I used to grow these flowers when I was a kid. I remember going to a gardening store and being enchanted by these large white trumpet looking flowers on a pack of seeds while browsing the store with my grandmother. Although I enjoyed gardening at the time, I had not yet learned much about individual plants and of course, I obviously did not know much about the uncommon plant known as the white devil’s trumpet flower.
Well, being the curious kid that I was, I ended up doing some research on the flower and found out that it was not the innocent flower it seemed.
The origin of the name datura lies in India. It’s relative species datura metel is considered sacred to devout followers of Shiva in the Shaivism religion. Other names for datura include: Pricklyburr, thorn-apple, indian-apple, moon-flower, nacazcul, tolguache, and toloache,
While the enchanting white trump-like flowers are their most well-known feature, they also have a scent which can smell noxious to some. This scent is particularly strong at night when the flowers bloom. This is the reason why these flowers are known as ‘moon-flowers’. This certainly isn’t your typical bouquet of roses, and if you’re looking to give flowers as a gift, I would not consider these suitable. They do however look pretty and can be used as an ornamental.
Mystical Traditions of the Devil’s Trumpet Flower
The devil’s trumpet has a long history of mystical and shamanic attribution. The seeds were often used to altar their states of mind. However, by modern standards, datura plants are actually considered quite poisonous and can cause delirium and hallucinations. Although it was known as a spiritual aid in some traditions, it also had many negative side-effects (such as disorientation, delirium, nausea, hyperthermia, blurry vision, dry mouth, hallucinations, and amnesia) and was not generally known to be a pleasant experience. It was/is also nearly impossible for these practitioners to gauge the dosage and it would often result in death.
The devil’s trumpet flower contains potent compounds such as atropine, hyoscyamine, hyoscine, and scopolamine.
Datura is Dangerous to Animals and Children
These compounds also result in the plant being dangerous to animals. Although most animals avoid it due to it’s noxious scent, occasionally farm animals would graze upon it and begin acting erratically, and sometimes even dying. The implications of this in a modern society are quite severe. Even if you do not own grazing livestock, this plant can still be toxic to wildlife, pets, and even children. Cats are known to sometimes munch on the leaves and wind up sick. Similarly, hummingbirds can also be effected by these plants. There are many other examples as well.
I really do love how these plants look, and the traditions of their use are quite interesting, but if you are considering growing this flower, it is important that you understand the risks.
Other plants from the datura family are typically no better and it’s cousin datura stramonium (known as jimson-weed or jamestown-weed) also has a colorful history. It is referred to this due to British soldiers unwittingly consuming the plant in Jamestown, Virginia. They ended up spending 11 days in delirium.
Please do not even think about consuming this flower. You may even want to think twice about growing it.
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section.
This is a guest post by James White.
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