July 21, 2010

Pretty Garden Angels of Death

Datura and Brugmansia are both known as "Angel's Trumpet". These are tropical plants which have recently become popular here in Minnesota as a showy, fast growing garden annual. I've seen it in backyard gardens, but most disturbing is the increase in use of Datura in public and business plantings. For identification, I believe the Brugmansia flower hangs down, is often colored pink or peach, and grows as a woody shrub, getting 8 ft tall in warm climates. The Datura plant has pure white flowers which point up, and is a fast, low growing annual, flowering freely on new stems.
It's the Datura which I keep seeing in gardens around here.
Both of these plants are deadly hallucinogenics.
Datura, also known as Jimson Weed, Moon Flower, or Thorn Apple is native to Mexico and southern US.
Ingesting the plant has psychological effects lasting for days, and "people have been found wandering without knowing where they are or how they got there"... En Mexico, Brugmansia se llama 'Floripondio'. y Datura se llama 'Toloache'.

There's also a Moonflower Vine (Ipomoea alba) with large white flowers that open in the evening... That's not related to Angel's Trumpet, and is not as toxic. Ipomoea is the Morning Glory family. The small seeds are said to be toxic, and the plant is listed as harmful to cats & dogs. The very poisonous plants discussed above: Datura and Brugmansia, are not vines.
P.S. If you promise not to try anything stupid, here's an extensive article about the history of Datura and Brugmansia being used by native people in Central & South America: http://b-and-t-world-seeds.com/Datura.htm

Here's the link to the Poison Control Plant Guide: http://www.mnpoison.org/index.asp?pageID=116