Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm being followed by a Moonflower

Datura inoxia var. quinquecuspida
Common Names: angel's trumpet, downy thornapple, toloache
Family: Solanaceae (nightshade Family)

This is my second summer here. There are still surprises popping up around the house. One of the first to greet me this year was calendula. Michele from Possum Creek Herb Farm sent me a package of seeds when I moved in last year, and *apparently* I planted them in the two front beds. I've searched for that packet over the winter, but since they did come up, my memory is just failing (surprise, surprise).

The next plant to pop up and give me a grin was jewelweed - beside the porch. Some seeds must have taken root when I was cleaning the plant to stick into the still last year.

Last year, I noticed a plant that had thick silvery blu-ish green leaves and some purple in the stems. It didn't do anything, so when it popped up again this year I didn't expect much.

Well, it has flourished this year. The location is very sheltered, and perhaps it is growing like it would in other, more native regions.

Here, we call two different plants "moonflowers". One is a vine that I've grown on a lightpost before. It is much like a giant morning glory. This one is a Datura, a relative of the Jimsonweed that grows throughout the fields, giving farmers headaches.

Sniffing around Google, I've found that the plant growing outside the door has some interesting - if dangerous - distinction. Called Devil's Weed in The Teachings of Don Juan, it was used for it's hallucinagenic properties. Unfortunately, the quantity needed for that purpose is very close to the quantity that is lethal, so we won't be doing anything there. Besides, life is trippy enough all by itself. I REALLY don't need any help in that department.

Another tidbit I picked up is from a VooDoo practice, where this plant was used to create a deathlike condition for three days, so that victims were buried alive conscious but unable to move or signal life. Lovely. Concombre Zombi. My daughter was thrilled by that, as she has some sort of zombie fascination.

In any case, the flowers are really lovely little saucers that open in the darkness and emit a delicious fragrance. They draw sphinx moths (which, if you've been reading for a while, you'll know we are polluted with those strange little creatures around here) for pollination.

This plant has proceeded to crawl across the side porch, and has just begun to bloom. It is covered with buds. Just in time for the upcoming full moon!


Anonymous said...

Very wise to stay away from the Datura stromonium. It's effects are real, and while I did learn a few things about myself and the world around me during my 36 hour "trip" the effects are unpredictable, taking as long as 12 hours to kick in, which fooled me into thinking I needed to raise my dosage. It also has a mindblowing ability to dry out the mouth and sinuses. It's such an overwhelming dryness than even though I was drinking gallons my mouth and throat were so dry they actually hurt. The only way this powerful plant could really be useful would only be after intensive study in a lab. Another interesting side effect, it made me feel the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, very strange. And when it was all over and done I lost most of those 36 hours, I only remember perhaps 4. This hedge-witch need to turn to other plants for her travels.

Laura said...

Wow! Gorgeous flower! But deadly, which I guess inspires a healthy respect for this beautiful bloom. And I love the blog title. Makes me want to sing, "I'm being followed by a moonflower... moonflower, moonflower!" :)

Unknown said...

I can't find the answer to my question anywhere so I will post it here. I have Datura Inoxia growing everywhere only because of its aggressive nature. I have read about teas made out of Datura that will relax you and help you sleep but there were no recipes. I did find plenty of Datura Tea recipes with the sole intent of experiencing a hallucinogenic high. That is so not for me. However the tea can be prepared to induce sleep or relaxation. Unfortunately, there were no recipes for people who are a little nervous, sometime anxious and need a good night sleep.
If anyone knows how to make a very week tea, out of what part of the plant, fresh or dry please let me know and with your opinion.

Tina Sams said...

This isn't the answer you want, John, but I really, really wouldn't use this plant internally. There are so many good alternatives. Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian, California Poppy, Skullcap, Lemon Balm ... these will all help with sleeplessness or restlessness. St. John's Wort can also help, although for just a little help any or all of them are good.
Personally, Chamomile is usually enough for me.