Angel's Trumpet vs Devil's Trumpet Flower

When I had a shady, forest-like garden in Northern Virginia, I dreamed of having some of the exotic flowers that thrived in warm, sunny spots growing in my gardens. And, on what was truly a whim (I mean, if I'd really thought it through completely, I would have known it could never grow well (or really at all) in such shade as was my yard!) I bought an Angel's Trumpet Flower, planted it in a pretty pot and put it on our back patio for the summer.

I had been enticed by the stunning photos in a gardening catalog of a beautiful, HUGE Angel's Trumpet plant - an almost bush or tree-like plant with what looked like hundreds upon hundreds of long, pastel flowers showering down from it.

I was sure it would be a hummingbird mecca in my yard and I was sure that I needed one, and QUICK.

I had very high hopes for it, but, like so many other sun loving plants, it ended up being a disappointment in my shady garden. It only got to be a few feet tall, flowered a little, but nothing to write home about, and eventually died back and was finally put to rest in the compost pile. I blamed the shade and never thought of trying another one.

Honestly, I wasn't THAT disappointed about it. I think just about everything on Angel's Trumpet plants is poisonous (flowers, leaves, seeds, everything!), so I was always a bit worried about that. And, although the flowers smelled nice, the plant itself (the leaves and stem) absolutely stunk. I don't know what it was about it, but I found the smell of it to be rather disgusting. I didn't want to touch it or brush against it for fear of the smell.

Fast forward about 7 years.

I had just about completely forgotten that Angel's Trumpet Flowers existed ... until something sprouted in our vegetable garden this summer and I had a feeling, or a slight tinge of a memory (was it the smell?) that this "weed" was an Angel's Trumpet Flower, or some close relative.

So, I left it alone -- after all, I've learned that if you aren't sure what a plant is, leave it alone until you do or you'll pull out something that you were sure you couldn't live without last year, but completely forgot you had planted.

Better safe than sorry.

My photos here are of the Angel's Trumpet or Devil's Trumpet (I haven't yet completely decided for sure which it is) growing smack dab in the middle of a path in my veggie garden today ...

Angels Trumpet VS Devils Trumpet Flower

The plant is about 2 1/2 feet tall, has long, dark green leaves, burgundy-purple stems, and long white flowers with purple inside.

Angel's Trumpet Flower vs Devil

And, the plant is making lots of spiky, seed pods.

Brugmansia vs Datura

I can't really decide if the flowers are pointing up or down ...

In the photo above, the flowers are pointing up. But there are others that are sort of going out horizontally (not really up or down) and some that point down a little. Overall, I think they are pointing up.

Why does that matter, you ask?

There really are both Angel's Trumpet and Devil's Trumpet plants and one of the ways to tell the difference is by the direction the flowers are pointing. Angel's Trumpet plants (or Brugmansia) have flowers that point down. Devil's Trumpet plants (or Datura) have flowers that point up. You know, the Angel's Trumpets are as if an angel in heaven is tooting on the flower down to us below (the flowers point down), and the Devil's Trumpet is like the devil is tooting up to us (the flowers point up).

Interesting stuff, huh? Wonder just who came up with that?

Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet) vs Datura (Devil's Trumpet)

According to the International Brugmansia and Datura Society (yes, there IS such a thing!) there are differences between the plants other than which direction their flowers point: "Brugmansia are woody perennials, growing to form shrubs or small trees.  Datura are herbaceous annuals or short-lived perennials, not forming woody growth."

I think I've got a Devil's Trumpet Flower here. And, if that's the case, it probably won't make it through the winter.

But, my question is: should I dig it up and move it to see (it's right in the middle of a garden path now)? I like the flowers and if it's growing outside where I don't brush against it or don't have to touch it or re-pot it, I won't have to worry about the smell. I'm in zone 7b/8a (leaning more toward 8a).

What do you think?

Wild Angels Trumpet Flower

Oct 09 2013
Posted in: Flowers

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October 9, 2013

I never knew there was a Devil's Trumpet Flower!


August 5, 2016


October 11, 2013

You know, I used to have dozens of plants inside, and then, somehow, I started killing them all off. Sadness.

With the solarium in my house here, it is easier for me to winter my giant spotted begonia, as I have for about a dozen years now. Last year, I also wintered my scraggly jade that now has a second branch (after about six years) and I wintered another succulent that I wasn't sure could make it outside. This year, I did indulge in a small string of pearls plant, so I will probably put it inside. Actually, I have two, because a small branch broke off and I rooted it in a miniature pot.

I have been trying to figure out a way to make a small stand, so the three little pots could be in front of the windows instead of just on the floor. However, since it is the least chosen bedroom when folk visit, it does not really matter if the plants are on the floor. With windows on three sides, they are happy there in the winter.


October 11, 2013

What about digging it up, potting it, wintering it, and putting it out next year in a better location? Then ... seeing if it gets a little more established and survives the winter. I was wondering, though, where is the photo of a tree frog on the trumpet vine????????


October 11, 2013

Honestly Myrtle, I have no room inside my house for any more plants and I'm just not sure this one is worth the trouble. (I need a greenhouse!) I think I'll probably just leave it and if I remember it again in the spring, see if it comes back.

No frogs on the vine.... it's been raining here for the last week, so I haven't been on frog patrol! :-)

Theodora Anne Merry Parsnick
Horticultural Zone: 7
June 6, 2014

Whoa! I do believe that this is what is know as Jimson Weed! an extremely poisonous plant with an intoxicating fragrant absolutely seductive flower which points sideways to up. We had some volunteer in our garden and left it because it was so beautiful. I accidentally scratched myself on a bit of a stem when we did remove it and had a sweltering oozing sore for weeks. I still carry its scar. I read that the Jamestown settlers poisoned themselves trying to eat it. Please be careful!!!!!!!!!!!!


October 28, 2015

Yes, this is Jimson weed, also known as devils trumpet, thorn apple etc. But scientific name is Datura . It comes in different varieties and all are poisonous as are their cousin brugmansia or Angels trumpet.

September 24, 2015

In Australia the Angel trumpet is common but is known as Datura, I had no idea there was another one, thanks for the clarification.


August 5, 2016

Where can I find these beautiful plant seeds?


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