Friday, September 26, 2008

Infamous Datura: The Plant of Zombies and Angels

Datura metel

Fragrant, beautiful and deadly the Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it. I am suspicious about a plant known as Devil's Trumpet or Zombie Cucumber. Then again, would garden nurseries sell it if it really is the magic potion of evil it is trumpeted to be?

Datura in a pot with a gargoyle statue
Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it.

datura in a pot with a gargoyle
Datura also known as Angels Trumpet

A waft of my Datura's fragrance is both beautiful and disgusting. Sometimes I like its heavy, mysterious scent hanging in the air. Other times I find the scent cloying, smothering and nauseating.

Datura also known as Thorn Apple

True, the Datura is beautiful with its unusual "thorn apple" fruits and its trumpet flowers of swirls and ruffles. But, frankly, I am often repulsed by its morbid weirdness and avoid looking at it.

The Sinister History of The Datura

The history of the Datura as
deadly narcotic,
zombie food,
shaman's potion,
witches brew,
are well documented.

One of its many common names,
Jimson weed
is because of its recorded crazy effect
on British soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.

A plant that can both compel and repel me - very interesting - gotta love it. But I still don't trust it. So the Datura sits on the porch in a pot guarded by a gargoyle where I can keep my eye on it.

Solanaceae Datura metel - BEWARE


nefaeria said...

I love Datura! Admittedly, a part of the appeal for me is the lore and reputation it has.

Oh, and I love your cute little gargoyle. It’s the perfect companion for the Devil’s Apple *winks*



My Mother's Garden said...

Great photos!
I find this plant to be alluring and odd at the same time too. The statement you make in placing the gargoyle in the container is perfect for the upcoming Halloween season. The seed pods are bizarre and beautiful, I think I will make a garden sphere similar to one someday.
I have this one in purple and cream and another miniature version that is lavender.

I enjoyed your post today!


Crafty Gardener said...

Your photos look great with your blog name on them. Good work.

Kathryn/ said...

Fabulous post! Love it! Love your creativity, imagination and photos. Well done!

And is that your gorgeous Australian shepherd? Wow!

I'll be back!

Philip Bewley said...

I love how you take a plant and reveal all the qualities it has, from the past to the present. You make it all so mysterious and yet with present it with such a great sense of humor!
I have long been interested in the uses of plants and the lore around them. You take us on a guided tour where a plant in a pot tells the story of zombies!Perfect for a ghost story on these lengthening nights!

West Coast Island Gardener said...

Laurel -

I delight in the treats of interest your blog surprises me with each time I visit.

Go raibh míle maith agat, Laurel!
(If Slainte means you have Eire in your veins - otherwise 1,000 thanks to you)

A Datura - mourning purple at that - was too much of a gothic vibe for the Gargoyle to resist.



Oh, yes, what a great inspiration a Datura seed pod would be for one of your garden spheres. I think I spied one of your lovely Brugmansias at



Thanks for the inspiration - one of many, many I get from your crafty, gardening and seedy sides.



I love your pics of Ruby, Cooper and Stella - Borders I think? Mine is a collie, too, but not Aussie nor Sheltie. What she is, besides spoiled, is a Lassie (Rough Collie) with blue merle colour.

What joy it is to have pets and gardens!



(I don't know if you have one, but I like to think of you in your writers hut that is festooned with fascinating out of print garden books)

I enjoy plant lore, too. It kind of connects us to the ages... from The Unicorn Tapestries to Shakespeare to Tulipmania to Mac Ipods (or the Bible - depending on one's apple persuasion-I'm a Beatle apple myself) and, yes, even to Zombies.

Steve said...

It's a splendid look at an under appreciated plant with such a dismal reputation, lol. I love the color and the detail of your pictures, featuring the evil thing in such a charming way. You have a marvelous blog.

Crafty Gardener said...

Good posts and great photos.

Viooltje said...

Never mind the Jimson weed, I'm in love with your gargoyle! What a barmy character. Nevertheless, your judicious thoughts on Datura reflected both my and feelings of many odd gardeners I know. We all share the same loving/sickening relationship with this very plant. My nan has always cherished them, on the other hand, having one is enough for me, to admire its mesmerizing flowers and loathe its hideous foliage ( I always thought this plant needed a thorough recomposition), with the seed pods being its most prominent feature, both for the looks and the witchcraft ;-) I have witnessed firsthand how the chewing and munching away the seeds of evil transformed my old mate from a dull, pesky lad to a complete nutjob who was chased around by choppers and tomahawks, in a dimension far, far away. Nobody dared be his shaman LOL

P.S. A big kiss from a certain Kristy cat who very much enjoyed your gentle thoughts and is back to her usual routine of grooming and mischief, having 8 lives left to rock'n'roll !

West Coast Island Gardener said...

Steve -

It's funny, there are now Brugmansias and Daturas in the City's and Municipality's public plantings. It wold be like seeing one's Granny with a toungue piercing and tatooes - it kinda takes the bad reputation out of it.

I popped by your blog - what great landscaping advice you give. It is destined to be a go to resource for me...I've got a list of things I want my hubby to look at your waterfall how-tos.

* * *

Crafty -

I appreciate the good words - I admire your bloggings.

* * *

Violet -

You are one crazy chick. I relish reading your stuff. Twas talking to a chum 'bout your travels the other day like you lived next door. So glad Kristy is going strong on her 8th incarnation.And your poor old mate - what a riot - wonder if he gets flash backs when he smells a Jimson.



Andrea said...

Hi i am new here, found your site when googling about Datura because of's post on the violet Datura, which i saw for the first time. Your description is so genuinely true and amusing. I love how you described the photos and the plant. lol.

Autumn Belle said...

Thank you very much for the wonderful info about this plant. I have linked to you in my post titled, "Datura metel - Wordless Wednessday", as recommended by my commentor. I hope you don't mind.