Plants / Introduction of the Fuchsia / F. regia & F. alpestris

Fuchsia regia & Fuchsia alpestris

By 1840 Brazil was established as a new source of fuchsia species, as plants collected by George Gardner (1810-1849) began to arrive in Britain. While studying medicine at Glasgow university, Gardner had attended botany lectures given by Hooker and on graduation decided to become a plant collector. With Hooker's assistance he obtained the support of the Duke of Bedford and others as subscribers and sailed for Brazil in May 1836. Brazil was chosen as its interior was comparatively virgin territory for botanists. There he explored the Organ mountains, which rise to about 7000 feet around 60 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, where he found Fuchsia regia and F. alpestris. He also explored the northern provinces of the country and the areas associated with gold and diamond mining. He sent home 60,000 plant specimens representing 3,000 species. In 1841 he returned to Liverpool with six large Wardian cases, although many of the plants were found to have died on the voyage. Gardner was appointed to the botanic garden in Ceylon in 1843 and published Travels in the Interior of Brazil in 1846.

F. regia [left], which Gardner had found growing abundantly between 3,000 and 6,000 ft., was described in Curtis's Botanical Magazine (plate 3948) as F. integrifolia. The illustrated plant having been grown in the greenhouse of the Belfast Botanic Garden.

F. alpestris [right], found growing in the Organ mountains growing in moist, bushy, rocky places, at an elevation above 5,000ft, was described in Curtis's Botanical Magazine (plate 3999). In this case the illustrated plant had flowered at the Glasgow Botanic Garden, having been brought back by Gardner as a plant rather than being grown from seed.