August 26, 2006

My last word on daturas

How is this for one honkin' big bouquet?

Datura inoxia bouquet
We don't normally think of daturas as cut flowers. Or at least I don't. But the winner of Survivor - Ontario has done its surviving with so much vigour that I'm obliged to whack off a couple of major branches every week or two just to get in the front door, and to give my PG hydrangea a chance of surviving. Rather than just pitching the trimmings in the compost, I throw them in my largest vase and enjoy them for a few days indoors. The smaller buds usually get dropped, but the bigger ones will proceed to open on schedule, and will normally last longer than outside, being away from the sun. (For an idea of the scale of the bouquet, each blossom is wider than my hand. The table it's on is 3 feet wide.)

The little wire fence I erected in lieu of stakes is straining severely under the weight of the plant which is now about 6 feet tall and leaning more and more toward the light. I am probably going to have to uproot it in a couple of weeks when the angle is too great. And then I will shovel prune the whole thing. I love it dearly, but I just don't have the space. In an ideal world, I'd give it a good 9 square feet in full sun (where it wouldn't lean) underplanted with spring bulbs. They wouldn't object to being smothered from July on, the late-rising datura doesn't require copious watering so the bulbs wouldn't get rotted out when they're dormant, a win/win scenario. I may yet do it in the future.

Datura meteloides seedpodIn the meanwhile, I will collect fresh seeds, even though I already have some stored, because it might be several years before I plant them again. The seedpod you see to the left is not ripe yet, but it won't look much different when it is. It will be a bit bigger, but it will split and spill the seeds without advance warning, while it is still green. There will normally be some clinging to the inside (they look like large pepper seeds) but if I want to catch more of them, I can just slip the foot from some old pantyhose over it. The thorns (which are usually too soft to cut but stiff enough to be uncomfortable) will hold it in place.

My very last word about datura is that it is indeed toxic and hallucinogenic, as you may have heard. No part of the plant is safe to ingest. But no matter what you may hear elsewhere, it is safe to handle. I do it barehanded all the time. It has to be taken internally to be dangerous. Even then, minute quantities won't have much of an effect, unlike castor bean seeds. I wouldn't keep it if I had pets or small children that liked to chew on leaves or teenagers stupid enough to want to try it for a high. Seeing as I have neither, I've grown it with no problems whatsoever.

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1 comment:

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Gorgeous--I love that you brought the cuttings inside, and that they kept flowering for you! Wonderful pic.