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Petunia exserta by Scott Zona - 003.jpg
Petunia exserta
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Petunioideae

Petunioideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Solanaceae, the nightshades. It contains thirteen genera, as follows :[1][2][3][4]

The Patagonian genera Benthamiella, Combera and Pantacantha merit referral from subfamily Petunioideae to subfamily Goetzeoideae of the Solanaceae.

Ornamental use[edit]

The genera Brunfelsia, Plowmania ( see above ), Fabiana, Nierembergia and Petunia furnish garden plants bearing attractive flowers. Brunfelsia and Plowmania are genera of tropical shrubs requiring glasshouse protection in temperate climate areas; Fabiana species are hardy shrubs; Nierembergia species are dwarf, hardy herbaceous perennials or sub-shrubs, and Petunia × atkinsiana has yielded a huge variety of flower colours, forms and patterns that have made it deservedly a favourite summer bedding plant. Petunia is by far the best-known genus of the subfamily in popular temperate zone horticulture.[10]

Medicinal use[edit]

Brunfelsia pauciflora - Brazilian species, grown as pot-plant in glasshouse, Chelsea Physic Garden

Fabiana imbricata ( Chilean vernacular name pichi ) is used as a diuretic and digestive in the folk medicine of Chile. Studies have revealed it to contain sesquiterpenes possessing gastroprotective properties.[11]

A number of Brunfelsia species have played very important rôles in the folk medicine of peoples indigenous to South America, having been used to treat conditions as diverse as syphilis, rheumatism, yellow fever and snakebite. The roots are the most effective parts of the plants and possess diuretic and diaphoretic ( = sweat-inducing ) properties. Medications prepared from Brunfelsia species have the curious effect of producing the sensation of chills, this being the rationale for their folk use in the treatment of fevers.[12]

Hallucinogenic use[edit]

Species belonging to the genera Brunfelsia, and Petunia have been employed as entheogens in South America,[12] while the species Nierembergia hippomanica has been reported to have toxic and hallucinogen-like ( whence the specific name hippomanica ) effects upon horses and to have similarities in its chemistry to that of the genus Brunfelsia.[13][14][15]

Note : the unusual epithet hippomanica is a compound of the Greek elements ἵππος (= (h)ippos ) horse and μανία (= mania ) insanity / frenzy - hence "sending horses insane". Botanist John Miers references in the species name a plant hippomanes of uncertain identity mentioned in the idyll of Theocritus and the works of Theophrastus - so called either because horses were madly fond of it, or because it sent them mad if they fed upon it. The Greek name hippomanes was also referenced in the creation of the genus name Hippomane for an extremely toxic genus in the Euphorbiaceae.[16]

Petunia violacea Lindl. has been reported to be used as a hallucinogen in Ecuador, where it has the vernacular name shanín. The drug is said to cause sensations of levitation and flight - a type of hallucination often associated with the use of the more toxic hallucinogenic plants of the deliriant type e.g. the tropane-containing Atropa and Hyoscyamus - active constituents of the witches' flying ointments.[17]



  1. ^ D'Arcy, William G. (1986). Solanaceae. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-05780-6.
  2. ^ The Biology and Taxonomy of the Solanaceae edited by Hawkes, J.G., Lester, R.N. and Skelding, A.D. (Linnean Society Symposium Series Number 7) Published for the Linnean Society of London by Academic Press 1979 ISBN 0-12-333150-1
  3. ^ a b c d Armando T. Hunziker: The Genera of Solanaceae. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell, Liechtenstein 2001. ISBN 3-904144-77-4
  4. ^ Olmstead, R.G.; Migid, H.A. (2008). "A molecular phylogeny of the solanaceae". Taxon Taxon. 57 (4): 1159–1181. Retrieved 11.41 on 13/3/19
  5. ^ a b c Flora Argentina : Flora Vascular de la República Argentina Volume 13 Solanaceae 1st ed. pub San Isidro : Instituto de Botánica Darwinion; Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biologia Vegetal, Argentina, 2013, Series ISBN 978-987-28700-0-3 Volume 13 ISBN 978-987-28700-3-4, volume editor-in-chief Gloria E. Barboza.
  6. ^ Marijn van den Brink flower photo website Retrieved at 10.44 on 18/3/19.
  7. ^ Leo Ridano Patagonia Argentina photo Pantacantha ameghinoi Retrieved at 11.14 on 15/3/19.
  8. ^ Solanaceae Source : Plowmania Retrieved 11.46 on 14/3/19.
  9. ^ Lotte Burkhardt: Verzeichnis eponymischer Pflanzennamen. Erweiterte Edition. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin Berlin 2018, Retrieved at 19.19 on 14/3/19.
  10. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
  11. ^ Reyes, Maribel; Schmeda-Hirschmann, Guillermo (2005). "gastroprotective activity of sesquiterpene derivatives from fabiana imbricata". PTR Phytotherapy Research. 19 (12): 1038–1042. Retrieved 12.05 on 13/3/19.
  12. ^ a b Schultes, Richard Evans; Hofmann, Albert (1979). The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens (2nd ed.). Springfield Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, pps. 278-283.
  13. ^ Wink, Michael and Van Wyk, Ben-Erik, Mind-Altering and Poisonous Plants of the World - A Scientifically Accurate Guide to 1200 Toxic and Intoxicating Plants, pub. Timber Press 2008 ISBN 978-0-88192-952-2 page 71 ( note on compound present in both Brunfelsia and Nierembergia ).
  14. ^ eFlora SA : Electronic Flora of South Australia, Retrieved at 12.37 on 13/3/19.
  15. ^ John Miers London Journal of Botany, full text online, page ( heading ? ) 168, Retrieved at 13.02 on 13/3/19.
  16. ^ Theophrastus of Eresus: Sources on biology edited by Robert W. Sharples, Pamela M. Huby, William Wall Fortenbaugh Retrieved 00.19 on 14/3/19.
  17. ^ Schultes, Richard Evans Hallucinogenic Plants a Golden Guide, pub. Golden Press N.Y., 1976, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number : 74-21666, page 150.