San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fragrant and trippy: Queen of the Night

Here’s an ornamental that rates high as an exotic beauty queen, as well as an eco-garden plant for the tropical home garden. In Costa Rica, she is known as Reina de la Noche or Queen of the Night. She’s also called as Angel’s Trumpet. The bush-like, woody-stemmed plant is easy to find, easy to propagate, and most of all, very exotic.

Ed Bernhardt

Ed Bernhardt

Her nine-inch, trumpet-like flowers emit one of nature’s most fragrant scents during the evening hours. Planting Queen of the Night around the home scents the air at dusk with a relaxing aroma that helps to lift the spirit and emotions. You can also place one flower in the bedroom, while you sleep, for a wonderful aromatherapy treatment.  

Queen of the Night comes in pure white (Datura arborea) or with pastel rose and yellow tints (D. sanguinea). Most leading nurseries carry them, or you can beg an “hijo” from a neighbor. These plants are easily propagated by stem cuttings planted directly in permanent sites or started in plastic nursery bags.  Although Queen of the Night is a hardy plant that requires little attention, it thrives in moist, fertile soils.

You can fertilize your plants with annual applications of compost and foliar spray, as well as pruning it in the summer to keep them compact and bushy. Queen of the Night requires minimal watering in the dry season, which makes it ideal for an eco-garden, and there are no significant pests or diseases.  

There is also mysterious folklore that surrounds Queen of the Night. The leaves and flowers have been used by indigenous tribes of the Neotropics as a narcotic, hallucinogenic experience, which Richard Evans Schultes and Robert Raffauf describe in their book, “The Healing Forest – Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazon” as “a loss of senses, visual disturbances, drying of the throat and mouth, visions (sometimes of a frightening character) and occasionally violent reactions requiring restraint.” Personally, I’d suggest you stick to the use of the flowers for aromatherapy and skip what could be a potentially bad trip.  

So, find your Queen of the Night, and let her work her charms on you.  

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