Far Out Flora

Brugmansia: Friend or Foe?


I was in the back garden yesterday and I hear a voice over the fence.  It was our neighbor pointing at his Brugmansia and that he heard that it may be poisonous. Well, it can be if ingested and painful if it gets in your eye.

Brugmansia insignis 'Jean Pasko'

Brugmansia insignis 'Jean Pasko'

I did some research and all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans, pets, and livestock. Apparently, some regions of the country have banned the sale of it because death can occur if ingested.  Looks like the Bay Area is not one of those regions.  We were in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens admiring this golden flowering cultivar called Brugmansia insignis ‘Jean Pasko’.

Brugmansia insignis 'Jean Pasko'

Brugmansia insignis 'Jean Pasko'

If I had to choose a Brugmansia, I would pick this red and yellow one below, Brugmansia sanguinea ‘Pasachoa’.

Brugmansia sanguinea 'Pasachoa'

Brugmansia sanguinea 'Pasachoa'

These guys like fertile, well draining soil, and full sun to part shade.  They belong to SOLANACEAE, the Nightshade family.  A lot of agricultural crops also belong to the Nightshade family such as tomatoes.  We’ve lived with the neightbor’s plant for several years (it drapes over to our side of the fence).  I think we should be fine…but will be diligent wearing gloves whenever I’m trimming this guy away from the fence.  Does anybody have any tips or stories on this plant…good or bad?

– Far Out Flora


  1. here’s a wee side note: I think it was a bit of the pollen of the similar Angel’s trumpet (Datura) that the upper class ladies of Victorian England used to add to their afternoon teas to take a little ‘trip.’ But a few may have taken the big trip to the Above, because it can kill ya, too. OOPS!

  2. Our lab mix puppy chewed off every plant in our back yard that bloomed, including the brugmansia I had in a pot to plant. I will say she did not totally destroy the thick stem of the plant but it was severely marked up with teeth marks. No signs of sickness but she must have had a pretty strong stomach with all the other plants we lost through this puppy stage.

    I think information is power, know what potential your plants contain. Most kids these days will not graze out in the yard unless it comes in a McDonald’s box.

  3. Many people have a plethora of poisonous plants in their garden, or pass such plants everyday, without realizing it, until they read or heard somewhere that such and such plant is poisonous. On the islands where I live oleander and datura respectively are everywhere, and I never heard of either human or animal being poisoned. The brugmansia ban was because people were boiling and ingesting it (as I have heard of people doing in SF).

    • Nicole: Interesting. Yup, sure enough. Seems that Urarina Shamans (indigenous people in Peru) use in in ceremonies. But also notes that results of indigestion is unpredictable and sometimes lethal.

      Tufagirl, glad the puppy is doing okay. I agree there is a ton of stuff in my garden…and frankly all over the household…that would be considered dangerous. Just need to keep them all in check.

      Aflowergal: nice note on the Victorian Ladies..

  4. Check out this blog on wordpress. Believe it or not it is ALL devoted to this plant! http://surrowhansen.wordpress.com/

  5. Folklore says that if you fall asleep beneath a Brugmansia, you’ll have a very narcotic, trippy nap. I mentioned this the other day to a friend who has a huge, “old-growth” plant in the back of his Mission-Doloros house, and he said he mentioned it to an older friend from Latin America and she indeed confirmed this is true. ! Anyhow, being in the Solanceae fam it’s related to Belladonna, which was used by Italian women to dilate their pupils and supposed this makes a woman look more beautiful.
    Anyhow, beautiful blog. I think I saw you two at the City College scholarship awards ceremony — there was only one couple who won and I’m 99.9% sure it was you guys! We should connect more and geek out on plants! Best, katie

    • That’s rad! Matti doesn’t like the neighbor’s tree since it drops flowers on our side of the fence, but I like it. I’ll have to stick my face in a flower and see what happens. It had to have been us at the scholarship awards. We should definitely geek out on plants in real life!

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