Still known by its former name “Datura”, this species is part of the Brugmansia genus. Native to South America, it is a shrub plant, unlike the Datura who, while closely related, are herbaceous plants.
The genus Brugmansia is dedicated to Dutch Natural History professor Sebald Justin Brugmans (1763-1819). Arborea means “tree-shaped” in Latin.
Description and flowering period
Brugmansia arborea is a perennial shrub which rapidly reaches heights of up to 4 or 5 meters. The angels trumpets takes its name from its trumpet-shaped flowers. Creamy-white coloured and diffusing an intoxicating perfume at night, its pendulous corollas have recurved margins, terminating in 5 slender upwards tips. They are extremely attractive to moths. The foliage is deciduous and the fruits are smooth elongated capsules, containing large brown seeds.
It requires a rich yet free-draining soil with a dry period in the winter months and a full sun position sheltered from winds. It tolerates occasional light frosts.
- Medicinal and spiritual uses: Whole parts of the plant are toxic! The leaves, flowers and seeds were used as a psychotropic drug during rituals in which Shamans used the plant to foresee the future and communicate with their tribe’s ancestors. In Peru, it was used as an anaesthetic. The consumption of this plant, due to its scopolamine and other alkaloids content, induces deliriums and hallucinations which can ultimately result in comatose states or even death.
The species Brugmansia arborea is considered Extinct in the wild by the I.U.C.N. (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Brugmansia species are still often mistakenly called Datura: nowadays, the genus Brugmansia consists of shrubby species with pendulous flowers while the genus Datura consists only of annual or perennial herbaceous species with upright or horizontal flowers.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN