Achimenes (pron.: //) is a genus of about 25 species of tropical and subtropical rhizomatous perennial herbs in the flowering plant family Gesneriaceae. They have a multitude of common names such as magic flowers, widow's tears, Cupid's bower, or hot water plant.
According to some authorities, the plant's name may come from the Greek word cheimanos meaning "tender" or "sensitive to cold." Other suggested derivations include "after King Hakhamash of Turkey (Gk. Achaemenes)" ([sic.] presumably Achaemenes/Hakhamanish of Persia?), or it may have been named after the (probably mythical) achaemenis, a plant with alleged magical properties, only named in Pliny's Natural History.
In 1756, the name Achimenes was coined by Patrick Browne (P.Browne), in his The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. In Three Parts, then used by Martin Vahl in 1791. The first publication of the name for the genus that currently bears the name was by South African mycologist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon (Pers.), in November 1806, in the second part of his Synopsis Plantarum.
Range and taxonomy
The genus is native to North America (Mexico) and Central America, with one species (A. erecta) occurring naturally in the West Indies. The largest number of species is found in Mexico. Several species and hybrids are widely cultivated and naturalized outside their native range. A complete list of the species, with their synonyms and geographic distributions, can be found in the Smithsonian Institution's World Checklist of Gesneriaceae.
Two species previously included in Achimenes are now classified in the segregation genus Eucodonia and several phylogenetic studies have supported this separation.
Achimenes species and hybrids are commonly grown as greenhouse plants, or outdoors as bedding plants in subtropical regions. The species have been extensively hybridized, with many of the hybrids involving the large-flowered species A. grandiflora and A. longiflora. Many of the species and their hybrids have large, brightly colored flowers and are cultivated as ornamental greenhouse and bedding plants. They are generally easy to grow as long as their basic requirements are met: a rich well-drained soil, bright indirect light, warmth, constant moisture, and high humidity. They have a winter dormancy and overwinter as scaly rhizomes, which should be kept dry until they sprout again in the spring. Some of the species and their hybrids are moderately hardy and can be grown outdoors year-round in zone 8, or even zone 7 with protection.
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- Johnson, A.T. & Smith, H.A., Plant Names Simplified, 1964, p2, Collingridge
- Coombes, Allen J., The Collingridge Dictionary of Plant Names, 1985, p18, Newnes Books
-  Latin Lookup – online Latin dictionary
-  Weber, A. & Skog, L.E. (2007 onw.): The genera of Gesneriaceae. Basic information with illustration of selected species. Ed. 2. http://www.genera-gesneriaceae.at
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