Scientific Name: Brugmansia spp.
Common Names: Angel's Trumpets
Plant Type: Shrub or woody tree
Environment: No frost, can handle a range of temperatures above freezing, but humid and warm are best. Moist, well-drained soil
Bloom: Large trumpet shaped flowers often in white, pink, yellow, red and orange
Uses: Can be planted as a single specimen or used as a space filler with other plants. Also works as a container plant.
Other: The Solanaceae family also includes belladonna, capsicum (used to make paprika and chili pepper), eggplant, jimsonweed, mandrake, petunia, potato, tobacco, and tomato plants. There are 7 species of Brugmansia all native to South America
Strikingly beautiful when in bloom, Brugmansia are much sought after by gardeners for their dramatic pendulous and fragrant flowers and the variety of their colors. They are native to the Andes: Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and to Central America. Their "magical qualities" have been known and used by the native people of these countries for centuries.
A member of the deadly nightshade family, the Solanaceae, Angel's Trumpets are rich in alkaloids. Quantity wise, scopolamine is the most important, a drug still used in modern western medicine. Such a fact requires a word of caution. In excess, scopolamine can have dire, even fatal results.
Once classified in a single genus with Datura, they were officially recognized in 1973 as the separate genus Brugmansia. The Angel's Trumpets in contrast to Datura, are bushes or trees, and long lived, living for several decades. Flowers are pendulous in contrast to upright as with Datura.
The flowers perfume the evening air, a mechanism for attracting their pollinators. The one exception is the B. sanguinea which is pollinated by hummingbirds that have a weak sense of smell, but a well developed visual sense for the color red.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Joanne Taylor, Text by Kathy McNeil, Profile by David Kruse-Pickler