Datura or Brugmansia, Trumpets of discord

Brugmansia and Datura look alike, but they are actually different plants. Here are a few tricks to tell them apart.

Both are called “trumpets” in common language.

  • Brugmansia – “Angel’s trumpets” – are always showering blessings from above
  • whereas Datura – “Devil’s trumpets” – always want to catch these gifts for themselves!

Difference between Brugmansia and Datura

There are quite a few ways to tell Brugmansia and Datura apart. Here they are summarized in a short table:

Part of the plantBrugmansiaDatura
FlowerDangling, hangs down from aboveUpright, stands up from below
Flower colorWhite, peach, yellowWhite, purple
BearingShrub growing to a small treeLow-lying, rarely exceeds a yard in height (1 m)
Stem or TrunkTurns woody and thickensStays green and dies back
Seed podSmooth with pointed tips,
shaped like bean pods
Roundish with spikes on the husk,
like a chestnut
Seed podFuzz on the skin of the podNo hairs or fuzz, slick skin
Seed spreadingPod slits open, decays,
seeds fall off
Pod bursts open,
seeds propelled to a distance

Similarity between Datura and Brugmansia

Both Datura and Brugmansia belong to the same family, the Solanaceae family. They share certain attributes in common.

  • Fragrance – both Datura and Brugmansia release a strong, heady fragrance that is delightful. In confined areas it can even become overpowering.
  • Flower – Trumpet shaped! Bugles grown for the armies of angels and demons alike!
  • Leafage – leaves are typically shaped like those of other solanaceae plants. Leaves have wavy edges for most varieties. For example, they’re similar to leaves from eggplant and potato.
  • Toxicity – both Brugmansia  and Datura are toxic from root to tip. Avoid growing if your pets tend to nibble anything within reach.

Note: if your toddler or child has eaten brugmansia or datura plant parts, get in touch with emergency or poison services in your area immediately.

Datura seeds and dried, open pod on an outstreched hand.

Which is best – Brugmansia or Datura?

Depending on the size of your garden, you might prefer either Brugmansia and Datura.

  • Brugmansia with dangling flowers.For a large garden, Brugmansia is best

Brugmansia will grow rather large, up to several yards tall. It grows into a tree-like shrub.

You can guide it along a lattice to ensure it doesn’t fall over. This is especially relevant when growing it along a wall, where growth is imbalanced.

  • Datura flower growing upright.For a small garden, or for growing in pots, Datura is more suitable

Datura stays rather small, and tends to send new branches out from the base when older ones die off.

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Unfurling yellow Brugmansia or Datura by titanium22 under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Datura pod and seeds by Gregory under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Brugmansia bush by Riala under Pixabay license
Flowering datura by Bishnu Sarangi under Pixabay license