Sacred Datura

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So it’s best to look, but not eat this very interesting part of the southwestern landscape.

Third Eye Herp

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