Fuchsia is a shrubby or drooping plant belonging to the Onagraceae family. This family of plants is distinguished by its colourful and attractive flowers, its simple and alternate leaves, its fruit production, its geographical distribution and its use for decoration or the production of food and essential oils.
If we do an autopsy of the fuchsia, we must segment the plant into two parts: the above-ground part and the below-ground part.
The above-ground part of the fuchsia consists of the following parts:
- The leaves are vital parts of most plants and have many important functions for the survival of the plant. Fuchsia leaves are the main organ of photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight into energy that the plant can use. Chlorophyll in the leaves captures light and uses its energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, which provide the plant's food. Fuchsia leaves can also play an important role in regulating water loss through evaporation, thanks to their surface covered by stomata. Stomata are openings that can open or close to control the amount of water evaporated by the fuchsia, which is crucial for its survival in drought conditions.
- The fuchsia stem has a function of supporting and elevating the leaves and flowers, but it also has the function of transporting fluids between the roots and shoots through its xylem and phloem. It also serves as a storage organ for nutrients. Finally, it serves to produce new living tissue (meristems).
- Fuchsia flowers are said to be hermaphroditic because they have both a female part (the pistil) and a male part (the stamens). This is how it is composed:
- The pistil is the female part of the flower and plays a key role in the reproduction of the fuchsia. It contains a style, a stigma and an ovule. The style is a long stalk that connects the stigma, the part that collects pollen, to the ovule, which contains the embryo of the future seed. The stigma awaits the arrival of a pollinator to receive the pollen grains from the stamens, allowing fertilisation and seed production.
- The stamens are the male parts of the fuchsia flower and their main function is to produce and disseminate the pollen grains needed for pollination and reproduction of the plant. Each stamen has an anther that produces the pollen grains. In fuchsia, the stamens are often shorter than the pistil, the female part of the flower.
- The main function of the fuchsia petals is to play a key role in attracting pollinators. They are located below the sepals and form the perianth of the flower. The petals are often more colourful and softer than the sepals, making them more attractive to pollinators such as bees. The petals can also help protect the flower by covering the stamens and pistil.
- The sepals of fuchsia, being harder and sturdier than the petals, protect the developing flower. They form the calyx of the flower and are located above the petals. Once the flower opens, the sepals can play an additional role in attracting pollinators by presenting an attractive colour or shape. The sepals may also help to protect the flower by being harder and tougher than the petals.
- The roots are the vital organ of the fuchsia and have several functions that are crucial for its survival. They mainly serve to fix the plant in the soil and maintain its balance. They absorb water and nutrients through a process called osmosis. When water is available in the soil around the root, it enters the root cells through a difference in osmotic potential between the soil and the root cells. This difference in potential is caused by the different concentration of solutes in the soil and in the root cells. When water enters the root cells, it takes dissolved nutrients such as minerals and nutrient salts with it. Roots also have structures called rootlets that are specially adapted to take up water and nutrients. The root cells have conducting channels that allow the transport of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. Once the nutrients are absorbed by the roots, they are transported to other parts of the plant to be used in the process of photosynthesis and in the growth of the plant. It is often said that it is better to under-water your fuchsia than to over-water, because when you see the symptoms of an over-watered fuchsia (e.g. yellowing of the leaves and leaf drop) it means that you have drowned the roots. It is then often too late to react and save it. On the other hand, if you water your fuchsia in a limited way, you will see the foliage wither and as soon as you water it again, it will regain its turgidity a few minutes later. Finally, some fuchsias have a root system that can withstand frost.