Datura – Angel or Devil’s Trumpet?

October 14, 2008

Mary Devore fromTexas has written to Diana on the subject of Daturas...

Mary Devore fromTexas has written to Diana on the subject of Daturas:
Dear Diana,
I was given a beautiful purple with white Devil's Trumpet which is almost 5 feet tall…it blooms its head off and I just love it!
My question is about the seed pods – there are many, but they are showing no sign of breaking open.
When can I take the pod for seeds for planting - could you give me an idea how it is supposed to look so I can get seed?
I'm afraid to take them now, because they are nowhere near breaking up although some are as large as a small lime.
Also, I have read that every part of the plant is poisonous...yet I have heard there can be medicinal benefit from the leaves.
The lady who gave me the plant called it an Angel's Trumpet...I have heard the white one called Angel's Trumpet, but I had never seen a purple and white one before.

Hi Mary,
we share a love of Daturas – they are fascinating plants with beautiful flowers and gorgeous perfumes.
I have had several different colours and have painted them often for their startling beauty.
Let’s start with the seed pods -
They are such good growers that it’s worthwhile breaking open a seed pod and putting the seeds in a pot of damp compost inside a plastic bag in a warm, dark place to see if they germinate.
If they do, grow them on the way you would grow any slightly tender seedling and quite soon you’ll have new plants.
If they don’t, leave the seed heads on the main plant and try them again in a month or two.
They are poisonous plants (but so are very many others, including some that we really love as houseplants - so treat them with a little respect – use gloves if you want to prune or remove side shoots, and wash your hands after handling the seed pods or any other part of the plant.
Daturas (also known, as Brugmansias) belong to a huge family – the Solanums, of which potatoes, tomatoes, chillis and bell peppers are some of the best known vegetables and beautiful climbers like Solanum Jasminoides one of the many flowers.
I’m sure you know that you should never eat potatoes which have turned green under their skins - as that is the poison common to this entire family.
The only time I wouldn’t have a Datura in the house or conservatory is if I had to worry about a small inquisitive child or one of those cats that can’t resist chewing any leaf it sees.
As for names, the upward facing lilac flower is often called Devil’s Trumpet, and the drooping ones are usually called Angel’s Trumpet.
There are many gorgeous colours (and some doubles), so perhaps you might like to start a collection!
Lastly - if anyone is thinking of growing them – they are very hungry for plant food and very thirsty for water.
Feed them regularly when in growth and you’ll have sensational results!
As always,
Happy Horticulture!

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