Also known as angel trumpet, brugmansia (Brugmansia suaveolens) is a striking member of the nightshade family that showcases trumpet-shaped blooms up to 12 inches long that are sweetly fragrant. The plant's angelic appearance is deceiving, however, as brugmansia contains a toxic sap that can be dangerous to those who ingest or handle it.
When cut or wounded, brugmansia secretes sap to which some individuals may experience an allergic reaction. According to Trumpet Flowers, the reaction is usually just a minor rash. If you already have sensitivity to other members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes (Solanum spp.), wash your hands after handling the plant. Avoid touching your face or your eyes. According to the government of the Australian state of Queensland, "eye contact with the sap may cause dilated pupils and temporary blindness." You may wish to wear gloves when you prune to avoid repeated contact with the sap. Smelling the flowers may cause some to feel dizzy.
Brugmansia contains alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine. Ingesting the flowers, leaves or seeds can cause a myriad of symptoms, including hallucinations, dry mouth, increased blood pressure and dilated pupils. On the more serious end of the spectrum, symptoms can include muscle weakness, fever and paralysis. If you have concerns about brugmansia poisoning, call the free American Association of Poison Control Centers Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.
Brugmansia has an extremely bitter and unpleasant taste, making accidental poisoning rare, according to Trumpet Flowers. Poisoning is often the result of individuals intentionally consuming tea made from the seeds. The ASPCA warns that cats and dogs can suffer effects on the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and nervous systems if allowed to eat the plant. Though pets will probably have no interest in consuming the plant, you should stop them if you see them nibbling on it. Children should be warned not to put the flowers in their mouths.
A native of southeast Brazil, brugmansia prefers the frost-free climates found in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12. The plant may also be grown in USDA zones 8B to 9B, though it will die down in the winter and sprout again in the spring. Floridata notes that plants repeatedly killed during the winter will generally not live more than a few years. Brugmansia requires a well-draining soil and regular irrigation.
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