(Fuchsia excorticata). Fuchsia, a genus of about 100 species, is almost confined to the west Americas from Mexico to Fuegia. The only other species are four occurring in New Zealand, and one in Tahiti which is closely related to F. excorticata. Of the New Zealand species, three are small – one is a liane. The fourth, F. excorticata, is a small forest tree which grows to about 30 ft high. It occurs throughout all three islands and Auckland Island. It is common in lowland to lower montane forest, especially along margins and in damp valleys. Groves of fuchsia in the dark, wet valleys are a typical feature of steep mountain forest.
Bark is light brown, thin and flaking, and readily peels off revealing a smooth, greenish stem beneath. Leaves are lighter in colour than those of most New Zealand forest trees, and grow up to 4 in. long on slender petioles. They are broadly lanceolate in shape. The flowers are solitary and pendulous and are of different forms depending on the relative lengths of the stamens and style. The flower structure is of considerable interest. The fruit is an eggshaped, blackish-brown or black berry about an inch long, relished by the Maoris and known as konini. The timber is strong and tough and has a high tannin content, but is scarcely ever used. It is very difficult to burn even when dry.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.