Brugmansia, also known as Angel’s Trumpet, is a genus of about 10 species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to tropical regions of South America.
The genus includes shrubs and small trees, with alternate, simple leaves and large, pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers. The fragrant flowers come in a variety of colors, attracting moths that pollinate them. These plants contain chemicals called tropane alkaloids that in sufficient quantities could be fatal. They are beautiful, but very toxic!
The genus name was given in honor of Sebald Justin Brugmans (1763-1819), a Dutch botanist and physician.
The common name “Angel’s Trumpet” comes from the trumpet-shaped flowers being aimed downwards, resembling the angelic horns.
The name refers to two different plants – Brugmansia and Datura, and is often used for both genera.
Brugmansia represents vivacity and health, but it can also mean danger.
Interesting facts about Brugmansia
Brugmansia and Related Genera
Brugmansia is closely related to Datura, a genus in the same family. They both have similar looking leaves and fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers that are deadly poisonous.
They look alike, but they are actually different plants. One of the main differences is that Datura flowers are erect, while Brugmansia flowers are pendulous. Brugmansia includes woody shrubs and small trees, while Datura species are low-lying herbaceous plants.
Is Brugmansia Poisonous?
Angel’s Trumpet is extremely toxic to humans as well as animals, and may be fatal if ingested. It is one of the most poisonous plants because its dangerous chemicals can cause euphoria, hallucinations, respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea and paralysis. Even a slightly higher dosage can result in hospitalization and sometimes even death.
What makes Brugmansia so toxic are its tropane alkaloids, which possess strong anticholinergic properties. Most plants with anticholinergic properties are from the family Solanaceae, including Atropa, Datura, Hyoscyamus and Mandragora. These plants can be dangerous to your body because they can block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and peripheral nervous systems and disrupts the body’s ability to regulate activities such as heart rate and breathing.
Benefits and Uses of Brugmansia
All parts of the plant are poisonous, but also used medicinally. The plant has been used in South American Andean and Amazonian traditional medicine to treat asthma, tumors and to alleviate fevers. Drugs with anticholinergic properties are frequently prescribed for anxiety, depression and certain types of pain. Therefore, these plants have medicinal value, but they must be handled with great care!
Despite its strong anticholinergic properties, it is used as a recreational drug to induce hallucinations and euphoria. Brugmansia overdose may result in delirium that lasts for days.
The plant has also been used in rituals and ceremonies to mediate with supernatural forces.
Brugmansia is widely used as an ornamental garden plant, due to its unusual, but attractive leaves and flowers.
Brugmansia Plant Data
The flowers come in shades of white, yellow, pink, orange and red.
Autumn, Winter, Summer
The species range in size from 90 cm (3 ft) to 8 m (26 ft) tall.
This plant likes rich, fertile, well-drained and moisture-retentive soil. It also prefers acidic soil, with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0.