Brugmansia  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Brugmansia is a genus of seven species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil. They are known as Angel's Trumpets, sharing that name with the closely related genus Datura. Brugmansia are long-lived, woody trees or bushes, with pendulous, not erect, flowers, that have no spines on their fruit. Datura species are herbaceous bushes with erect (not pendulous) flowers, and most have spines on their fruit.

These species are divided into two natural, genetically isolated groups. Brugmansia section Brugmansia includes the species aurea, insignis, sauveolens, and versicolor; and is causually referred to as the warm-growing group. B. section Sphaerocarpium includes the species arborea, sanguinea, and vulcanicola; and is casually referred to as the cold-growing group.

Description

Brugmansia are large shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 3–11 m, with tan, slightly rough bark.

The leaves are alternate, generally large, 10–30 cm long and 4–18 cm broad, with an entire or coarsely toothed margin, and are covered with fine hairs.

The name Angel's Trumpet refers to the large, very dramatic, pendulous trumpet-shaped flowers, 14–50 cm to 20 inches long and 10–35 cm across at the wide end. They are white, yellow, pink, orange or red, and have a delicate, attractive scent with light, lemony overtones, most noticeable in early evening. Flowers may be single or double.

Toxicity

All parts of Brugmansia plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets. Contact with the eyes can cause pupil diliation (mydriasis) or unequal pupil size (anisocoria). Some municipalities prohibit the purchase, sale, or cultivation of Brugmansia plants.

Several hybrids and numerous cultivars have been developed for use as ornamental plants. B. × candida is a hybrid between B. aurea and B. versicolor; B. × flava is a hybrid between B. arborea and B. sanguinea; and B. × cubensis is a hybrid between B. suaveolens, B. versicolor, and B. aurea. There are cultivars producing double flowers, and some with variegated leaves.

Uses

As with Datura, all parts of Brugmansia are highly toxic. The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and can be fatal.

Ritualized Brugmansia consumption is an important aspect of the shamanic complexes noted among many indigenous peoples of western Amazonia, such as the Jivaroan speaking peoples. Likewise, it is a central component in the cosmology and shamanic practices of the Urarina peoples of Loreto, Peru.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Brugmansia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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