Few flowers brighten a garden quite the same way as the fuchsia. The beautiful pendants come in a range of colours, though my favourites are the deep, dark pink variety.
Some believe it’s unlucky to take the flowers indoors. Emily at GrowEatGift notes that the fuchsia also provides fairies with a favourite hiding place. Which could explain why it’s unlucky to bring them indoors.
But the fuchsia is also a favourite of the hummingbird. I doubt we get many of them in Newcastle, but it’s nice to leave nectar-producing flowers where creatures can get at them.
Where is the fuchsia from?
It actually comes from South America, having been brought to Britain in 1788. The western world first discovered the fuchsia in 1695. A French Catholic priest named Charles Plumier discovered a strain in the Dominican Republic.
Also known as Lady’s Eardrops, the fuchsia family contains more than 100 species. It’s named after Leonhart Fuchs. This 16th-century German herbalist was also a doctor and a botanical illustrator.
In western Ireland, it’s called ‘deora De’, which translates as God’s Teardrops. It’s an incredibly prolific flower throughout Ireland.
The fuchsia found its way to the Isle of Man in 1820 and it’s worn on Tynwald (Manx National) Day on 5 July. It’s even their preferred floral emblem (the alternative being ragwort).
So come on. What’s the folklore?
The fuchsia doesn’t have the same degree of folklore as a plant like the bluebell. I wonder if that’s because it didn’t appear in Britain until the late 18th century. It’s unlikely that indigenous folklore about the fuchsia was imported along with the plant. Plants like rowan and henbane end up surrounded by folklore through their links to witchcraft.
But it does have some tales associated with it (hence this post).
Some believe the fuchsia represents amiability, anxiety, ‘humble love’ and ‘confiding love’. I’ll be honest – I’m not sure what the last one even means.
But Ellen Dugan notes that, despite its beauty, the fuchsia “symbolizes a warning” (2012, p. 128). It’s best planted in a hanging basket and enchanted to help protect your home.
Claire Nahmad expands on this; apparently, the warning means “Take heed, your beloved is false” (1994, p. 40).
According to Plant-lore.com, it was common in Ireland and Scotland to make a ‘lady’ or ‘fairy’ from the flowers. The petals form a skirt and you take out all but two of the stamens, leaving ‘legs’. It’s easier to see her as a ballerina in the photo below.
Another popular pastime was cutting off the top and sucking out the nectar. Bit painful if you’ve just turned her into a ballerina. Apparently, the berries are also edible so it makes a change for me to feature a plant that won’t kill you.
According to the Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, the fuchsia even has Biblical connections. They relate an ancient story that the fuchsia sprang from the blood of Christ at the foot of the cross. Its pendants dangle because it hangs “its head from sorrow” (2003, p. 124). Harold N. Moldenke even notes that the flower represents the Virgin Mary’s earrings.
Any bride who offered the fuchsia as an offering on her wedding day would enjoy bounteous blessings. She could also wear them in her hair for the same result.
Sadly, that’s all I’ve been able to find! Most of the articles detail the history of the plant or the scope of its many varieties. They do make a wonderful addition to any garden, and they add a brilliant pop of colour to borders and hanging baskets.
If anyone knows any other folk tales or lore associated with the fuchsia, please drop it in the comments below so I can expand the post.
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