petunia, any plant of the genus Petunia, South American herbs of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family). The common garden petunias, planted also in window boxes, are all considered hybrids of white-flowered and violet-flowered species from Argentina. The plants are of a straggling habit and produce an abundance of large, funnel-shaped, fragrant blossoms. Petunias are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Polemoniales, family Solanaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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