Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Datura Has Grown Up

You may recall that this spring, frustrated by my attempts to grow datura from seed, I bought a seedling up at Flagstaff Native Plant & Seed. Pragmatic, yes. Nonetheless, a defeat -- after all, the plant grows wild in my immediate neighborhood and I've collected plenty of seed over the years. In any event, the seedling has prospered and is now a largish plant. Big enough to produce one blossom this summer and possibly many more in the years ahead.

Here is the large bud, looking like a candlestick.

The blossom has emerged and is thinking of uncoiling.

I waited patiently the evening that the flower was to open; there was only a small amount of movement. I had once before caught a datura blossom as it suddenly sprang open at dusk. A wonderful sight -- and wonderful scent, as well, like many night blooming plants. This particular night, I lost patience, figuring that I could photograph the open flower the next morning.

Hah! No such luck -- in the morning, the blossom was spent!

I had to make do with another plant just up the street from me -- a plant that has grown wild by the roadside for several years, with neither watering nor other TLC.

Developing seed pods on the nearby plant; my own datura has one healthy seed pod. Easy to see why the name thorn apple. Other names for the plant include jimson weed, gypsum weed, loco weed, jamestown weed, angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, devil's snare, according to Wikipedia. It is found in almost every state and belongs to the solanaceae family, which includes everything from belladonna to tomatoes, potatoes, chilis, tobacco and deadly nightshade.

BTW, I found this reproduction from Georgia O'Keefe among my pictures. Not only beautiful, the datura is seductively dangerous. "Most parts of the plant contain atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. It has a long history of [medicinal and magical] use both in S. America and Europe and is known for causing delerious states and poisonings in uninformed users," notes the Erowid Organization, whose pages are concerned with hallucinogenic plants. There is, of course, also an association of fanciers and breeders, the American Brugmansia & Datura Society. For the record, brugmansia is the name given to tree daturas, native to South America.


Olivia Kroth said...

Hello Julie,

I love the smell of datura blossoms, it is so seductive and sweet. We call it "Engelstrompete" over here, "Angels' Trumpet". Probably angels blow it when you are on your way to heaven because of eating datura poison!

quilteddogs said...

Is that what this is? I just took a photo over the weekend of a seed pod and had no idea what it would produce.

Granny J said...

Olivia -- thanks for the explanation of the reference to angels in some of the names.

QD -- yes, indeed, that's it. Certainly photogenic, isn't it? BTW, I always wash my hands carefully after handling any part of the plant. Don't know if that's really necessary, but there you have it.

SBird said...

Sacred datura is one of my favorite plants...that smell is like buttercream icing in the air on summer nights. In Mexico, there are special "sacred datura handlers" you can call in to remove the 'noxious weed' from your land...they believe not just that it's poisionous, but that it's really bad juju to pull it up...hence, the datura handlers to do it for you, so you don't do damage to your soul.

Gloves, indeed.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Abe, over at My Birds Blog, (GGJ, I haven't learned to link in a comment yet!) had pictures of a drunken bumblebee. He says they stagger around after imbibing heavenly blue morning glory. I wonder if datura affects the moths that way!

Granny J said...

Sbird -- Such a spectacular flower needs very special handling, obviously. I hadn't expected the soul to be involved, however.

Brain -- I'm on my way to see those drunken bees, I am. When I get there, I'll add a comment with a link.

Granny J said...

Brain -- I found Old Man Lincoln (Abe) & his several web sites, but they don't have search windows, so all I can do is report that he has some very lovely & enviable bird photos here. And I should mention that I found two datura plants on my walk to Albertson's, at the site of the old apartment that burned, which are about to open blossoms. Wonder if the thorn apple will have time to develop before the first frost.

smilnsigh said...

Never heard of this but it certainly is lovely.


smilnsigh said...

And oh how wonderful a scent they must have! An evening bloomer. Very interesting plants.

P.S. Yes, I could have written this all in one comment, couldn't I have? lol

Granny J said...

SnS -- yes, lovely and very dangerous, which makes it twice as interesting!

Lucy said...

Wow to that picture of one opening!
Is it the same as jimson weed? and related to our bindweed and presumably those amazing handkerchief trees. Also what that silly old sausage Castenada allowed that naughty Don Juan to ply him with and get him all excited...

Granny J said...

Oh my, Lucy! Jimson weed, yes, but I believe that bindweed (at least the kind we have here) is of the morning glory persuasion, not a solanaceae. And what the heck are handkerchief trees??? So it wasn't just peyote for Castenada.

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