While viewing yesterday’s osprey, I chatted with a couple, then shared with them where the white flowers are once again blooming off the beaten path. You’ve seen these before, once in a video and in a macro. But this time I had a bit of a surprise. They knew exactly what these beautiful flowers were and they weren’t what I expected.

The couple told me that these are datura and very poisonous! As for names? Moonflower sounds nice, but devil’s weed, hell’s bells and devil’s trumpet? Not so much.

Datura is a genus of nine species of poisonous vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. They are commonly known as thornapples or jimsonweeds but are also known as devil’s trumpets (not to be confused with angel’s trumpets, which are placed in the closely related genus Brugmansia). Other English common names include moonflower, devil’s weed and hell’s bells. The Mexican common name toloache (also spelled tolguacha) derives from the Nahuatl tolohuaxihuitl, meaning “the plant with the nodding head” (in reference to the nodding seed capsules of Datura species belonging to section Dutra of the genus). Wikipedia

Datura wrap-up waiting to bloom…

All species of Datura are poisonous and potentially psychoactive, especially their seeds and flowers which can cause respiratory depression, arrhythmias, fever, delirium, hallucinations, psychosis, and even death if taken internally. Due to its effects and symptoms, it has occasionally been used not only as a poison, but also as a hallucinogen by various groups throughout history. Traditionally, psychoactive administration of daturas has been most often associated with witchcraft and sorcery or similar practices in many cultures; including the Western world. Certain common datura species have also been used ritualistically as entheogens by some Native American groups. Wikipedia

Does make me wonder why those bees looked so ecstatic! I’m glad they weren’t honey bees. Wouldn’t want to try any of that honey.

So. Spoonbill, osprey, and poisonous flowers. What a day!

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    They are such lovely flowers, and the scent is haunting. I used to have a couple of trees in my Nairobi garden.

  2. peggyjoan42 says:

    Wow – so beautiful, but so deadly.

  3. Dan Antion says:

    That would sure be wild honey. Such a contrast, the beauty of the flower and that description. The photo is gorgeous.

  4. They may be poisonous but they sure are pretty and the wrapped up version is absolutely intriguing.

    • I found the “buds” to be quite something, Judy, and there were lots of them. I have to get back and take look to see how many are now open. I’m enamored of these beauties!!

  5. Geez…that’s a lot danger wrapped up in such a beauty.

  6. pattimoed says:

    Wow, Janet…beautiful and deadly!! It sounds like something out of a fairy tale–an evil potent!!

    • 🙂 It does a bit, Patti. Snow White’s queen as a flower. I do love these flowers and there seems to be only this one spot and plant. I found it on one of my first walks and then couldn’t figure out for ages where I’d seen it.

  7. Wow! That is so interesting Janet!

  8. Ally Bean says:

    A moonflower is sometimes called devil’s weed, hell’s bells, or devil’s trumpet? I’ve never heard those names for it. I feel indignant on its behalf. Such trash talking!

    • People for the Ethical Treatment of Datura (PETD) are incensed and planning a law suit as we speak. If it doesn’t work, they’ll just poison everyone. 🙂

  9. It sounds like a perfect day to me! The flower is beautiful and its properties interesting! Thanks for the information.

    • It was a wonderful day, Deborah. I’ve been walking along the canal the last few days to get exercise walks (not much to grab my attention for photos) but I have to get back to see how many have blossomed.

  10. My horse ate some leaves from this plant before. I had to keep him in dark room for 3 days. Good thing I had a shed with a dirt floor and doors. He was extremely thirsty and very unstable on his feet, wanted to lean on me anytime I was in there checking on him. Thankfully, he did recover. I knew it was what he had eaten because his breath smelled strongly of peanut butter. They grow around here, but I thought horses didn’t eat poisonous plants? He was younger, so maybe that’s why. But the trip didn’t look enjoyable to me at all.

  11. They’re so pretty and yet so dangerous. I just love it when I come across someone
    with information about a flower or plant. A great day for you. Nicely captured, Janet.

    • Thanks, Issy. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. That’s more information than I usually copy from elsewhere, but it was so interesting I figured why try to just re-write it. 🙂

  12. haoyando says:

    Remember I started to imagine things after taking some honey the other day. Now I know why.

  13. Amy says:

    Beautiful! Poisonous… so unexpected. Thank you, Janet for the information.

  14. de Wets Wild says:

    Like one of those beautiful but deadly spies you see in the movies…

  15. Did you know that the name jimsonweed arose as a simplified pronunciation of Jamestown weed? It was in Jamestown, in colonial times, that a group of soldiers cooked and ate some of those plants, and then acted crazy for 11 days. At least they didn’t die, as a few people still do each year.

  16. Ja, when I read this off line – with zero images loaded – I knew what a lovely flower it would be.. And wow, a lovely serving of Georgia Okeeffe -worthy images!

    A few months ago I spotted this same species growing in an empty lot. It was difficult to photograph and I looked forward to going back for better photos – and the lot had been cleared. Twice it tried to grow back, and twice it was cut back with all other vegetation – and now it appears to have given up…

    Yes, it’s deadly in the wrong hands, but it’s oh so lovely!

    • That comparison makes me very happy, Lisa. Thank you. Deadly or sharp or sometimes both seems to be a theme out here. My husband was cycling today along the canal and came up a rattlesnake sunning itself on the path. 😦 Luckily he saw it in time and was able to slowly get around it. Never a dull moment. The oleander are deadly as well, but there are lots and lots of them here, sometimes forming walls of trees/bushes (depending on how you trim them as they grow.) They’re also quite attractive.