cluster. Calyx-tube (hypanthium) bell-shaped, funnel-shaped, or more commonly tubular, with four spreading sepals (calyx-lobes) which are usually free but united at the base in F. regia. Petals four, inserted in the mouth of the calyx-tube, erect, spreading or reflexed, but in some species the petals are inconspicuous or even absent (section Skinnera). Stamens eight, usually exserted and often of unequal length. Style exserted. Some species of Fuchsia are dioecious, i.e., the flowers are unisexual and borne on different plants; in others unisexual flowers may occur as well as perfect ones. The fruit in Fuchsia is a berry, usually with many seeds.
The genus Fuchsia was revised by P. A. Munz in Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., Vol. 25 (1943), pp. 1-138. Modern horticultural works are: T. Thorne, Fuchsias for all Purposes (1959); S. J. Wilson, Fuchsias (2nd ed. 1969); W. P. Wood, A. Fuchsia Survey (znd ed. 1956). The British Fuchsia Society was founded in 1938 and publishes a yearbook.
The fuchsias can be increased with the greatest ease by means of soft-wooded cuttings, but ripe wood will also strike. For the private gardener the best procedure is to take soft-cuttings about August; these will root without artificial heat but must be overwintered in a frost-free frame or greenhouse.
For the garden hybrids of fuchsia see the separate section starting on page 243.