ATROPA BELLADONNA

ATROPA BELLADONNA

FAMILY :: SOLANACEAE
DEADLY NIGHTSHADE, BELLADONNA: Narcotic, sedative, hallucinogen, anodyne and poison used for 100s of years in medicine and magic. Can easily be fatal if misused. If you have children around, this plant is particularly dangerous because the berries (12 are often fatal —all parts of the plant are poisonous) look good and do not taste bad. Belladonna is an ingredient of witches’ flying potions and, besides its use by commercial drug companies, is best known as a witches’ herb. The story is that witches made an ointment out of this plant and applied it to broomsticks and masturbated with those broomsticks. Think this practice has something to do with the derivation of the phrase, “being swept away.” Better than sweeping floors. …

The root was combined with wine by Thessalian witches to make an effective love potion and was also a popular additive to drinks in the Middle Ages to “incite to unchasteness.” Unfortunately, it also easily incited to death. Doses are critical. There were times in history when a person could be legally jailed or executed as a witch for having this plant in his/her garden. But we’re beyond that now.

Contains atropine, which now has great value as an antidote for nerve gas poisoning. My dog’s life was once saved by a veterinarian who gave it atropine as an antidote for poisoning from a flea collar (many insecticides are “recycled” nerve gas components). It is a hardy perennial that grows 3-4′ tall in sun or shade and likes moisture and rich soil high in calcium.

BRUGMANSIA

BRUGMANSIA

FAMILY :: SOLANACEAE
All BRUGMANSIA, or “tree datura” or “angels’ trumpets” are tropical trees that will grow well only in Southern and Central coastal California, subtropical areas of the Southwest and Southeast, in greenhouses and in the mild tropics. They are all poisonous and very beautiful and are all, except B. sanguinea, heavily evening scented.

The roots are stronger than the seeds, than the stems, than the leaves, than the flowers. Most varieties have an extensive history of shamanic use in South America. All require a very rich soil and much moisture and are very susceptible to spider mites, white flies, and slugs. There are two general types of Brugmansia. The Andean (B. sanguinea, B. candida, B. aurea) and the lowland tropical (B. suaveolens, B. x-insignis, B. versicolor). The Andean types grow better in areas of less summer heat (partially shade B. sanguinea), and the lowland tropical varieties are less tolerant of chill. Most bloom as very young plants.

  • BRUGMANSIA AUREA: A white-flowered version of this species from the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia. Very fragrant.
  • BRUGMANSIA CANDIDA x: Hybrid with double white 6-8″ long flowers. Slightly hairy leaves. Thrives in areas of warm days and cool nights, growing naturally in South America at altitudes between 4000-7000′.
  • ‘CHARLES GRIMALDI': Tall, fast growing tree to about 20′. Very large (to 10″) salmon colored flowers.
  • CULEBRA (Methysticodendron amesianum): Perhaps the rarest of all Brugmansias. Supposedly the strongest used by the shamans of the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia. Has very narrow, long leaves and distorted white flowers. Believed to be a mutation of Brugmansia aurea.
  • ‘ECUADOR PINK': Long 8-10″ unique, satin-pink trumpets on a quickly growing tree.
  • ‘FORESTVILLE DOUBLE': Elongated trumpet within a trumpet flowers to 12″ long. Large, fast growing tree that blooms well when young.
  • ‘HAWAIIAN DOUBLE': Elongated trumpet within a trumpet flowers over 12″ long. Young blooming on a slow-growing, compact tree. Likes strong light and blooms when young.
  • ‘INSIGNIS x ORANGE': Orange medium sized (6″ to 8″) trumpets in large quantity on a medium sized tree, tending to produce multiple trunks. The only Brugmansia listed here that is heavily scented in the daytime as well as in the evening. Also blooms well (perhaps the best) in winter.
  • ‘INSIGNIS x PINK': Salmon/pink bells of medium size (8″) on a medium sized tree.
  • ‘JAMAICAN YELLOW': A very large quantity of yellow 8-10″ trumpets on a vigorous, rapidly growing tree.
  • BRUGMANSIA SANGUINEA: Perhaps the hardiest Brugmansia (…not saying that much; it still can’t handle any freezing) listed here. Large yellow bells with red flares. Grow in part shade in summer. The only Brugmansia listed that is unscented. Native to the highlands of Colombia and Ecuador. Not found in lower or middle elevations.
  • BRUGMANSIA SUAVEOLENS: Large white, heavily scented trumpets on a medium sized tree. Grows naturally in the Northern Andes below 3000′ elevation.
  • ‘SUNRAY': Highly scented, lemon yellow 12″ blooms.
  • BRUGMANSIA VERSICOLOR: The 6-8″ flowers on this medium-sized tree first open near white, then change to an apricot/peach. Blooms well in pots.
  • BRUGMANSIA VERSICOLOR ‘Alba': An albino version of the previous with extra long (to 15″) white flowers.

BRUNFELSIA AUSTRALIS

BRUNFELSIA AUSTRALIS

FAMILY :: SOLANACEAE
Tropical shrub 2-3′ tall with beautiful purple (turning white with age), sweetly scented flowers in quantity throughout the summer. Grow in rich, moist acid soil in part shade with high humidity and temperatures above 50º f. From Paraguay.