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Brugmansia suaveolens, angel's trumpet
formerly called Datura suaveolens

Summary

In northern climates this attractive plant is often grown indoors because people assume its common name refers to the look of the flowers rather than the indication that this is the sound to be heard after ingestion of a fatal amount.

Blog Entries

Read more about Brugmansia suaveolens, angel's trumpet, in these blog entries;
The 2010 US Poison Control Centers annual report shows only two deaths due to plants

Family

Solanaceae

Meaning of the Name

Brugmansia
The name, now applied to this plant previously called Datura, is from Sebald Justin Brugmans, 1763-1819, a Dutch professor of natural history.

See Datura stramonium for the possible meaning of 'Datura'.

suaveolens
From the Latin ‘suave’ meaning ‘sweet’ and, hence, ‘sweet-smelling’. Plants from the genera Datura and Brugmansia are, usually, described as having an unpleasant smell. This species may get its name by being an exception.

Common Names and Synonyms

angel's trumpet, sacred datura, hindu datura, indian apple, thorn apple.

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

Because of the change of genus name, much of the information about this plant is credited to the Datura genus.

Brugmansia/Datura plants usually have an unpleasant taste so accidental poisoning from direct ingestion of plant material is unusual. Most poisoning results from the consumption of a tea made from the seeds either for its alleged medicinal benefits or for its hallucinogenic effects.

Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet

Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet

A number of symptoms have been reported and not all are present in every case. Twenty-nine sources have been examined, both scientific papers reporting on specific cases and 'herbals' going back to Dioscorides.

The overwhelming majority say confusion, delirium and hallucinations are the principal effects with drowsiness, sleep or coma generally following. Dilation of the pupils is such a common effect it gets mentioned in passing in some reports.

Agitation and convulsions requiring the use of restraints or sedatives are reported in around a third of the sources, a similar proportion give death as the outcome of Datura poisoning.

Only a few sources mention the muscle weakness which was supposed to make Datura a useful murder weapon by rendering the victim helpless and memory loss, supposed to help whores get away with robbing their clients, is also a given in a minority of the sources.

Incidents

Its hallucinogenic properties have led to young people experimenting with it. During the 1990s, there were two cases of drowning where, it is believed, young people experimenting with the plant on beaches fell asleep below the high water mark and drowned when the tide came in.

The 2010 American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) annual report shows one death due to misuse of angel's trumpet.

Folklore and Facts

The following stories are associated with various species of Datura/Brugmansia.

Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet

Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet

It was believed to have been favoured by professional killers because the victims rapidly lose the wish, or ability, to move and quietly go off to sleep. Note that this runs contrary to most of the actual case reports which talk of agitation and excitement.

On the Indian subcontinent and Russia it was known as "knockout drops", which thieves and prostitutes used to knock out their victims. So well known was this effect that Christoval Acosta, who was in India in 1578, wrote that Hindu whores gave it to their patrons because ‘these mundane ladies are such mistresses and adepts in the use of the seed that they gave it in doses corresponding to as many hours as they wish their poor victims to be unconscious or transported’.

It may be that the hallucinations induced led the poor fools who woke up penniless to believe they had spent their money on exciting 'extras'.

IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.

 

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Introduction to the A to Z section
Abrus precatorius, rosary pea
Aconitum lycoctonum, wolfsbane
Aconitum napellus, monkshood
Actaea racemosa, black cohosh
Actaea spicata, baneberry
Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut
Amanita muscaria, fly agaric
Aquilegia atrata, columbine
Aristolochia clematitis, birthwort
Artemisia absinthium, wormwood
Arum italicum, Italian cuckoopint
Arum maculatum, cuckoopint
Aspergillus fumigatus
Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade
Brugmansia suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Bryonia dioica, bryony
Buxus sempervirens, common box
Camellia sinensis, tea
Cannabis sativa, marijuana
Catha edulis, khat
Chelidonium majus, greater celandine
Cimicifuga racemosa, black cohosh
Claviceps purpurea, ergot
Clematis vitalba, old man's beard
Colchicum autumnale, naked ladies
Conium maculatum, poison hemlock
Convallaria majalis, lily of the valley
Cynoglossum officinale, hound’s tongue
Daphne mezereon, spurge olive
Datura stramonium, thorn apple, jimsonweed
Datura suaveolens, angel's trumpet
Delphinium, larkspur
Digitalis spp., foxglove
Dracunculus vulgaris, dragon arum
Echium vulgare, viper’s bugloss
Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite
Erythroxylum coca, cocaine
Euonymus europaeus, spindle tree
Euphorbia x martinii, red spurge
Euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettia
Fritillaria spp., fritillary
Galanthus nivalis, snowdrop
Hedera helix, common ivy
Helleborus spp., hellebore
Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed
Hyacinthoides non-scripta, bluebell
Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane
Ilex aquifolium, holly
Jacobaea vulgaris, ragwort
Juniperus communis, common juniper
Laburnum anagyroides, laburnum
Lactuca serriola, prickly lettuce
Leucojum aestivum, snowflake
Lithospermum officinale, gromwell
Lolium temulentum, darnel
Malus 'John Downie', crab apple
Mandragora officinarum, mandrake
Mercurialis perennis, dog’s mercury
Narcissus, daffodil
Nepeta faassenii, catmint
Nerium oleander, oleander
Nicotiana sylvestris, tobacco
Oenanthe crocata, hemlock water dropwort
Papaver somniferum, opium poppy
Pastinaca sativa, parsnip
Polygonatum odoratum, angular Solomon's seal
Prunus laurocerasus, cherry laurel
Pulsatilla vulgaris, pasque flower
Ranunculus acris, meadow buttercup
Rheum x hybridum, rhubarb
Rhododendron spp.
Rhus radicans, poison ivy
Ricinus communis, castor oil plant
Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary
Rumex obtusifolius, broad-leaved dock
Ruta graveolens, rue
Salix alba, white willow
Salvia divinorum, sage
Scutellaria laterifolia, Virginian skullcap
Senecio jacobaea, ragwort
Solanum dulcamara, woody nightshade
Solanum melongena, aubergine
Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut
Symphoricarpos albus, snowberry
Symphytum spp., comfrey
Taxus baccata, yew
Toxicodendron radicans, poison ivy
Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander
Urtica dioica, stinging nettle
Veratrum album, white hellebore
Verbascum olympicum, Greek mullein
Vinca major, greater periwinkle
Viscum album, mistletoe
Vitex agnus-castus, chaste tree