Appearance''Brugmansia suaveolens'' is a semi-woody shrub or small tree, growing up to 3–5 m tall, often with a many-branched trunk. The leaves are oval, to 25 cm long by 15 cm wide, and even larger when grown in the shade. The flowers are remarkably beautiful and sweetly fragrant, about 24–32 cm long and shaped like trumpets. The corolla body is slightly recurved to 5 main points, but the very peaks in the true species are always curved outwards, never rolled back, and these peaks are short, only 1–2.5 cm long. The flowers are usually white but may be yellow or pink and hang downward from fully pendulous up to nearly horizontal.
DistributionThis Angel Trumpet was originally endemic to the coastal rainforests of south-east Brazil, where it grows below 1000 m along river banks and forest edges with warm temperatures, high humidity, and heavy rainfall. As a result of human interaction with this species, it can now be found growing in residential areas throughout much of South America; and occasionally in Central America, Mexico, and even in parts of Florida.
HabitatThis Angel Trumpet was originally endemic to the coastal rainforests of south-east Brazil, where it grows below 1000 m along river banks and forest edges with warm temperatures, high humidity, and heavy rainfall. As a result of human interaction with this species, it can now be found growing in residential areas throughout much of South America; and occasionally in Central America, Mexico, and even in parts of Florida.Fragrant in the evenings to attract pollinating moths, they hang half-closed during the day, but return to their peak again in the evenings.
Brugmansia have two main stages to their life cycle. In the initial vegetative stage the young seedling grows straight up on usually a single stalk, until it reaches its first main fork at 80–150 cm high. It will not flower until after it has reached this fork, and then only on new growth above the fork. Cuttings taken from lower vegetative region must also grow to a similar height before flowering, but cuttings from the upper flowering region will often flower at a very low height.
One interesting example of plant/animal interaction involves the butterfly ''Placidula euryanassa'', who uses ''Brugmansia suaveolens'' as one of its main larval foods. It has been shown that these can sequester the plant's tropane alkaloids and store them through the pupal stage on to the adult butterfly, where they are then used as a defense mechanism, making themselves less palatable to vertebrate predators.
DefenseEvery part of ''Brugmansia suaveolens'' is poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous.
As in other species of ''Brugmansia'', ''B. suaveolens'' is rich in Scopolamine , hyoscyamine, atropine, and several other tropane alkaloids.
Effects of ingestion can include paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, visual and auditory hallucinations, mydriasis, rapid onset
cycloplegia, and death.
UsesMany South American cultures use ''Brugmansia suaveolens'' ritually. The Ingano and Siona in the Putumayo region both use it as an entheogen. It is also use by some Amazonian tribes as an admixture to increase the potency of Ayahuasca. The flowers and the seeds are traditionally used in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil, mixed
in water and ingested for its analgesic-like effect.
Flower extracts have shown pain-killing activity in mice. This antinociceptive activity may be related in part to benzodiazepine receptors.
Cultural''Brugmansia'' are grown as ornamentals outdoors year-round in non-freezing climates around the world. Like other large-leaved, fast-growing plants, they appreciate a little protection from the wind, as well as from the hottest afternoon sun. They like organically rich soil, frequent water, and heavy fertilizer when in full growth. Both woody and leafy tip cuttings are used to propagate ''Brugmansia'', although thicker cuttings tolerate lower humidity. In northern climes they are often grown out in large containers and wintered over in non-freezing garages or basements.
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