Datura Metel**-Devil Or Angel

My definition of a wildflower is one that just shows up of its own free will. There are other definitions used for the fourth Wednesday of each month when my friend Gail of Clay and Limestone hosts the sharing of wildflowers, but this meaning will be used for today’s wildflower choice, Datura Metel. It just showed up in the mess of volunteer weeds, shrubs and trees as the hill behind the main house was being cleared and terraced by the renovation backhoe in the summer of 2000. Seeds were collected and scattered in the beds with high hopes. Shown above: Datura metel backed by Rudbeckia lanciniata and Joe Pye weed in the Ferngully bed, September, 2008.

In a true confession, this had been misspelled as Datura metal in most of the previous posts. Those errors have since been corrected. There is no excuse other than laziness for not double checking as is normally done, although it could be said that this whole plant has sort of a Heavy Metal vibe, especially the spiked seed pods.

Sort of like Dracula, this plant blooms at night and is just closing up shop as the dawn breaks, when the photographer is out with the camera perusing the garden in the early hours.

That makes it difficult to capture the image of a fully open flower by one who is safely tucked into bed with a good book or gardening magazine when darkness falls in summertime.

Datura metel goes by several common names, including Devil’s Trumpet and Angel’s Trumpet. It seems as though the ancients could not agree upon which side this shrub-like herbaceous annual butters its bread.

Growing to a height of about three to four feet with an equal spread, the Datura metel growing here sprouts where it wants to. This year and last it showed up along the gravel path that leads from the driveway to the back gardens. Branches blocking passageway have been pruned to save the innocent from being speared by the sharp seedheads.

The long slender buds and infant seedhead are attractive in their own right. Most of the seed carrying cases are snipped off to hold the population in check, but one or two will be allowed to mature and open, spilling the black contents to continue this sinister and mysterious wildflower population in the future.

Some facts:

*The pleasantly-scented 6-8 in. flowers are immensely varied, and can be single or double.
*All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of tropane alkyloids (highly poisonous) and may be fatal if ingested by humans or other animals, including livestock and pets. In some places, it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants. (Uh oh, but not prohibited where I live.)
*Perennial in zones 9-11, annual elsewhere.
*Grows taller where perennial.
*Native to southern Asia, but established as a roadside weed in the US.
*Best in full sun to a bit of shade.
*Drought tolerant.
*Will self sow.
*Blooms July until frost.
*Each flower lasts one night.

** The name of this plant may truly be Datura stramonium, brought to my attention by an astute comment leaving reader. There are other sites that verify the ID as D. metel. It is confusing when research finds conflicting information. That said, I might just name it Heavy Metel and be done with it.

The Datura metel in our area are blooming and setting seed now. I find it interesting to see them along the roadway and in waste places with the flowers still visible, if spent, in the early morning hours. Finding it growing on our property was considered a blessing, for it is beautiful, so Angel it is, sent from above.


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23 Responses to Datura Metel**-Devil Or Angel

  1. What a cool plant! I love those surprises when plants grow where you least expect them to. Your photo of the seed pod is super!

    Thanks Karin. This was such a good surprise, I had no idea what the pretty flower was, but have since learned, and also learned how to spell it!

    • I now have one growing in my front yard in Massachusetts….came from out of nowhere…found thus site on line and I am glad to contribute. My town planted a new tree in front of my home, and this plant grew next to it.
      I wonder if it will return in the spring. We have very cold winters.

      Lucky you, Barbara and thanks for contributing. This is an annual, even in our zone 7 garden, so yours won’t return. It might seed about though, if it has flowered and produced seeds.

      • Barbara says:

        Yes, it did seed this season, but my landscaper removed the many little plants before they could get very big and have blossoms. The original plant had so many pods that the seeds spread over a large area, as I had to dig it out piece by piece last fall as it was
        so huge that it was obstructing cars going down my street.

        They certainly can get big, Barbara, I agree. One needs a hatchet to cut it down and a shovel to dig the stem/trunk up! There are seeds in the seedbank of our soil to last an eternity, I believe.

  2. Carol says:

    I usually see one or two Datura seedlings in my garden each year. Not sure of the species, but I pull them out. Maybe I should leave them be and see what the blooms look like!

    You should, Carol, they might be something really cool, and your garden fairies would appreciate another wildling. They do get fairly large, but you could then save seed and place them to your liking.

  3. Darla says:

    I have the plain white bloom ones popping up all over the place every spring. I consider Datura to be Devil’s Trumpet because it’s blooms face upward and Brugmansia to be Angel’s Trumpet because it’s blooms face downward. That’s my redneck two cents worth.

    Right you are, Darla, not redneck at all, unless you want it to be! HA Or the reverse, upward facing towards Heaven being the Angel, downwards towards the Inferno, Devil. I’ll go with Datura since I don’t know right from wrong, especially in spelling.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have a datura that is very similar. This one is even prettier I think with the purple throat. Mine is plain white. They are an interesting plant.

    The research said the flowers are variable and there are several species, Lisa. I like them all.

  5. VP says:

    What a lovely thing to show up at Faire Garden to make it even fairer!

    I was pleased to find the wonderfully named Jack go to bed before noon (aka Salsify) show up on my allotment a couple of months ago. An apt place for it as it’s grown as an edible crop as well as being a wildflower

    Thanks VP, what a sweet thing to say. That is a wonderful name for the Salsify, and it sounds like a true wildflower as well.

  6. Gail says:

    Frances, C and L must be inhospitable to datura~I have tried to grow it. It’s a pretty flower with a wicked looking seedhead! The path from the driveway to the back garden looks fantastic~Love the stand of evergreens and I do see a lovely asteracea in the background of the first photo! Happy WW to you. xxoogail

    Thanks Gail. The seedheads are very sharp, I have to wear thick gloves to deal with them. There are promises of flowers yet to come this fall, just beyond the rims of the photo, yes. Happy WW to you!

  7. Julie says:

    I grow this beautiful plant in my Minnesota garden. I’m a fussy gardener and like to dead head the spent flowers to keep my garden tidy. One time my pupils became dilated to where you couldn’t see my iris and this dilation continued for a few hours after a trip to the doctor, I found this plant to have caused it. I wouldn’t give up the beautiful datura, so now I just let it go to seed.

    Goodness, Julie, I am glad you are okay! That is a scary story, but this is indeed a scary plant, with loads of lore to go with it, not unfounded it seems! I always wear gloves when working with it, and will really remember to always continue after hearing your tale.

  8. Rose says:

    I’ve only heard them called Angel’s Trumpet, definitely preferable to the darker side name. Such lovely blooms! I’ve always admired them, but have hesitated growing them here–I’m afraid an overly curious Golden Retriever might think they look like a snack:)

    Thanks Rose. I don’t blame you for being careful about what you grow due to your sweet pet. The wildlife here seems to know what to eat and what to avoid, including Kitty, thank goodness.

  9. That is a beauty, what a great color in the heart of the bloom. This plant would be a good candidate for a murder mystery plot, beautiful, but deadly.

    Thanks MMD. Sinister is the word for the Datura. There are many stories involving the use of this plant, some seemed downright gruesome. Your murder mystery plot sounds delightful. I love a good mystery!

  10. Christina says:

    Great post about datura metel. I know the garden varieties of the Angel’s Trumpet, which you can often see here in Southern California growing in people’s gardens, but I didn’t know that there is a variety considered a wild flower, which is so pretty and self seeds. My favorite photo is the second one showing the seed pod and the seeds. This plants surely protects her seeds very well!

    Thanks Christine. There are many Daturas, some are Brugmansias, the ones that hang downward, grown as shrub like garden plants where they are hardy. This one is the same family but the flowers are much smaller and face up. The seeds of all of the ones that are not sterile are quite sharp!

  11. Greggo says:

    I think one of the Fairy Dudes planted one along my sidewalk. The Dark Side variety. Love the blooms at night and early morning. Tried photographing them at night; unfortunately all I got was this weird sodium (street light) induced nightmare. Gads.

    You are too funny, Greggo! A street light would be a definite problem for atmospheric night shots! Lucky you with Fairy Dudes!

  12. “the ancients could not agree upon which side this shrub-like herbaceous annual butters its bread.” I love that line Faire. I also love datura. I’ve never gotten it established in my garden, but I do love it. Sometimes, I’ve seen huge daturas in other gardens in Oklahoma. I think I just don’t have room for it.~~Dee

    Thanks Dee, I so appreciate your kind words. There were big white daturas in the neighborhood where I grew up in Oklahoma. The smell of the leaves was so distinctive, as were those seedpods.

  13. joey says:

    Are you ever lucky, Frances. Datura Metel is lovely! (Now Bobby Vee’s Devil or Angel is stuck in my head!)

    I am lucky, Joey, in so very many ways. Now you have me humming that oldie but goodie, too!

  14. Lola says:

    Great post Frances. I really like the purple throat. I have 2 of them……1 in the ground & 1 in a pot. The one in the pot is actually doing better. They were given to me by my brother. They are supposed to be white. They have never gotten to any size, no blooms. Maybe I should buy seeds like I did before. That was nice to watch.

    Thanks Lola. Maybe yours needs a little more time to grow larger and flower? This is an annual here, but grows large quickly and makes many flowers in full sun.

  15. hortoccult says:

    These are Datura Stramonium, not D. metel. Love the blog!

    Hi Hortoccult, great name and thanks! I had to do some research, but believe the leaves of D. stramonium are different than these, although some photos show the same flower. Google is notorious for mislabeled plant images. The official site of the North Carolina State University poisonous plants shows a different flower and leaf for it than what is growing in my garden. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/images/DaturSt6.htm
    but I could be wrong.

    • hortoccult says:

      The photo on that page is actually Datura Inoxia. Not trying to argue, I’m just really obsessed with Daturas!

      Some sites show what is growing here to be D. stramonium, as you say. I do find it difficult to dispute North Carolina State University, however. I am not going to change all of these previous posts, but will henceforth add that name as well when showing this plant. You do know your Daturas. Thanks for educating me!

  16. I like it! I’ve not heard of it being prohibited here (seen it in nurseries). Definitely deer resistant (or else).

    Thanks Freda. I like it too. I don’t know how they can prohibit something that grows along the roadside. The deer should stay clear of it, too.

  17. I adore Datura, esp. the funky seedheads, inside and out. GREAT photo of that!

    Hi Monica, thanks. I like the seedheads as well, good for Hallowe’en decoration.

  18. I run an invasive plant removal program in Maine every summer, and Datura is one of the primary plants we are battling. It completely takes over parts of our island and kills off all the native plants. I would never recommend it, but it may behave differently where you are. Readers in other parts of the country beware,

    Thanks for adding to the conversation about the Datura, Carolyn. It does not take over here, for whatever reason. It might be more aggressive in a wetter place. Sounds like the devil in your neck of the woods.

  19. debsgarden says:

    I agree it has a Heavy Metal attitude! These pop up in my garden, and I have always pulled them out. But it does have a beautiful flower…the devil tempts me!

    Hi Deb, thanks for the backup! I pull most of them up, but always allow a couple to flower. Tempting!

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