Saturday, October 11, 2014

Devil's Trumpet & Black Racer

Devil's trumpet, Datura metel var. Blackcurrant

What a glorious thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning! I have been waiting for its blooms since the seed was sown in April of this year. This is the first to open, but there are several buds on what has become a small shrub. This plant, Datura, is often confused with Brugmansia, the Angel's trumpet, which is closely related. In fact, members of the genus Brugmansia were once included in the genus Datura. The main differences: the flowers of Devil's trumpet point upward, whereas Angel's trumpets are pendulous and point downward (hence their names); Devil's trumpet has herbaceous blackish-colored stems and is a short-lived perennial, whereas Angel's trumpet has a woody stem and is hardier and longer lived. I have a Brugmansia in the Dirt Patch as well, but alas, it is not as happy as the Datura. I think it gets too much sun.

I was being closely watched as I photographed the gorgeous Datura...

 The black racer (Coluber constrictor) visible to the right of the trumpet lives in the siding of my house and I consider him a most welcome neighbor, though the feeling is not mutual.

My friend did not appreciate his portrait being taken and reared his head and neck back in an 'S' curve - that's Snake for "you are totally pissing me off and I will totally bite you." He flicked his tail in a rapid vibration evoking his more dangerous cousin, the rattlesnake (something Colubrids are wont to do when feeling threatened). I backed off and he slithered away into the palmettos. Black racers are non-venomous and completely harmless. For those not sympathetic to snakes, I will drop my anthropomorphism for a moment and hope you will see this encounter from the snake's was terrified of the giant lumbering creature that intruded upon its quiet morning bask and so threatened to defend itself with the only weapon it has, its teeth. What it wanted to do most was get away.

Ah, lovely Datura...alas, no fragrance!

On a parting note, the black racer may not have any venom, but this plant is extremely poisonous! 

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