Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What the bud became

with 8 comments

Jimsonweed Flower 6866

In the last post I showed you a picture of a yellow bud, which I described as roughly cylindrical, about an inch and a half across by six inches long. Then I asked if you could guess what the flower would look like once it emerged. Here it is, fully unrolled, with much of the original creamy yellow turned to pure white. This is jimsonweed, Datura wrightii, which produces some of the showiest blooms we have in Texas, measuring a good six inches (15 cm) across the flared end of each fully unfurled flower.

But as beautiful as jimsonweed’s white flowers are, this is also a dangerous plant: all parts of it are toxic. Because this species of Datura is also hallucinogenic, every year there are people who ingest some form of it and get sick, and unfortunately some of them even die. But over the centuries and millennia, enough ancient and modern ingesters have lived and valued their visions for jimsonweed to have earned the alternate English names sacred datura and angel trumpet.

For more information about Datura wrightii, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in the United States where this plant grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2011 at 3:21 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Very pretty


    October 26, 2011 at 10:24 AM

  2. Very pretty, and pretty undesirable! I never would have guessed jimsonweed. I’ve seen it, but very rarely, and I’ve never seen the buds. When I lived down around Victoria, the farmers and ranchers talked about it with the same affection as Johnson grass.

    I remember being told that cattle and horses don’t go for it with the same enthusiasm as locoweed, but that it sometimes will lead to mass kills of chickens. It can get into their feed, and that’s all it takes.

    Beautiful and deadly – an always intriguing combination!


    October 26, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    • Happy surprise, then. I can see where farmers might not like this toxic plant, which you aptly describe as the intriguing combination of beautiful and deadly; reminds me of what the Italians call belladonna, beautiful lady.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2011 at 5:41 AM

  3. […] this is what the strange fruit of jimsonweed, Datura wrightii, looks like when it is still forming. Looks like green flames, don’t you […]

  4. Beautiful shot with wonderful detail. 🙂


    October 27, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    • Thanks, Katie. It’s hard to keep detail in something as bright white as the bell of this flower, but I always shoot in RAW to preserve as much information as possible.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2011 at 7:26 PM

  5. […] • a fully open, trumpet-shaped flower; […]

  6. […] rosinweed, the Miró of Mirabilis, the Titian of Tinantia, the Gauguin of Gaillardia, the Dalí of Datura, and the Monet of Monarda. You, too, can play the game and add other alliterative titles that link […]

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