Plants / Introduction of the Fuchsia / F. lyciodes

Fuchsia lyciodes

F. lycioides, a Chilean species, was collected by Archibald Menzies. He was the ship's surgeon on board the Discovery, which circumnavigated the world under the command of Captain George Vancouver between 1790 and 1795. Menzies had trained alongside his elder brother as a gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh before his medical training and his role on the voyage was both that of surgeon and naturalist. He collected many new plants, some of which were transported in a forerunner of the Wardian case. A F. lycioides collected by Menzies first flowered at Kew in 1796.

In the wild F. lycioides is limited to a narrow coastal strip in central Chile on the edge of the Atacama desert, a rather hostile environment with only moderate winter rainfall and long dry summers. Its tuberous roots are able to withstand drought, which made it the sort of plant that could survive a long sea voyage packed in sand. In England it required the protection of a greenhouse and was described in the Botanical Magazine (plate 1024) as 'a curious shrub, and by no means void of beauty'.