Are brugmansia safe to grow?
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Author:  Timedwards [ Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:08 am ]
Post subject:  Are brugmansia safe to grow?


I am a little confused re the difference between Brugmansiaa and Datura and the dangers of having them in my garden and greenhouse re toxicity. Lovely though they are and truly exotic looking I have read all sorts of horror stories online! The fact that they are easily and cheply raised from seeds makes them attractive to me. Are some variants safer than others or have any real dangers been bred out of the cultivated brugmansias? A lot of plants are harmful if eaten of course and we have to be rational but I have read warnings against planting them near veg and fruit or where they can be brushed against! Can anybody enlighten me please since I have a 4 yr old granddaughter?

Thanks Tim

Author:  Chad [ Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

Getting a sensible perspective on plant poisonings isn't easy given the hysterical reporting the rare cases receive.

I can't find a case of 'contact' poisoning for either Brugmansia or Datura in the literature.

There is a good review of plant related poisonings from The German Poisons Centres. Their data suggest concern with the following genera; Aconitum, Arum, Chelidonium, Datura, Brugmansia, Dieffenbachia, Ricinus, Taxus. Deaths were seen with Aconitum and Taxus.

Datura poisoning is mainly seen in adolescents 'experimenting' with it as a possible hallucinogen [they should have read more widely - there are far more interesting and safer alternatives!], but occasionally seen in toddlers eating the attractive [?] seeds.

Brugmansia poisoning has case reports in adults who either ate the flowers or the roots.

I haven't found a break down of British cases, but our poisons centre publish a 'leaflet' on what to do if there is a suspicion of poisoning. Brugmansia and Datura are not 'important' enough to make it onto the leaflet.

Statistically the risk is no small the answer to your headline question is 'yes'. But if your emotional response is towards caution I would suggest you don't grow any on the German list [nor foxgloves or Laburnum from the English leaflet] until your Granddaughter is old enough to know not to randomly chew 'pretty flowers'. Not having kids of my own I don't know how old that is; and from the published cases for Brugmansia it appears it is adults who are more at risk!


Author:  David Matzdorf [ Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

I have a somewhat cynical approach to this, because the reputation of Brugmansias and Daturas for toxicity is overblown for a specific reason, which is that they were associated with the word "hallucinogenic", especially in America, which led to a spate of falsified/invented scare stories from the "war on drugs" crowd.

They are hallucinogenic, but not in the "trippy" sense. The effects are reportedly unpleasant and alarming and no one would choose these plants for a novel experience.

A measured approach would be to confirm that they are toxic, but no more dangerous (probably less so) than Aconitum, Nerium oleander, Ricinus, Laburnum, Digitalis and other genera much more commonly grown in traditional gardens than Brugmansia.

I have grown multiple Brugmansias for 20 years. I wash my hands after I prune them or handle them roughly and I take care not to get sap in my eyes when pruning. That's the limit of my protective measures and I've never had a problem.

Generally, a flowering Brugmansia has its flowers and most of its leaves well out of reach of a small child. They rarely flower when small (only recently-taken cuttings) and tend to lose their lower leaves as the season progresses.

There are a lot more dangerous plants in the garden, such as those listed above. I don't consider Brugmansia to be any more of hazard than Helleborus, Euphorbia or Arum, all of which I also grow.

Author:  johnw [ Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

Daturas are banned here but not Brugsmansias. Datura will self-seed in pastureland and are said to be lethal (in quantity?) to livestock.

To this list add Oleander; I recall a story about 30 years ago of a group of teenagers in California who were having a late night hotdog roast on the beach. Unfortunately they randomly grabbed sticks on which tio cook the dogs & these turned out be Oleander twigs. All died and were found the next morning.


Author:  Timedwards [ Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

Thanks very much for your responses to my question. I have some very nice Arum in my garden which my Dad grew from seed and never had any concerns over them. My granddaughter, who lives with, us has food allergies and so does not eat anything unless she knows it is safe for her so she is more careful than the average adult! My concern was definitely regarding contact/touch. Ironically the article regarding siting them to avoid brushing past was American written and so perhaps it was indeed exaggerated due to the drug associations. Since I can't imagine any of my family either smoking or making a cup of tea with them I am now happy to grow Brugmansia and am quite excited about the prospect since they are a truly stunning looking plant and my wife loves a bit of colour in the garden to complement my obsession with unusual leaf and structure. Thanks for the excellent responses.

Author:  Stan [ Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

I wonder if Brugs arent sometimes a danger by pets that might eat parts by accident. A dog for example that's eating some fish know how dogs like stinky things.. Could get sick on fallen parts of Brugmansia.
My Dog once had a bad reaction one the time I got him to the vet,he seemed recovered but out of it tired. Months later,I don't know,I sort of added it all up. So,I cant say "That's exactly the cause". I just wonder. It might even have been the fish emulsion. I dont know.

Author:  stephenprudence [ Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

I grew edible plants around a Brugmansia (where roots may have touched the edible plants) and has no effect from eating the edibles so probably not a worry unless you go all out to actually consume a piece of Brugmansia. Aconitum napellus is extremely dangerous, far more so than Brugmansia, and even a miniscule drop of sap accidently ingested from snapping a stem from the plant can lead to writhing agony, and death within 5-6 hours of accidently consuming it. To think Victorian gardeners used to use this plant as a feature in herb gardens.

Author:  Chad [ Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

Aconitum is another one whose press profile is far worse than the actuality of the plant.

It is poison, and is one of the few plants that if you found out you had eaten any of it you NEED to get to an emergency department early; but...

A coroner's court caused vast confusion that the press then made worse. As reported in The Telegraph at the time, since no cause of death could be found for Nathan Greenaway it suggested he might have 'brushed past' some Aconitum. No toxicology nor any other supporting evidence.

I can find no case of proven Aconitum poisoning that did not involve ingestion of plant parts [on purpose - usually someone else's purpose!], or ingestion of a concentrated 'tincture' intended for dilution and use in tiny amounts in 'traditional' medicine, but actually taken as a lot. Even the tincture needs 20 - 40 ml to be lethal. There a is a good review of the Chinese experience but the full text is 'pay walled'. None of the cases were of incidental exposure to plant sap, nor poisoning through the skin.


Author:  stephenprudence [ Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are brugmansia safe to grow?

In terms of the chance of it happening, yes it's very low.. you would have to be either ingesting it on purpose or completely oblivious to the fact it's toxic to come undone.

I've spoken with a botanist who is very wary of Aconitine, and in this instance I don't think it's profile is necessarily exaggerated. That won't stop people working with it of course, but all you need is the sap in an open wound. Aconitine is quite concentrated in Aconitum, that's why generally it pays to be cautious.

But there's no reason to stop working with toxic plants of course, as almost certainly nothing will happen.

Brugmansia I often prune/repot/plant with bare hands, and I've never had a problem

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