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Devil's Trumpet Flower

is an annual shrubby plant with white trumpet-shaped flowers

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Devil's Trumpet Flower is Pretty and Dangerous

  • Mar 10, 2010

Devil's Trumpet FlowerLast year I received a white trumpet flower plant from a friend and I liked it right from the beginning. I mean you have large white blooms and nice foliage (a photo of mine is pictured to the right).  It is what my little flower garden needed: some green with a Pop of white. What's not to like, right? Then as I always do, I did some research on the internet, and I found out some interesting information about the Datura Inoxia (Devil's Trumpet) plant that I now possess.  This plant has a dark side.

The most obvious item is the ominous Devil's Trumpet name. Many have heard of the Angel's Trumpet flower, in which the blooms droop down. Well, my friends, the Devil's Trumpet blooms upward as in a trumpet from not heaven but hell. Devil’s trumpet is grown in all but the coldest climates as a flowering ornamental. There are white, purple, and yellow varieties with large, single and double blossoms available. Devil’s trumpet grows naturally in disturbed areas such as eroded sites, old fields, vacant lots, overgrazed pastures and rangeland, roadsides and abandoned roadbeds, and fencerows. Apparently, disturbance and reduced competition are required for the plant to become established and grow. A wide variety of well-drained soils on both igneous and sedimentary parent materials are suitable.

From ancient times continuing to the present, the taking of Datura tissues, particularly the seeds, was used in shamanistic rituals as a path to enlightenment. Today, people frequently experiment with it for the hallucinogenic effect, but the results are so unpleasant (dark visions, disorientation, amnesia, blurred vision, dry mouth, and incontinence) that they seldom recommend the experience. Overdoses can result in death. The plant has been used to treat impotence, asthma, diarrhea, as an analgesic, to control fever, kill parasites, and as a drug for criminal purposes. Devil’s trumpet contains a host of phytoactive chemicals including atropine, hyoscyamine, hyoscine, scopolamine, norscopolamine, meteloidine, hydroxy-6- hyoscyamine, tiglic esters of dihydroxytropine, and a number of withanolides. It causes erratic behavior and even death of livestock that have eaten it, but it is seldom a problem for pastured animals because they carefully avoid consuming it.

Hummingbirds sometimes visit the flowers, but are affected by the alkaloids in the nectar and must limit their consumption. Honeybees are apparently unaffected. The flowers have an intense night fragrance, which perhaps helps attract night-flying moths.

No one has been harmed by my Devil's Trumpet flower and my cat doesn't pay any attention to it at all.  I like my Devil's Trumpet flower (I live on the wild side, I guess), but with all that is going on with this plant, I couldn't exactly recommend it to everyone.  Come to think of it, I guess it has Devil in its name for more reasons than one.  Own it with caution.  You've been warned.

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More Devil's Trumpet Flower reviews
Quick Tip by . March 10, 2010
posted in Green Living
A pretty white flower that couldn't be easier to grow. However, it does contain toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Be careful.
About the reviewer
Clay Miller ()
Ranked #50
Graphic designer/illustrator and owner of Miller Creative Designs, LLC who on Lunch.com likes to shareinsight on Greenand health insight, ideas and other tidbits.Creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen .com& … more
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The Devil’s Trumpet (Datura inoxia) is an annual shrubby plant that typically reaches a height of 0.6 to 1.5 meters. Its stems and leaves are covered with short and soft grayish hairs, giving the whole plant a grayish appearance. It has elliptic entire-edged leaves with pinnate venation. All parts of the plant emit a foul odor similar to rancid peanut butter when crushed or bruised, although most people find the fragrance of the flowers to be quite pleasant when they bloom at night.
The flowers are white, trumpet-shaped, 12–19 cm long. They first grow upright, and later incline downward. It flowers from early summer until late fall.
All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans and other animals, including livestock and pets. In some places it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants.
The fruit is an egg-shaped spiny capsule, about 5 cm in diameter. It splits open when ripe, dispersing the seeds. Another means of dispersal is by the fruit spines getting caught in the fur of animals, which then carry the fruit far from the mother plant. The seeds have hibernation capabilities, and can last for years in the soil. The seeds, as well as the entirety of this plant, are also hallucinogenic, and have a high probability of overdose.
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