Brugmansia is a genus of six species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil. They are known as Angel's Trumpets, incorrectly sharing that name in the past with the closely related genus Datura, commonly known as "Thorn Apple". The genus differs from Datura in being perennial and woody (Datura species are herbaceous), and in having pendulous (not erect) flowers.
The leaves are alternate, generally large, 10–30 cm long and 4–18 cm broad, with an entire or coarsely toothed margin, and are covered with fine hairs.
The name Angel's Trumpet refers to the large, very dramatic, pendulous trumpet-shaped flowers, 14–50 cm to 20 inches long and 10–35 cm across at the wide end. They are white, yellow, pink, orange or red, and have a delicate, attractive scent with light, lemony overtones, most noticeable in early evening.
Several hybrids and numerous cultivars have been developed for use as ornamental plants. B. × candida is a hybrid between B. aurea and B. versicolor, while B. × insignis is a hybrid between B. suaveolens and B. versicolor. Some cultivars of B. × candida produce white, yellow, pale orange or pink flowers; B. × insignis produces white or peach flowers; B. versicolor flowers start off white and turn salmon pink. There are cultivars producing double flowers, and some with variegated leaves.
Ritualized Brugmansia consumption is an important aspect of the shamanic complexes noted among many Indigenous peoples of western Amazonia, such as the Jivaroan speaking peoples. Likewise, it is a central component in the cosmology and shamanic practices of the Urarina peoples of Loreto, Peru.
One member of the party reached his home 24 hours later in a dazed and agitated condition. His parents, concerned for the safety of the second son who was still missing, called the police. The police described the boy who had returned as disoriented, perspiring profusely with dilated pupils and obviously terrified. When asked of the still missing brother he said, "They have shot W –, he's over the bank". Later, when recovered, he described his fear and how he imagined he was being chased by trees and people, armed with guns and spears. These hallucinations had continued even after he had reached home and were still present the next day.
Another member of the party was found that same evening, some 150 meters from the site, standing in a dry creek bed, leaning against and embracing a eucalyptus tree and apparently talking to it. When challenged he gave an unresponsive stare, but when asked about the missing brother, said, "There's W –, he's over there", pointing to his own coat lying on the ground. Other members of the group, except the missing brother, returned to their own homes that same evening, 24 hours after the flowers had been taken.
The police found the body of the missing brother, a man of 20, the next morning. He was lying in water 30 centimeters deep, face upwards, so that the face was only just covered by water. Post-mortem examination of the body showed irregularly dilated pupils and changes in the lungs consistent with drowning. Vegetable material from the flowers and stems of Brugmansia were recovered from the stomach. Analysis of liver, bile, stomach contents, blood and urine showed no other drugs. Death was thought to have occurred at least one day prior to the recovery of the body, that is, during the night the flowers were eaten.
Staff from the National Herbarium of Victoria and Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, identified the plant from which the flowers were picked as Brugmansia arborea. Brugmansia ingestion and poisoning is rare in Australia, perhaps because of the terrifying rather than pleasurable hallucinogenic effect. The alkaloids may also produce a feeling of intense heat, which would explain why the deceased sought solace in the water and another discarded his coat.