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Fuchsia excorticata - "Tree Fuchsia"

This is not your grandma's little Fuchsia plant!  Fuchsia excorticata - the "Tree Fuchsia" - is an actual tree, holding the world record for the largest Fuchsia.  This native of New Zealand forests grows to 50 feet tall, with a trunk 3 feet wide!  Personally i like it for its awesome, peeling bark!  It also has very unusual flowers, with an odd color combination of deep purple and lime green, which changes to bright purple as the flowers mature.  It's also unusual for its striking bright blue pollen, which is a pretty rare color for pollen.  The plant is rarely seen in cultivation, and not offered for sale very often.

Fuchsia excorticata - "Tree Fuchsia"

Fuchsia excorticata is a vigorous tree that may be pruned to any size that is convenient, and may even be grown as a bonsai plant.  Its twisty branches have a papery outer bark that peels off in strips all by itself.  A great picture of it growing in New Zealand is here.  It tends to drop at least some of its leaves in winter if temperatures are cool, followed by flowers in spring and summer.  The glossy, inch-long blooms emerge directly from the branches, instead of on the newer growth like most Fuchsias.  After flowering, it makes edible, dark purple fruits that are lightly sweet.

Fuchsia excorticata - "Tree Fuchsia"

Like most Fuchsias, it prefers mild daytime temperatures and cool nights.  I don't know anyone growing it in a warm climate, but i suspect it might not be happy if temperatures regularly get above 85F (29C) and nights are above 65F (18C).  It might be able to tolerate warmer conditions if nights are cool.  It can survive a few degrees of frost, best it's best to keep it from freezing, especially when young.  It grows well in a pot in well-draining, fertile soil that's kept evenly moist, similar to other Fuchsias.  This forest plant prefers part sun, with protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and long-lived tree.  This species is resistant to Fuchsia mites.

 

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Photo #1 courtesy of Tony Foster

 

 

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Turquoise Puya

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