28 Aug

Let me tell you about one thing that genuinely puzzles me.
How come people confuse datura and brugmansia? Alright, so the flowers are the same shape, but they point in opposite directions. Moreover, one’s a tree and the other is a shrubby thing at best but often an annual. Surely that is enough difference for anyone to notice.

I present the otherwise excellent Chiltern Seeds’ “Datura x candida ‘Double White Lady'” Now don’t get me wrong, leafing through their catalogue in January is a new year rite and one of my favourite gardening pleasures. But they should sort this out. Synonym “Brugmansia x candida ‘Double White Lady'”? Make your mind up! When I ordered the seeds I assumed that their description was a nod to general ignorance rather than an accurate description. Besides, “x candida” is an epithet belonging to brugmansia hybrids, or so I thought.

Perhaps because they are usually treated as throwaway plants (oh the humanity) in this part of the world, it’s assumed that no-one outside of specialist collectors is interested. Well, i’m interested in the distinction between a tree and summer bedding. And I don’t think I am alone in this. People often seem complaining of latin names but I love their precision. It’s necessary. Sometimes, in conversation, a person will describe something in their garden as a “lily” and all I know is that it could be one of a hundred things. Well, back to the point, i’ve seen images of double- or even triple-trumpeted brugmansia blooms and I want them. Who are Chiltern Seeds to toy with my affections in this way?

So here it is, a datura, hanging on in the face of the slug onslaught –

On a different note, here are two brugmansia (see what I did there?) which were of equal size in spring. Nowadays one looks decidedly sad, though it has flowered for me –

I’m calling him Mr. Puniverse. The other one, which i’m christening Charles Atlas, is seven feet of pure beefcake, though it hasn’t flowered this year –
Now, Charles has been quite heavily shaded but I think the main factor is that Charles’ planting hole was huge, in that I put it in my eldest’s “quarry” and still had to find three barrow loads of soil to backfill the rest of the chasm. Mr. Puniverse, on the other hand, got what he was given. Note for next year: dig larger planting holes.


This time of year, I like to get in and amongst the plants for the full immersive experience, to spot things i’d missed, appreciate familiar plants and combinations from a different angle and simply to take pictures of the light coming through the leaves.


2 Responses to “Solanaceae”

  1. Peter/Outlaw September 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Part of the blame goes to those pesky taxonomists who keep changing their minds about things! Many years ago during my misspent youth, it was explained to me that brugmansias were considered a kind of datura. Now the taxonomists have decided (rightly so, I believe) that, while related, they are different plants. In addition to he differences you noted, the seed pods of datura look like jousting equipment while those of brugmansia are smooth elongated affairs and, to my nose, datura isn’t nearly as fragrant as brugmansia.
    Now let’s all go enjoy our Funkias, Devil’s Dung, and Cuddy’s Lungs!

    • thechthonianlife September 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

      I had fun looking up those names you mentioned; Devil’s Dung looks, erm, tempting.

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