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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday -- August 2013 Datura inoxia

The Datura inoxia 'Evening Fragrance' that I grew from seed this year are flowering. I noticed two of them that were really getting big and close to flowering and figured that when the sun went down and it got dark they would open. And they did!

Datura are called Moonflower because they open at night, and are so big and bright I could see them from across the garden even without a flashlight.

The bud has just a touch of lavender, which disappears once the flower opens fully.

The flower is about 7 inches wide from edge to edge

Datura are also called devil's trumpets, because they face upward, like devils blowing a trumpet. Brugmansias are known as angel's trumpets, because they face downward. The two are related, and both come from central and South America, where they are considered wildflowers. Datura flowers only open for one night and I could only pick up the scent if I poked my nose right into the flower, unlike Brugmansia flowers, which stay open for several days and develop a very strong, lovely scent that often wafts all over the garden. These two remained open all day on a very cloudy day, but the first one that opened over a week ago had collapsed by dinnertime. They're not pretty plants, being large and sprawling, but I do like the big velvety leaves.

Still open mid-afternoon the next day

Today's flower after our recent summer rain

There are double-flowered Datura as well, and they come in other colors, most notably purple. I'm going to try growing some double purple ones from seed next year. They were so easy to grow from seed that I'll probably just start more next year rather than try to over-winter them inside (I have too many plants that will all be crowding around my single south-facing window inside all winter, desperate for a little light). Another common name for Datura is thornapple, because the seedpod that develops after the flower is pollinated is round and prickly. They are pollinated by night-flying sphynx moths, which are a hummingbird imitator, but honeybees and other daytime insects have been known to burrow into them before they open.

Incipient seedpod
Datura inoxia is an herbaceous perennial grown as an annual, hardy to Zone 9. Mine are growing in pots in the gravel garden area, next to my Brugmansias and Agaves, and also on the front porch, both west-facing sites that get lots of sun and radiated heat from gravel and concrete. Like the Brugs, they need constant watering to perform their best. They are in the Solanaceae family, like tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, but they are absolutely not for ingestion, containing dangerously toxic amounts of atropine, scopolamine and hydroscyamine.

Four more flowers on the way
Wildflower Wednesday occurs on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Check out Gail Eichelberger's blog clay and limestone here, the host for Wildflower Wednesday, where she is posting today about blue mist flower. Plenty of other bloggers will be posting about wildflowers too! Check them out.