It’s hard to miss the gigantic white flowers on this plant which look like a Morning Glory on steroids. It is a member of the tomato, potato and eggplant family. This plant has several other common names, including Jimson weed, thorn apple, Indian apple, moon lily, moon flower and angel’s trumpet.
Sacred Datura mostly grows in sandy washes. Its dark grayish-green, heart-shaped leaves form mounds from which sprout striking, 6-inch-long, bright white flowers which ripen to become sharp-prickly seed-pods.
Each large, trumpet-shaped, blossom blooms for only one night and must therefore work fast to attract its pollinators. The flower opens at twilight and releases a strong lemon-like scent. Hawk Moths are its major nocturnal pollinators, but various other insects also arrive the following morning to enjoy the pollen at the heart of the flower.
All parts of this strikingly massive plant are toxic. It contains numerous poisonous alkaloids and their narcotic and hallucinogenic properties have made it part of sacred rituals and experimentations – both of which have resulted in many deaths.
So it’s best to look, but not eat this very interesting part of the southwestern landscape.