Red Butte Photo of the Day August 25, 2009

Submitted August 25, 2009 at 8:11 AM

Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)

The Sacred Datura is a member of the nightshade family (which also includes tobacco, and food crops such as potatoes, tomatoes and chile peppers). Datura is a perennial herb which grows from a tuberous root to 2-5 feet in height and 3-6 feet in width. It has dark green leaves which grows to 6 inches long and are oval or heart shaped.

Datura is commonly found in washes and roadsides at elevations from 1000 to 6000 feet and begins flowering in mid to late summer.

The flower is large.....the largest native flower to Utah (5-6 inches in diameter and 6-8 inches in length). They open around dusk and stay open throughout the next day. The flowers are followed by a 2 inch round prickly seed pod.

The Sacred Datura contains numerous toxic alkaloids. All parts of this plant are very poisonous if ingested.

Native Americans used this plant for ceremonial purposes to induce visions, many of them dying in the process.

This beautiful flower can be found growing in numerous locations throughout Red Butte Garden and in the yards of many flower gardens in Salt Lake City.

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