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Datura inoxia

Datura inoxia flower.jpg

Range: Native- Southwestern North America, Central and northern South America, introduced worldwide

Perhaps more appropriately spelled D. innoxia, this pungent plant is known by many names: Devil's Trumpet, Moonflower, Downy Thorn Apple, and others. Native to the central portions of the Americas but spread by cultivators nearly worldwide, this species is adapted to moderately moist but well-draine soils within plains or open forests, though is highly adaptable and may tolerate anything from drought to flooding in the right parameters. Plants may reach more than 1.5 meters in height when fully grown, and even broader in width, with many-branched pubescent stems covered in grayish hairs. The leaves are elliptic to arrow-shaped and similarly hairy, developing in pairs on either side of the stem and typically possess smooth to mildly serrated edges. Flowers are produced singularly at the ends of each branch, developing within a fuzzy elongate cup-shaped calyx and may reach lengths of more than 20 cm, equally as wide with a broad trumpet shape. Color is nearly always pure white. Once the flowers are pollinated, they will fall off, and the ovary will expand out into a globose, thorny capsule that dries hard and releases  many dozens of flat, tannish or white seeds. The seed color, pubescent texture of the plant, and smooth leaf edges set this species apart from its relatives such as D. metel, D. stramonium, and others.

Cultivation: Grow in a rich, well-draining soil in a large pot or in-ground, kept moist but preferably not wet and temperatures above freezing for the duration of the growing period. Fertilize regularly with standard all-purpose solutions diluted to recommended levels, or with occasional applications of osmocote pellets to the soil. Sow seeds on soil surface, and grow in partial to full sun.

Lifespan and reproduction: annual in temperate regions, perennial tuberous-rooted plant in zones 9 or warmer. Reproduces via seeds, may be propagated via division of the roots.

It should be noted that this species, like all of its relatives, should be planted with caution if there are small children or pets liable to chew on them around, as all parts of the plant contain highly toxic alkaloid poisons that can cause hallucinations, vomiting, or even death in relatively small doses. Flowers are purported to occasionally be fragrant, but any disturbance or damage to the leaves may also release powerful pungent defensive odors.


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