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.
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.
*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.
*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.