Moonflower vs Moonflower Vine

Some time back, I posted a short article on how confusing some common flower names can be. The editors titled the article 'Avoiding Confusion with Common Flower Names'. My point was, sometimes one flower may have several common names and if this is the case, using the botanical name would rule out confusion. Here is an excerpt from that article:

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"There are probably ten different flowers for which people use the common name 'Angel Trumpet', including 'Datura', 'Brugmansia' and several lilies including 'Crinum'. When they say 'Angel' or 'Devil Trumpet', I never know which flower they mean. In this case, I think it's best to call Datura by it's botanical name, Datura".

A lot of times, using the botanical name rules out any confusion. I think it's at these times, you should learn and use the botanical name, particularly if it's easy to pronounce.

Well, it seems my tip was a good one, after all. Some time after I posted my tip, ThriftyFun posted a guide titled 'Growing Moonflowers'. The article was accompanied by a picture of a white flower. That white flower has the botanical name 'Datura stramonium'. It is probably the most common variety of Datura, as there are many.

This description of the article was placed along side the picture:

'Add some night interest and a lovely fragrance to your garden with the beautiful moonflower which opens just before dusk. This is a guide about growing moonflowers'.

(I hope to make several corrections about flower names, here. My first is: The pictured flower 'Datura stramonium' does not have a "lovely fragrance". The slight scent it does have is rather unpleasant. The flower does not open just at dusk. It may open anytime, day or night).

The Datura has several common names. It is often called 'Angel Trumpet' or Devil's Trumpet'. Other common names are 'Jimson Weed' and 'Loco Weed'. It was only after rereading this article and researching that I discovered the Datura has yet another common name, that being 'Moonflower'.

When this article was composed, it had included in it, an article I had previously posted, titled 'Starting Moonflower Vine Seed'. A question posed was 'Are Moonflowers Toxic to Animals'? 'Best Answer': Moonflowers are extremely toxic to all animals.

I found a very short video on YouTube about 'getting high' with Moonflower seed. The opening and closing pictures were of Moonflower vine seed. All pictures in between were of the seed or seed pod of Moonflower (Datura).

(If you are thoroughly confused by now, you are not alone. So was the author of that video and the editors at ThriftyFun (Bless their hearts), as well as a lot of other people who write articles about these two plants).

My second correction is actually a set of corrections:

Datura, also called Angel Trumpet, Devil's Trumpet, Jimson Weed, and Moonflower does not open just at dusk. It has an unpleasant scent. Though not usually considered deadly, it is poisonous and contains hallucinogenic properties. Cattle have been known to 'go crazy' after ingesting Datura. That's how it came by another common name, Loco Weed.

On the other hand, Ipomoea alba, the Moonflower Vine also commonly called Angel Trumpet, Devil's Trumpet, etc. does open late evening. It's perfume is so pleasant, it is often planted by doorways. It is in fact related to the sweet potato and morning glory. The young leaves and the seed are eaten and prepared in several ways.

I think a lot of the confusion arose when Datura was given the common name, Moonflower.

In conclusion:

  • Datura (Moonflower) is not a vine. It is poisonous.

  • Ipomoea alba (Moonflower vine) is a vine. It is not poisonous.

So why would anyone call both these flowers by one common name, mainly Angel Trumpet? Not only is it confusing, it could be dangerous if you ate one of them.

If you grow either of these two flowers, or two others also commonly called 'Angel Trumpet', the pictures below may be of help. I still say "Sometimes, it's better to call a flower by it's botanical name, especially if that name is easy to pronounce". So, Datura is 'Datura", and Ipomoea alba is Moonflower vine.

I have also included links to pronunciation of the words Brugmansia, Crinum, and Datura. Say 'Brugmansia' ten times and you will own that word for life.

HowJSay: Crinum

HowJSay: Datura

HowJSay: Brugmansia

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Editor's Note: We have corrected our "Growing Moonflowers" guide to reflect all the different names that are used to describe moonflowers. Night blooming cereus (hylocereus) is also commonly referred to as moonflower.


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June 11, 20150 found this helpful

Your flowers are so pretty. The crinum flower here in Louisiana is called the old plantation lily. This is a very large bulb. I have given many, many bulbs away over the years. Mine are solid white and from a very old, beautiful plantation. Some of mine have 15 to 20 flowers at the top when they bloom.

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June 26, 20150 found this helpful

Hello!

There is another good reason to use the botanical names of plants that is to do not pay a lot of money for a plant which is only an annual. Datura is an annual plant with flowers facing upwards and spiny fruits.

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Brugmansia is a perrenial woody shrub that can live up to 70 years, Brugmansia's flowers face downwards and Brugmansia's fruits are not spiny, but most of all, Brugmansia is much more toxic than the Datura to humans and animals.

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July 12, 20150 found this helpful

Catherine
So many people want to call these two and other flowers, Angel Trumpet, Devil Trumpet or some other kind of trumpet. I am so glad you pointed out some of the major differences in these flowers.

Thank you.

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August 22, 20150 found this helpful

Catherine,

I never paid attention, before. It seems that Datura blooms can face upward or downward. I took these pictures early morning. Near the top of the plant, all blooms face upwards. Near the bottom, many face downward.

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June 21, 20160 found this helpful

Does this look like a moonflower to you?

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January 28, 20170 found this helpful

It looks very much like a Moonflower vine seedling.

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Anonymous
July 1, 20180 found this helpful

Angel trumpet's botanical name is Brugmansia.
Devil's trumpet is Datura.
The moonflower is not either of the above. I know this because a friend of mine has been growing brugmansia and Datura for over 30 years and I had a lady post a pick of a double datura calling it a moonflower.

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I showed the pic to my friend and he said it is not a moonflower, it's a datura like I told her it was.

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