A Minute in the Garden: A series from A Gardener’s Notebook
The first in a series of garden minutes from The Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.
Iochroma is a genus of about 34 species of shrubs and small trees found in the forests of South America. They range from Colombia to Argentina or when certain species are excluded (see below) from Colombia to Peru. Their hummingbird pollinated flowers are tubular or trumpet-shaped, and may be blue, purple, red, yellow, or white, becoming pulpy berries. The cupular calyx is inflated in some species. The leaves are alternate, simple, and entire.
Iochromas are cultivated as flowering ornamentals and in cooler zones (zones 7-8/9) make useful patio shrubs for summer display or conservatory plants. The majority are not frost hardy and must be overwintered under protection. In warmer zones (zones 9-10) they can be used as landscape plants. They are commonly trained as standards (topiary) to control their size and shape. Iochroma flowers attract hummingbirds (Americas only) and bees to gardens.
Like many plants in the Solanaceae, Iochroma species contain phytochemicals with potential pharmaceutical value but the genus has not been exhaustively studied in this respect.Iochroma fuchsioides is taken by the medicine men of the Kamsa Indians in the Colombian Andes for difficult diagnoses the unpleasant side effects lasting several days (Schultes & Hoffman 1992). A variety of withanolides (Alfonso et al. 1993) and hydroxycinnamic acid amides (Sattar et al. 1990) have been isolated from Iochroma species.
The family Solanaceae is further divided into subfamilies, tribes and subtribes. Iochroma is in the subtribe Iochrominae along with the genera Acnistus, Dunalia, Eriolarynx, Saracha, andVassobia. — Wikipedia.org