Angel’s Trumpet: The Sweet Smell of Death

On March 24, 2009 I wrote a post called “It’s a weed Jim, but not as we know it”. In that post I included a picture of a plant called Angel’s Trumpet and then said…

This plant is no angel but I can’t tell you about it here. It’s so bad is has to go into Australia’s Bad things category. So I’ll save the Angel’s Trumpet for another day.

Five years on and that day has arrived. Today, you are ready to know. Today, it’s time for me to tell you about Angel’s Trumpet. And no, of course I didn’t forget, honest.

Angels Trumpet: Australian Bad Thing

Angels Trumpet

Angels Trumpet

They are not just an Australian Bad Thing, this plant can also be found in South America, North America, Africa and Asia, as well as my front garden.

Yes, that’s right, the plant in these pictures is in my front garden. Let’s have a closer look at those trumpets…

Trumpets

Those Trumpets

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • They smell absolutely gorgeous.

Cons:

  • They can kill.

Yes, just about every part of this plant is poisonous, very poisonous. Specifically, according to Queensland Health

All parts of the plant are toxic. Symptoms may include intense thirst, difficulty with speech and swallowing, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, dilated pupils, seizures and coma. Deaths have occurred. The perfume can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, and light-headedness. Eye contact with the sap may cause dilated pupils and temporary blindness.

That’s one dangerous plant, isn’t it?

That list of symptoms is very long and one would have thought that the mention of ‘death’ and ‘coma’ would surely convince everyone to stay away from this plant. Unfortunately, some idiots only see the word ‘hallucinations’ and think…

Dude! This will be coooool man, let’s get messed up.

And messed up they will get if they dabble with this stuff, well and truly messed up. Deaths have occurred apparently, although I found no evidence of any fatalities in Australia.

Brugmansia

The scientific name for this large shrub is Brugmansia, it’s part of the Solanaceae family along with a plant called Deadly Nightshade which you probably have heard of. At least “Deadly Nightshade” gives you a clue about the danger of the plant, but “Angel’s Trumpet” gives you no hint of any potential problems at all.

The plant actually gets its name from the shape of the flower, but instead you should think of its name like this:

What kind of state would you likely be in if you actually saw an angel playing a trumpet?

Precisely; this is a plant to stay away from.

Angel’s Trumpet is an Australian Bad Thing.

Update: to find out more about scary plants, and what happened to my Angel’s Trumpet, visit…

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{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Suze July 7, 2018, 11:29 am |

    I had an angel trumpet for years. It looked wonderful and made me happy to see such beauty. Knowing it was poisonous, I wore gloves and glasses when I pruned it and disposed of the cuttings straight away into the green bin. Never composted it. Me and my pets remained healthy because we aren’t stupid enough to eat it. The worst thing I can say about this lovely plant is that it needed a lot of pruning because it grew so well (in Melbourne) and when the flowers dropped it was very messy. Apart from that, I recommend it and just take care. I mean, do you eat your roses? They’re poisonous!

    • BobinOz July 9, 2018, 6:56 pm |

      I think it’s very important to be aware that this plant is poisonous, as you are, and that’s why I wrote this article. Nothing wrong with keeping them in your garden as long as you are careful, and it sounds like you are being very careful.

      I just wanted to make sure as many people knew about the potential dangers as possible.

  • K May 29, 2018, 4:18 pm |

    What an ignorant article. Clearly the fans you’re targeting are the morons who would intentionally eat something they know nothing about… because that is the only way this plant can be harmful. Fact “It is harmful IF CONSUMED”. This article is baseless fear mongering.

    • BobinOz May 30, 2018, 8:36 pm |

      How interesting, another obnoxious comment from someone about a plant, that is, by its nature, obnoxious.

      Even if I were ignorant, which I am not, I do always try to be polite. Maybe you should give it a go.

      Anyway, as the article says, Queensland Health, say “The perfume can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, and light-headedness. Eye contact with the sap may cause dilated pupils and temporary blindness.”

      So you don’t have to eat it, just smelling it, or touching it and then touching your eyes can cause problems. Just like a fresh bird’s eye chili would sting if you did the same.

      Also, some parents of teenage experimental children may be aware, which you obviously are not, that these kids sometimes like to experiment with this sort of thing to see if they can get high. See http://scienceblogs.com/terrasig/2010/07/09/angels-trumpet-will-fyou-up/ for example. If they didn’t know, then seeing my article could help them and lead to them removing this plant from their garden and thus removing the temptation and saving a hospitalisation, or worse.

      It’s not just kids either, some older folk can make mistakes if they don’t know. For example “A 64-year-old Korean female presented with acute mental changes caused by inadvertent ingestion of the petals of Angel’s Trumpet flowers used as a garnish in a traditional Korean food (bibimbop). She regained her usual level of awareness after 10 hours.”

      See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148940/

      So I think I have every right to warn people about the dangers of this plant. Seems the ignorance (and obnoxiousness) is all yours.

  • Edwin Harris Faull April 22, 2018, 5:35 pm |

    Everyone should be allowed to grow brugmansia. Because it’s not as dangerous as you think!
    just remember more people attacked and die by deadly insects mosquitoes and cars accident and war and Lightning !!

  • Edwin Harris Faull April 22, 2018, 4:58 pm |

    Jane
    November 14, 2017
    You are quite clearly an ignorant, uneducated, overly dramatic, ill informed fool. You have no business scaring people with your dishonest summarisation of Brugmansia. It’s only idiot who purposely eat brugmansia plant a lot. And don’t forget there are plants are more dangerous than Brugmansia!! But even the hippopotamus and Lightning kill much more people than plants.

  • Edwin Harris Faull April 22, 2018, 3:09 pm |

    Everyone should be allowed to grow brugmansia.
    just remember more people attacked and die by deadly insects mosquitoes and cars accident and war and Lightning !!

  • Edwin Harris Faull April 22, 2018, 3:00 pm |

    Hi everyone
    It’s okay to grow any brugmansia as long as you don’t eat it. It’s not as dangerous as you think, Bunnings sell oleander plant is very toxic, and like lots of plants are mild\toxic to very toxic. There are lots of plants that are edible, you just have to know which is the right one. Just remember it’s not against the law to grow brugmansia so it’s okay for everyone to grow brugmansia. brugmansia Are very Beautiful plants.
    brugmansia are only dangerous when you eat quite a lot of leaves but Aconitum napellus, “Monkshood, are very dangerous when you eat one big leaves but Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) is very toxic and very dangerous when you rubbing tobacco on your bare skin you’ll get tobacco poisoning.
    opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is illegal and are very addictive and dangerous but it’s dangerous only when you eat it.
    There are more dangerous plants than brugmansia, and just remember the idiots purposely eat the wrong plant or mushrooms. Dog and cat very rarely do eat the wrong plants. Kids don’t usually go out eating every plant unless they are idiots. Humans are smart enough to not trust every plant, that they don’t know the plants won’t eat it unless they’re idiots.
    Death cap mushroom are so extremely dangerous.
    The death cap mushroom looks very similar to edible mushroom and there are lots of mistakes with that. Death cap mushroom is no cure and have to hope for the best to survive.
    You Need to understand your logic better.
    Cheers from Edwin

  • Jane November 14, 2017, 9:18 am |

    You are quite clearly an ignorant, uneducated, overly dramatic, ill informed fool. You have no business scaring people with your dishonest summarisation of Brugmansia. Like anything in life… danger exists only for idiots who don’t exercise due care. I have over 17 cultivars of this plant growing in my garden, chickens, children, a dog and four cats… surprise, surprise, with care and education of my children, we are…. yep…. ALIVE! Morons like you are a blight on humanity.

    • BobinOz November 14, 2017, 8:42 pm |

      How wonderful to hear from somebody who is even more obnoxious than the plant itself. Whether your kids and pets are alive or not, and whether you like it or not, this plant is poisonous and dangerous.

      ‘Symptoms may include intense thirst, difficulty with speech and swallowing, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, dilated pupils, seizures and coma. Deaths have occurred.’

      See https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/poisonous-plant-angels-trumpet-brugmansia-x-candida/

      ‘Attempts by Australians to experiment with this aspect of the plant (median age 18, 82 per cent male) have led to hospitalisation for tachycardia and delirium, with associated accidental injury.’

      See http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/angels-trumpet-is-heavenly-20150205-10p5tg.html

      Not to mention Wikipedia…

      ‘All parts of Brugmansia are potentially poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous. Brugmansia are rich in scopolamine (hyoscine), hyoscyamine, and several other tropane alkaloids. Effects of ingestion can include paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations, mydriasis, rapid onset cycloplegia, and death.’

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brugmansia

      Anyway, I’d best let you go, you have your work cut out visiting all the other websites on the World Wide Web who are saying how dangerous this plant is and calling them morons.

      • Owais April 19, 2018, 4:04 am |

        I wonder if the honey made from the nectar of the flowers will have similar effects. Bees absolutely love them. I planted a second one and they look amazing in my garden. Luckily they’ve grown tall enough to be well out of reach of my cats and any little humans. Cats and little humans don’t generally go around my garden tasting the leaves, though, so I’m inclined to think I was needlessly worried. An adult could reach the plants easily, but since they’re in my backyard I would hope any humans I let in there don’t go around licking my plants. Any that do can go ahead and hallucinate their way back home and out of my life.

    • Mark November 15, 2017, 6:32 am |

      Hi Jane… Thanks for your very informative view of errrr,,,I guess you learn something new everyday. In your case I have learned that despite this plant as being on record as causing several deaths over the years, that’s several too many, especially for the family and friends of those that died. Some folks like yourself like having it around…OK each to their own I guess (and yes your all alive). Personally Id rather not have the risk…
      You have trained your flock well not to touch it. Which means you know of its nasty side otherwise why would you have educated your children about it….You cannot see the benefits of this slightly tongue in cheek webpage about it, as being helpful to those that don’t know about its toxic effects…
      If this page stops one child touching it and becoming ill through not washing hands etc then I’m all for it… Look at the lady below who was going to press the flowers.
      Personally speaking id say with your verbal attack on the writer (instead of being helpful) you are clearly alive from this plant but I wonder has it had some effect…
      It would also suggest that several other people as you put it are uneducated morons in your eyes. certainly if you read this but I do take your point its not that bad, after all its only number 3 on the list of Australia’s most poisonous plants…Strychnine thats number 2 thats far worse. What harm can Brugmansia be at number 3 ?
      http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2012/07/australias-most-poisonous-plants/
      I can just imagine your place when children visit yes of course you can play in the garden but can you stay away from that plant and that one oh! and that one and don’t go near those and Oh! yes forgot those over there, stay away from them and that one but you have all the rest of the garden to play in..Here is the Ludo board, dont throw the dice too far will you?

      • Owais April 19, 2018, 3:55 am |

        It’s only harmful if ingested. There are no effects imparted from touching it, smelling it (may vary slightly from person to person), looking at it, pointing at it, screaming at it, or sneezing near it. It’s not like poison ivy, where touching it will give you a rash. Its leaves see beautiful and wide, the flowers are leathery and satiny, and the bees absolutely love it. Just don’t let it near your mouth or anyone else’s, just like 90% of the plants in one’s garden, and everything will be just fine.

        • BobinOz April 19, 2018, 8:30 pm |

          Well, Queensland health seem to believe that “The perfume can cause respiratory irritation…” etc, see full quote above, so maybe you should take it up with them. I’m not going to argue with you though, I’m busy bashing my head against a brick wall at the moment 🙂

          • Dcd July 10, 2018, 1:27 pm |

            Thank you. For your info..just late for me..have been pruning this plant constantly not knowing it’s danger..I have a horrific rash making me crazy..not Posione ivy or oak or sumac..on predisone lotion benedryl. Nothing helps..ugh!! wish I had known.. garden place told us if ingested by an animal could kill them, don’t have animals.. nothing about touch.

            • BobinOz July 10, 2018, 8:40 pm |

              Sorry you didn’t find this page earlier, it may have saved you from the suffering you are now going through. I hope it clears up soon, and if it doesn’t, I’d certainly consider going to see a doctor if I were you.

              It sounds mightily unpleasant at the moment.

  • Ozimandias October 4, 2017, 10:20 pm |

    I rather like the comment online “For drama in the garden, there’s nothing like Brugmansia”.
    It sounds like it has more or less the same brain altering properties as Datura, namely anticholinergic poisoning.
    Acetylcholine is a major neurotransmitter for the brain, important in memory formation and pupillary muscle relaxation, by the looks of things also for perception. This plant has chemicals which block good functioning of acetylcholine, hence the term anticholinergic.
    I’m not sure this is an Australian native plant, though happy to stand corrected.

    • BobinOz October 5, 2017, 9:30 pm |

      Hmm, yes, but not the kind of drama most of us would want in our lives, I’m sure we all quite like a little bit of perception and relaxation, not to mention how nice it is to remember stuff. Thanks for the detail, definitely a plant to stay away from.

  • laetitia October 4, 2017, 9:47 pm |

    Thanks to you my kids and rabbits dog and birds are safe
    I almost bought some for flower pressing leaf pressing kids art. For the kids . Whole plant.
    Kids put hands in mouths without realizing being asthmatics and having allergies towards other plants you saved my family thankyou 🙂

    • BobinOz October 5, 2017, 9:25 pm |

      Rabbits? Rabbits! I do hope you are not in Queensland 🙂

      https://www.bobinoz.com/blog/16501/wild-and-domesticated-rabbits-in-australia/

      Anyway, I am very pleased to hear that I have saved your kids and pets from the above listed horrors these plants can inflict, it’s actually made my day. It’s probably not quite enough to get me nominated for Australian of the year, but next time I’m in a pub or something and anyone cares to listen to me, I might casually mention about saving some kids and rabbits and dogs and birds, in a non-boastful way of course 🙂

  • Elena January 25, 2017, 11:57 am |

    Hello there! I wonder if your angel trumpet tree is in Melbourne? if so, I would love with your permission to get some of the flowers please! Thank you.

    • BobinOz January 27, 2017, 4:42 pm |

      No, my Angel trumpet tree was not ever in Melbourne, it was in Brisbane. Alas, it is no more, having cold-bloodedly been poisoned before it poisoned my cat, dog or any other creature. Live by the sword, die by the sword, as they say.

      I think you can get them in garden centres though 🙂

  • i know September 5, 2016, 7:15 pm |

    haha there isnt two plants that look the same theres just the one and i guarantee you have no idea what your on about. i dont know how to say it but you think theres two plants haha theres just different names for the same plant in the picture. maybe you did have some and youve been affected so bad you read up on it and got confused. the other species of this plant are from overseas and the flowers come in different colours. haha what more do you need to be told you moron

    • BobinOz September 7, 2016, 12:21 am |

      Allow me to share with you my thoughts. You posted this particular comment at 7:15 PM on 5 September using the name ‘i know’. With this comment you come across as arrogant, telling me I don’t know what I’m on about, and insulting, you call me a moron. You also appear to be suffering from intermittent uncontrolled laughter which presents itself with your copious use of ‘haha’.

      Then, just 13 minutes later and a few comments below, you post another comment using the name ‘yeahnah bullish’. In this comment there is no arrogance displayed, no insults and no sign of that uncontrolled laughter. I think you have to face reality; your use of Angels trumpets appears to have induced paranoid schizophrenia, which we used to call split personality in the old days but which I now believe is referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

      I’d stop munching flowers if I were you, and maybe see a doctor.

      • yeahnah bullish September 7, 2016, 1:05 pm |

        i like your assumptions about me they make me laugh because this whole article YOU posted is an assumption about something youve never experienced so there for you DONT know and as for what i do in my life …the last thing ill do is be judged and take advice from someone who posts an article on something they know nothing about. checkmate .

        • BobinOz September 8, 2016, 9:05 pm |

          I don’t have to try Angel’s trumpet before warning people of its dangers, same as I don’t have to be eaten by a crocodile to warn people not to swim in rivers in Northern Territory.

          You think I have got the wrong plant here and so does George Fuller below. I don’t think I have, but when I say ‘I don’t think I have’ that’s what I mean. I don’t have your arrogance so I am not going to say I’m definitely right.

          I will leave people to judge for themselves, by visiting the International Brugmansia and Datura Society. Here’s how they describe the difference:

          Angel’s Trumpet versus Devil’s Trumpet

          It is easy to envision the hanging flowers of Brugmansia as Angel’s Trumpets, blasting from the heavens towards the Devil down below. Likewise, Datura’s trumpet-shaped flowers call upwards to the heavens. Datura prefer to be watered only when the roots are dry; Brugmansia require more water. One should avoid watering Datura from overhead, as this will spoil the upwards-facing flowers.

          http://ibrugs.com/Home.aspx

          As they clearly state, Datura flowers face upwards, as you can see in the photograph, my flowers definitely point downwards towards the devil. I am no gardener, but from everything I’ve read I still believe my flowers are Angel’s trumpet.

          • Owais April 19, 2018, 4:16 am |

            Your are 100% correct, according to my, and the internet’s, knowledge.

      • Tina May 25, 2017, 1:41 pm |

        “Schizophrenia” and “Multiple Personality Disorder/ Split personality” as it was called in the old days and now goes by” Dissociative Identity Disorder”. are 2 totally different mental disorders. You should check up on your facts before you go throwing around labels to very serious illnesses to appear funny and clever. You just end up looking ignorant,arrogant and uninformed.

        • BobinOz May 25, 2017, 8:20 pm |

          Yes, humour can often cause offence to small minorities, always has and hopefully always will because if we have to check every joke for political correctness before we are allowed to say it, there will be much less joviality in the world.

          And no, I didn’t check my facts, but this is just a comment, I’m not writing an article for a medical journal. There are over 40,000 comments on this website and I get involved in a lot of conversations. If I had to research everything I say in these comments before I publish them, I’d never get any sleep. What I try to do when somebody is aggressive or insulting towards me is to defuse it with humour and that’s what I tried to do in this conversation.

          I won’t bother with you though, I’m sure you would find offensive if I did.

        • Chelsea August 18, 2017, 4:01 pm |

          To Tina –

          Your comment was SOOOO annoyingly rude and so unnecessary. Leave this man alone, it’s not like he was writing an article about mental disorders. He was simply stating his opinion, and I agree with him . Rediculous.

  • yeahnah bullish July 21, 2016, 8:40 pm |

    um that plant in the picture is datura and i know this because i eat it and yeah it can kill you if you overdo it .dont correct me because im right i know from experience .i once had this plant and time slowed down.it is potent but in small doses its okay .whoever made this page doesnt know that all datura makes you trip out and is poisoness. try it before you judge it please

    • BobinOz July 22, 2016, 3:15 pm |

      ‘try it before you judge it please’ – that’s the funniest thing I’ve read from a long time!

      Try it? Whether it’s Angel’s trumpet or datura, they are both quite toxic, why would anybody want to try it? I still think my pictures are of angel’s trumpet, but I know the two plants are very similar and often mistaken for each other, so we’ll just have to disagree.

      But thanks for making me laugh; if ever I want time to slow down, I know what to do now 🙂

      • yeahnah bullish September 5, 2016, 7:28 pm |

        haha its your loss if you dont try it and simply judge it. i have stepped through different levels of reality and you have sat shortmindedly judging this wonder of nature. it makes you very thirsty and makes your eyes look awsome for a few days ,you can sense if someone is good or evil now by the vibes they give out, ive got to tell you if you dont eat/drink/smoke this flower youll never know what it does but ill leave that up you if you believe propaganda or not. it can kill you but in the right doses its not that bad. maybe you havent got the courage because you believe stories .it does some weird things but nothing that matters

  • George fuller August 15, 2015, 1:17 pm |

    You got the wrong plant!!! You want Datura. That’s the angel of death. A close cousin of Brugmansia which is not poisonous at all. The Datura has spike seed pods and a saw tooth leaves.

    • BobinOz August 16, 2015, 7:13 pm |

      I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here George, but the pictures I have of plants in my post are definitely Angel’s Trumpet, scientific name Brugmansia and they are toxic and can kill.

      There is another plant called Datura which is also known as Angel’s Trumpet and is also poisonous, but that’s not what this post is about.

  • Marion January 26, 2015, 12:39 pm |

    When you say Angles Trumpet is deadly do you mean by smelling flowers
    touching the leaves & or cutting the plant back. ?
    How long does it take for affects to take affect.?
    marion

    • BobinOz January 27, 2015, 5:21 pm |

      All I can tell you for sure Marion is that smelling the flowers is not a problem, I think you have to do something stupid like eat them or make a cup of tea out of the leaves. I’m not sure what handling them does, probably best to wear gardening gloves and you certainly don’t want to be touching them and then putting your fingers in your mouth.

      I had an Angels Trumpet in my front garden for about six years or so, nobody died 🙂

  • Kamma May 1, 2014, 7:19 pm |

    Wow! Thanks for the warning, Bob. Stay clear of trumpets.

    I was just about to say that! You’re probably not in a very good place, or rather in way to good a place, if angels are playing trumpets around you.

    • BobinOz May 2, 2014, 8:31 pm |

      Yes, maybe it is a good place, but I don’t think many of us consider ourselves ready for it just yet. 🙂

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