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Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn Apples

Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn Apples
Ulrike and Hans-Georg Preissel
Firefly Books
Publication Date: 

paper, 144 p., $19.95

Ulrike and Hans-Georg Preissel have been involved in breeding Brugmansia and Datura for many years and have created a large collection of them, which in part they share in this book. The interesting historical and cultural origins of these plants are described in the course of the text, but it is the lure of the pastels of the angel's trumpets that will make almost anyone a collector.

Brugmansia, or angel's trumpets, with large, sweetly scented, smooth-seeded, dangling bell-like flowers, have become popular in recent years with the new emphasis on tropical container gardening. These plants are subtropical, shrub-like, woody perennials, wintered indoors in our climate. Datura, or thorn apples, while closely related to Brugmansia and often confused with them, are seed-grown annuals with smaller, upright, bell-shaped flowers that open only at night. Their seed capsule is round and thorny. A native species is the hated Southern jimson weed.

The authors distinguish between these plants in the opening paragraphs of the book so that gardeners will never again confuse Datura with Brugmansia. However, no matter how dissimilar, both species are poisonous and were considered medicinal narcotics by Indians. Datura has especially been used as a source of scopolamine.

The longest part of the book is confined to cataloging species of Brugmansia, which crossbreeds with regularity. Directions for propagation by stem cutting and other cultural practices are provided. Daturareceives a more cursory overview.

This book, clearly written for both professionals and amateurs, will become a standard in the literature on these plants.

— Adele Kleine, Library Volunteer, Master Gardener and contributing writer to Chicagoland Gardening magazine.