Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bride of Visions and Death

Ahh, the Datura.  Found everywhere in the Southwest. . . scrub grassland, gravel roadsides and, suddenly in your backyard or, if you intentionally want it around, a planter.
 Nine species belonging to the family Solanaceae, the potato family,  a usually poisonous family whose natural distribution is largely restricted to the United States and Mexico where the highest diversity of its types occur.
A good friend, Bob Peterson, referred to photos of the blossoms as, "wedding dresses".
The irony. . . these wedding dresses can kill you.

For the uninitiated: 
All Datura plants contain tropane alkaloids such as scopolaminehyoscyamine, and atropine, primarily in their seeds and flowers. Because of the presence of these substances, Datura has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison and hallucinogen. There can be a 5:1 toxin variation across plants, and a given plant's toxicity depends on its age, where it is growing, and the local weather conditions. This variation make Datura exceptionally hazardous as a drug. In traditional cultures, a great deal of experience with, and detailed knowledge of, Datura was critical in order to minimize harm. Many tragic incidents result from modern recreational users ingesting Datura. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, the United States media contained stories of adolescents and young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting Datura.

The moral?  Look but don't eat.  Marriage can kill you :)