Culebra Brugmansia Plant

Overview

Brugmansia aurea Culebra is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, related to peppers, corn and tomatoes. It is a tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall and is native to the area around a village called Sibundoy in a mountainous region of Colombia. The plants are characterized by 8-inch-long, downward-facing, white or golden yellow flowers, with petals narrower than those of more common brugmansias. It also has narrow leaves that range up and down the stems. As with many brugmansias, the flowers are intensely fragrant. Brugmansias are closely related to daturas, which have similar, trumpet-shaped flowers. The most notable difference between the two species is that brugmansia's flowers face downward, while datura's flowers look upward. Datura is an annual, while brugmansia is a perennial.

History

The varietal name, Culebra comes the from the indigenous Colombian Inga and Kamsa peoples and means "snake," apparently a reference to the narrow leaves. The plant was first described in 1955 by botanist R.E. Schultes and originally named Methisticodendron amesianum.

Uses

Shamans of the Inga and Kamsa tribes used the Culebra brugmansia for ceremonial and healing applications. According to Rich Sanders of the University of Connecticut, the shamans grew the trees close to their dwellings and entrusted information about the plants only to chosen successors.The seeds and leaves may be used to make beverages that produce hallucinations, according to author Thomas Nordegren in his "The A-Z Encyclopedia of Drug Abuse."

Names

Brugmansias are sometimes known as angel's trumpets due to the trumpet-shaped blossoms. The "aurea" portion of the Culebra brugmansia's species name comes from the Latin word for gold and probably refers to the golden color of some aurea flowers.

Care and Culture

The aurea species has the most robust flowers of the brugmansias. The trees can be grown outdoors in climates that do not have cold winters. Plant on the east side, rather than the sunny south side, of a dwelling and feed regularly with a fertilizer with an NPK ration of 20-20-20. Because Brugmansia aurea Culebra is a tree that can reach over 20 feet in height, it is hard to grow in cold winter climates because of the physical difficulty of moving the plant to a partially lighted indoor space where it should overwinter at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees F.

Considerations

The Culebra brugmansia is poisonous, as are all brugmansias. the plant parts contain tropane alkaloids, with the seeds being the most toxic. Wear gloves when handling any brugmansia. Keep children away from the plants.

Keywords: Brugmansia aurea Culebra, Brugmansia aurea facts, Brugmansia Culebra facts

About this Author

Elisabeth Ginsburg, a writer with twenty years' experience, earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and has done advanced study in horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Her work has been published in the "New York Times," "Christian Science Monitor," "Horticulture Magazine" and other national and regional publications.