Magical Datura

IMG_6832 (1)Datura, Jimson Weed, Sacred Moon Flower, call it what you wish.  When the mid summer kicks in some of us in the Santa Fe area are blessed with this plant.  This plant was first made famous for it’s hallucinogenic properties by Native Americans, ang again made famous by Georgia O’Keefe for some close up paintings of the flowers.  With white flowers like this, who needs color?

. The large white flowers open in the evening only and attract bees, moths and all kinds of nocturnal insects.  Hummingbirds feast on them in the twilight hours, so every evening is a party when you have these in your yard Datura is a member of the nightshade family and can cause allergies to some.

Datura starts out late in the spring, often leaving us to wonder if it has moved on.  When the warm weather hits, if it has sun and a little bit of water, watch out.  It can be four feet high, with large leaves, and, of course the huge white trumpet flowers.  The seed pods are big prickly pods that are almost as interesting as the flowers, and those start soon after.

The main downfall of datura is that the leaves are big and prone to hail and insect damage.  But if you just cut off the damage, in warm weather the plant will probably grow back overnight!

How do you get some for your own?  Well, Datura is also a mystery plant, and will only grow when it wants.  Starts can be purchased at Native Plant nurseries, like Agua Fria and Plants of the Southwest, and they will probably grow with proper care.But the best daturas are the magic ones, the ones that seed themselves.  It’s a mystery, just like the plant itself has been for thousands of years.  Datura, though drought resistant, will need some water when planted in a garden setting.  Irrigation that gives it a couple of hours a week at a half gallon an hour emitter will be great.  They will grow big and spread from seed if they are in a sunny location.

One more thing, Sacred and Magical Datura does not seem to grow at altitudes above 8000 feet at all. I don’t know how low of an elevation it can handle.  That leaves it to our specific magic location of the Santa Fe area.

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