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‘Evening Fragrance’ Datura (Datura meteloides ‘Evening Fragrance’) Part 1: Intoxication


They say that datura’s intoxicating.

Well yes, it is. Is that bad?

Well, it is bad if you’re taking datura leaves internally. Or even if you make a paste and spread them on your skin. You can have respiratory failure, which in plain English means you stop breathing.

In the U.S. Pharmacopoeia of the 1800s, smoking datura leaves (a less drastic way of introducing the alkaloids to your body) was prescribed for asthma. So if you get it just right, instead of stopping breathing, you can stop from breathing fast and spasmodically. I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, though. Remember, “intoxication” comes from the same root as “toxin”.

Eating datura, or rubbing a paste or salve on your skin, can have multitude of effects. You can hallucinate most unpleasantly, and be very sick to your stomach, for a very long time. Daturas can be used by experts to good effect-some tradtional healers have different kinds of datura or brugmansias growing in their yard. Each variety is good for divining a particular problem or illness in the village. Datura is said to be an herb used by European witches (who were, generally, shamans who were demonized by the Church) to travel to other realms and learn wisdom. In India, daturas are also regarded as sacred.

In fact, wherever it appears, datura is regarded as a holy plant. But holy means powerful. I have known datura to drive a person in a delicately balanced state over the edge, so there was no better solution than an institution. Treat daturas with respect. If you don’t know what you’re doing, back off.

But not too far.

Datura flowers can send me into an altered state even when they’re dead, as in the photo at the top of this post. And it’s a very pleasant sensation.

The slow bursting from velvety buds, the tight scroll unfurling in the evening, is a spectacular show.


And when the huge flower fully opens, you can bury your face deep within it. To me, it’s like a combination of fresh line-dried laundry, a hint of lemon, a whisper of sweet orange blossom, and a touch of something else.


Whatever it is, inhale it while you can, because by late morning, the flowers will be done.

Fortunately, there are more to come.

Next post: I go on about this datura

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Nancy Bond September 10, 2008, 4:41 am

    What an absolutely intriguing plant! It’s almost as if it has a life of its own. The bloom is lovely, if somewhat…scary? :)

  • Pomona Belvedere September 10, 2008, 2:50 pm

    I think it does have a life of its own. I’m beginning to suspect mine had some parties while I was away on vacation…

  • cheryl October 1, 2008, 12:24 pm

    Yes, the smell is intoxicating:) I want to sleep with it under my pillow to see if it truely does inhance your dreams…

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