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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Angel's Trumpet Brugmansia x candida

The nocturnal scent of Angel's Trumpet is remarkable, suddenly switching on at dusk and filling a conservatory with a fragrance that can be almost overpowering. I have read a story - probably apocryphal, but never mind - that in the plant's native South America mothers wheel their crying infants in prams under these plants because the fragrance is soporific and quickly pacifies them. This particular species is a sterile hybrid and can only be propagated from cuttings. I bought the original plant for £2.50 from Egglestone Hall gardens about twelve years ago and the one in the photo is a 6th. generation clonal descendant. Taking a  cutting every other year and providing a frequent high nitrogen feed produces a 2 metre-tall plant within two years that soon becomes too big for its pot and our small conservatory and must be propagated from cuttings again. Tonight the current incarnation has ten nine inch-long blooms open and the scent pervades the whole house .... it's been flowering since November and there are still plenty of buds to open. That original £2.50 was the bargain of the century.
Seen from below, the buds have this intriguing spiral twist just before they open fully.
Brugmansia, like many members of the potato family (Solanaceae) contains extremely toxic alkaloids which, in appropriate doses, have important medicinal uses .