The huge (4-8 in. diameter), trumpet-shaped, showy flowers are white, sometimes with blue- or pink-tinged margins and tendril-like teeth.  The 5-toothed calyx is tubular and covers half the corolla. There are 5 stamens; 1 pistil. The flowers are mainly noctural, opening late in the day and closing the next morning.  Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA. 7-3-11. © Joan Avise.

Sacred Datura
(Tolguacha, Western Jimson Weed)

Datura wrightii

An 18-36 in. perennial herb found in dry open disturbed places, along roadsides, edges of fields, or grazed grassland throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and S. America.  It produces a large fleshy storage root allowing it to grow in hot dry conditions. Flowering: throughout the year.

Plants in this genus contain strong smelling atropine-like alkaloids.  This is a plant that should never be taken internally for any reason, since even small doses can be fatal.  Even the nectar is poisonous to humans. This plant was well known to Native Americans who used the leaves and crushed roots as a hallucinogen in rituals. More on uses and cultural history. It is associated with the Three-lined Lema Beetle (Lema trivittata).

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Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA. 7-3-11. © Joan Avise.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA.7-3-11. © Joan Avise.

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach, CA. 10-15-06. © Joan Avise.

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach, CA 10-15-06. © Joan Avise.

Seed pod. The plum-sized fruit is a densely prickly capsule with poisonous seeds. Peters Canyon Regional Park, Irvine, CA. 10-8-06. © Joan Avise.

Leaves and seed pods. The alternate, wavy-margined, velvety leaves are covered
with short gray hairs and grow up to 5 inches long.  Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach, CA. 10-15-06. © Joan Avise.

Fruit (seed pod) dried and split open, losing seeds. A nodding, irregular-valved, spiny, hairy capsule containing many flat, tan, grooved seeds which produce hallucinogens and can be fatal when ingested. The dried capsule opens to release the seeds at maturity. Moro Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County, CA. 01-12. © Joan Avise.

Fruit (seed pod) dried and split open. Moro Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County, CA. 01-12. © Joan Avise.

With Three-lined Lema Beetle (Lema trivittata). Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA. 7-3-11. © Joan Avise.