Plants / Introduction of the Fuchsia / F. decussata

Fuchsia decussata

F. decussata had been described by the Spanish botanists Hipólito Ruiz and José Pavón in volume 3 of their Flora Peruviana, et Chilensis (1802).

Seeds were received from Chile by the London radical Francis Place in 1822, who passed them on to the Horticultural Societ of London. Place's daughter Elizabeth was married to a coachmaker William Bridges Adams, who would later gain fame as a railway engineer. The couple had gone to South America, where political upheaval was creating new opportunities and William entered the service of Thomas, lord Cochrane who was commanding the Chilean navy in their war of liberation from Spain. The source of the fuchsia seeds was Alexander Cruckshanks, a naturalist who spent a decade living in South America. On his return to Edinburgh in 1830 he provided William Hooker, professor of botany at Glasgow university and editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, with an account of a trip from Lima to Pasco, a mining centre in the Andes. He also discussed the climate of Chile and western Peru, to provide guidance on the conditions required by plants from the area and on the best seasons for travelling in the area and collecting plants. In 1824 a F. decussata grown from this seed flowered at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden and was illustrated in the Botanical Magazine (plate 2507). Although it was being kept in a greenhouse, it was expected to prove hardy.