Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Angels and Devils

I guess you could say, this blog is about something as old as time itself. Actually it is about a couple of different flowers that, at one time, where in the same genus. Even to this day, I feel, they are incorrectly lumped together. With that being said, the fact that they have very similar growing requirements AND there is the American Brugmansia & Datura Society, I can understand the confusion. They ARE in the same family, Solanaceae. Does this family sound familiar to you? It should, it is the same one that has Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peppers and Eggplants.
Though they are of different genus' Datura (Devils Trumpet) and Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet),there are numerous hybrids of both, and, like I said, they are all grown pretty much the same.
Let's start with the Devils Trumpet, Datura metel. The reason for the name Devils Trumpet? The flowers point up, as if trumpeting from down below. It is native to southeast Asia, including southern China and India. It has become naturalized as a roadside and waste area weed in many parts of the tropics, including Australia where it is listed as a noxious weed. It has an upright posture, attaining a height of 3-5 feet. It will grow in pretty much any kind of soil and prefers full sun. They are Zoned from 7-10 and can be treated as annuals anywhere North of Zone 7. It is propagated mostly by seeds. This is what the seed pod will look like before it ripens:

This is a sample of what the flower looks like:

Flowers come in white, yellow, purple and even blue, and many cultivars have double or triple flowers.
Double Purple Datura:

Cultivars with purple flowers have dark purple stems; otherwise stems are green.
All parts of the Devils Trumpet(as well as the other species of Datura) are poisonous and could be fatal if ingested by humans, livestock or pets. Eating even a small amount of leaves, flowers or fruits could cause severe headache, hallucination, or even unconsciousness. Cases of deliberate poisoning have been linked to various species of Datura.

The Angels Trumpet, Brugmansia suaveolens. I bet you can guess why these are called Angels Trumpet? You got it! The flowers hang down like a Trumpet from Heaven. They are semi woody shrubs or small trees that can get to be 6-15 feet tall. They are native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil.
Like the Devils Trumpet, Angels like full sun, and pretty much any soil. It is zoned for Zones 10-12. In zones 8-9, it dies to the ground in Winter and resprouts in spring. Because of this it rarely exceeds 8 feet in height. Plants that are repeatedly killed to the ground Winter after Winter often weaken and die in a few years. Mine seem to be doing very well after many years, so take that last sentence with a grain of salt. The flowers are usually white but may be yellow or pink. There will be people that argue with me about colors. There are probably many hybrids out there, I have only ever seen the three colors that I listed. Propagation is by cuttings. Supposedly, according to research, it can also be propagated by seeds, mine have never produced seed pods, so the jury is still out on this. I often wonder if this is a result of them being confused and the Brugmansia does NOT really produce seeds. The Angel Trumpet is an exotic and tropical looking shrub that makes a striking specimen in the landscape or a prized container plant on the patio.

I will post a warning for this one also. All parts of this and other Angel Trumpets are narcotic and poisonous. Some people have ingested or smoked Angel Trumpet for its narcotic effects, and some of those people are no longer with us. The use of Angel Trumpet as a landscape plant is banned in some municipalities.
So next time you see one of these flowers or somebody wants to know what it is, remember this: Datura (Devils Trumpet) points up......Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) points down.
Happy Growing!


  1. Thanks for the very informative post! Although I grow my share of poisonous plants (like gloriosa lily or blood lily) I'll probably just choose to admire this one at botanical gardens. Great photos by the way.

  2. Hey great stuff, thank you for sharing this useful information and i will let know my friends as well.
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  4. Thank you for the wonderful post on Devil's Trumpet and photos. . I bought one that was 2 feet tall at the farmers market and was already blooming. I was told it was a moon flower, but did not think that was right. I found your post while trying to find information on how to plant the seeds that I saved from last year. Any advice?

    1. I have a species of datura that blooms at night. My grandmother had them when I was a child. She called them "moon flowers" because they bloom at night and close the next day when the sun hits them.