Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Datura -- Moonflowers

"Datura Explosion"  (Datura stramonium), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine (flowers that open or bloom in the evening) flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. They are known as Angel's Trumpets sharing that name with the closely related genus Brugmansia. Another name that Datura shares is the name of Moonflowers referring to the fact that they bloom at night.  The particular member of this genus, however, that I will be describing below is Datura stramonium.

"Angel Trumpet and Butterfly", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
 You may recall this drawing (on your right)) which I did a few years ago of an Angel Trumpet (Brugmansia) flower.  As you can see,  the shape of the flower is similar to the unopened "trumpets" above, but the difference is immediately obvious:  Datura flowers grow up (erect) while Angel Trumpets flowers grown down (pendulous).

Datura belongs to the classic "witches' weeds," along with deadly nightshade, henbane, and mandrake. Most parts of the plants contain toxic hallucinogens, and Datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death. It was well known as an essential ingredient of love potions and witches' brews.

The genus name, Datura, is derived from dhatura, an ancient Hindu word for a plant. Stramonium is originally from Greek, strychnos στρύχνος "nightshade" and maniakos μανιακός "mad".
For centuries, Datura has been used as a herbal medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bone-setting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen and deliriant, which is used spiritually for the intense visions it produces. However, the tropane alkaloids which are responsible for both the medicinal and hallucinogenic properties are fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage, and careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths.  As well, Datura can be used to assist in the process of breaking drug addictions, by reducing the symptoms of delirium tremens and morphine withdrawals. Other medicinal uses for Datura include providing relief from sore throat or toothache. Personally, I am not sure I would want to risk the danger of overdosing or hallucinating just to try to relieve a sore throat!



Here are two recent photos of sweet Braden showing him continuing to discover new things in the world around him.  These early months and years are a time when a child's brain soaks up new information as quickly as a dry sponge soaks up water -- a time when they learn so many things so quickly.  Yet, most of us do not remember these years at all -- other than an occasional scene or image.  I wonder why?

Braden puzzling over his toy!

Braden with his Dad on St. Patrick's Day -- Notice his "way cool" Green Eggs and Ham T-shirt!
And how about those nice green socks!!



Suki sitting in the shower.  I don't know why she likes it in there since she,
 like most house cats, intensely dislikes water (except in her water dish) !
 Well, things have been fairly quiet around our place since the broken vase episode.  Suki has been unusually well behaved for the past few days so I cannot complain about her behaviour.  In fact, she has even allowed me to sleep until 6 a.m. a couple of times recently!

Suki says "hi" to all her fans and promises that she will try to do something interesting before this coming Sunday's posting!

Actually, yesterday I would really have liked for her to have awakened me at what she considers one of her normal feeding times:  3:30 a.m.!  Fortunately, I was able to awaken on my own around that time as I wanted to witness Pope Francis' Inaugural Mass.

Did any of you watch it as well?  I found it to be quite beautiful.  Sadly, I feel asleep right after the Holy Father's homily!  Typical for me, of course.  I did get to hear the homily and later was able to read the complete text of it as I now subscribe to VISnews.  That way I was able to experience Pope Francis' presentation of it as well as reading a good translation and having time to really reflect on what he felt it was important to say to the Church on that auspicious occasion.  I remain very grateful for our new Holy Father and am looking forward to seeing where he takes the Church in the days to come.

Otherwise, I continue to do much the same as I have previously reported.  The same problems continue to bother me -- sometimes a lot and sometime not so much -- but each day has its many challenges.  I will finally see the doctor at the sleep disorders clinic again next week.   Although the medication he put me on has been a tremendous help in enabling me to stay awake for much longer periods of time during the day, once the medication has worn off, I am right back to having sleep attacks as before.  So, we will have to work on adjusting the dosage, I presume.

As for my poor eyebrows, they have simply disappeared into the scars created by my most recent surgery.  Sadly, they are showing no signs of reappearing.  Sometimes when I forget and glance at myself in a mirror, I get this feeling that I am actually disappearing -- maybe I will eventually become like the invisible man and simply disappear entirely!!  Yikes.

That's enough rambling for now.

It is difficult to believe that Lent is almost over for another year.  My favourite season of the Church year and it will be finished next week, Holy Week.  All those powerful days to pass through next week where we experience in our hearts and minds the Passion of our Lord Jesus.

May the days between now and Palm (or Passion) Sunday be days filled with the peace of God for us all.

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