Sacred Datura, or Devil's Trumpet is a common wildflower on the Colorado Plateau, the area of the western United States called 'The Four Corners,' where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. Also called Jimsom Weed, it grows in Maine as a reseeding annual as it does in the West. David once brought seed pods to me from a now forgotten garden. He didn't know what they were but was curious enough to bring them to me. He knew I would know what they were, and indeed, I did. I've had them for a couple of years, but haven't gotten around to planting them. Part of my hold-up, besides just having a brain like Swiss cheese that doesn't retain thoughts for long, is that the plant grows up to four feet tall. I just don't have the room for it. Laden with white, sometimes lavender trumpets, they get so big that they topple over from their own weight unless staked. That's a chore I avoid adding to my gardening concerns since again, I often fail to get around to it. It's just one more thing to do, and once a plant has fallen over, the damage has been done. Plants staked after the fact take on a post Greco-Roman wrestling match look as that's usually what it takes from the gardener. Another reason I have not planted the Datura is that the stems, leaves and seeds are highly poisonous. It is a member of the Nightshade family, just like the Chinese Lanterns I wrote about recently. The plant contains alkaloids which you may recognize - atropine, scapolomine and hyoscyamine. The first two are used in anesthesia induction before you get the gas. Even deeply inhaling the heady perfume of the flowers can provoke headaches and dizziness. Specifically, the seeds are hallucinogenic and narcotic with stronger values than LSD, peyote and psyllicibin combined. Native Americans of the West, such as the Yaqui made a tea from the roots, leaves and seeds to induce visions for consciousness expanding exercises. Carlos Castaneda, in The Teachings Of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way Of Knowledge, wrote of his own experiences trying this stuff out. A very low dose is used to make the hallucinogenic tea, and guaranteed - visions will be had, and possibly permanent psychosis and death if you screw it up.
Lovely blossom of Sacred Datura, photo taken in Moab, Utah on Potash Road
I have always disliked Halloween and considered it a nuisance 'holiday', especially when my kids were growing up. I was a good mom and made costumes for my little ones and helped them to assemble their own when they got older. But, I felt dragged into the whole fan fare and was relieved when it was over. I was lucky enough to live in a rural area where very few Trick Or Treaters pestered me. I thought I had become of an age where I could totally opt out, but apparently not. Now, my friends have grandchildren old enough that I'm pulled into the orbit of their Halloween. David and I had to dress up for Halloween this year to humor my friend whose grandson was coming to Trick Or Treat at her house. I was struggling to come up with a costume idea when my friend asked me on the phone, "Well, what do you want to be?" I said, "Filthy %^&* rich!!! And you?" David didn't want to do it at all, which meant his costume responsibilities were foisted onto me, The Wife. My first idea was to be 'Jon And Kate Plus Eight.' I already had a blond wig I could use. I was going to get 8 baby dolls from the dump, tie a length of rope around their necks and drag them behind me. As 'Jon,' David would not have to dress up at all since Jon and Kate just got a divorce, so he didn't matter anymore. However, I could not get the dolls together in time, so I had to bail on that plan. Then, I thought "Ocotomom!" You may recall that woman who gave birth to eight babies a year or so ago. I was going to get eight dolls and duct tape them around my stomach. They would each face outward, arms and legs extended as if pleading for help. I was going to get a pair of those big wax lips we used to get for penny candy (now THAT dates me, doesn't it?). Over-sized red lips would make me look like the Octomom, Natalie Sulia. She claims she never had silicone shot into them to make her look like Angelina Jolie, but I don't believe her. Anyway, that plan was also foiled for lack of time to round up les enfants. So, I had to go with available material and be Ruby Robinson, Star Of Stage And Screen. David was my body guard, 'Bod,' for short. When I asked him how I looked, he said "My dear, you are just a vision of loveliness." I think somebody had been into my datura seed stash.