11 August 2011
The Datura wrightii is back in full bloom again, perfuming the hot, dry evening air with its white trumpet flowers.
I love the swirl of the petals just before they open.
Datura, also known as jimsonweed, Angel trumpet and even moon flower around these parts, is highly toxic and has been used regularly as a hallucinogenic in rituals in the New World. The name jimsonweed is actually derived from Jamestown weed, where early settlers purportedly accidentally ate the leaves and went on a crazy Magic Trip for s few days.
In the book, the "Serpent and the Rainbow" (from which a creepy bad movie was made), Harvard ethnobotanist makes a pretty good case that it's datura, at least in part, that is responsible for creating the zombies of the voodoo tradition in Haiti. Highly fascinating book, by the way.
Another fun source for information about the cultural history of plants is "Remarkable Plants of Texas," by Matt Turner. Matt is an Austinite, and I couldn't recommend this book more for the plant enthusiast who likes a good story and background. It's full of interesting facts about the medicinal and economic uses of plants and their original distributions, and Matt is a great writer.