Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some kind of Voodoo

If you're travelling in the caribbean there's a decent chance you'll come across one of these growing on a roadside, rubbish heap or other area of disturbed ground. Its Datura innoxia.

Datura innoxia

Now you may well stop to admire these lovely angel trumpet flowers but you're probably best to leave it there. You see Datura are known for their powerful toxins. I can remember being told of a man who tied a donkey beneath a tree datura only to find it wouldn't wake up.

Datura innoxia

This species is also known as thorn apple or concombre-zombi because of these spectacular fruits. Spectacular but lethally toxic. In fact it is widely believed rogue voodoo practitioners use a preparation of Datura to damage victims in the process known as in zombies. yes really. There's a load of detail about this utterly horrifying practice (3 days in a coffin alive and aware but unable to move!?) and other medicinal uses of the genus here but to summarise lets admire from a distance, eh?

Datura innoxia

For those of you confused by the use of Datura and Brugmansia by books and garden centres and catalogues I understand the basic rule is Datura flowers upwards whereas Brugmansia flowers hang down. The toxity is an issue with all species so do be careful if you grow these.


brebis noire said...

Great photos! Thanks for the post. I was googling for images of the flowers that are growing outside my front door, and fell upon yours. However, I live up north, in Quebec. How can this grow up here as well.
I just pulled one out by the roots, and now I'm expecting it to crawl out of the compost bin and come knocking on my window during the night.

tai haku said...

Hi there and thanks for the comment. There is a similar species of Datura to this one (Datura stramonium)known as Jimson Weed. It is now pretty widespread around the world as a result of seeds being moved with people and is even turning up in the UK fairly regularly. I think removing this plant from your garden is a sensible thing if you have pets or kids but let me know if it comes abck to life and comes to get you!

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singapore florist said...

thanks for sharing this, so i know what nature has nowadays like the last photo. it's so stunning.