Chumash: s'akht'utun 'iyukhnuts Español: balsamillo
Origin: Sunny dry slopes and rocky areas
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Flower color: brilliant red, trumpet-shaped
Bloomtime: August - October
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Drought Tolerant: yes
Irrigation: Low water needs
Common names: Hummingbird’s Trumpet; California Fire Chalice
Named: In honor Johann Baptista Josef Zauschner (1737–1799), a professor of medicine and botany in Prague.
California Fuchsias have colors from white, pink to orange and red. Gray or green foliage and wide or narrow leaves. Since hummingbirds, like most birds, have virtually no sense of smell, the flowers that attract them tend to have little or no fragrance, apparently directing their energy into finding flowers with bright colors and certain shapes. Hummingbirds drink nectar, a sweet liquid inside certain flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they normally reject flower types that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is higher. The California Fuchsia has a high sugar content and attracts hummingbirds very well.
This native plant had a unique adaptation to its habitat. In the wild, gophers destroy the original stem and roots routinely, and this simply helps them to propagate or spread. If the plants are growing on slopes, which they prefer in the wild, there would be landslides, mudslides or the natural shedding of rock and dirt from cliffs. Without the stem and root system, all of these give the fuchsia an opportunity to break and spread. It is called balsamillo or balsamea in Spanish. The Chumash name s'akht'utun 'iyukhnuts means "hummingbird sucks it." Chumash sprinkled dried powdered leaves into cuts and sores to heal them. They made a decoction of the leaves to wash sprained limbs.