San Francisco Botanical Garden is a year-round pollinator's paradise. Our relatively mild coastal climate encourages the
activity of nectar-seeking birds and bees throughout our winter months, and we have their food supply
in hearty quantities. With our diverse collection of plant species from around the globe, there's
always something in bloom. This season, the Garden's
Iochroma species strut their stuff, adding communicative pops of color to our slowly-fading,
green backdrop indicating an energy-rich meal for our small, winged residents.
Iochroma consists of 19 accepted species, with assessment focusing on at least as many additional
species names to confirm their status as unique, additional species or as synonyms. Iochroma is in
the Solanaceae family, and thus a relative of the nightshade and potato, among other familiar relatives.
As with other members of this family, plant parts can be toxic. Flower color on our Garden specimens
ranges from white to red-orange to varying shades of purple. Iochroma tend to grow as multiple-trunked,
clump-forming shrubs to small trees. They can be sensitive to cold temperatures, but selections /hybrids
are available that are rated as hardy to 5 to 10 F.
Iochroma species are endemic to South America; ranging from Colombia to Argentina. Certain species
have been used medicinally by native South American tribes.
If you're fortunate to cross paths with the plant in the Garden, keep your eyes and ears alert for a hummingbird or two.
They are seasonal favorites for these beaked beauties, and with some patience, you may find yourself
a perfect photo opportunity as they reach deep into the flower for a sweet sip. Long beaks for long,
tubular flowers, they are perfectly matched.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text by Corey Barnes and Profile by Mona Bourell. Photos by Joanne Taylor and Mona Bourell.