Emergence: Poem to a Plant Goddess by Sara Wright


Her name is Datura.

Delicate fluted deep-throated trumpets open to

humming honey bees and summer rains.

She communicates through scent.


 In the fall I collect her sharp-needled pods.

They rattle like dry bones.

I chill them.

In the spring I coax seeds to sprout

wrapping each in papery white cloth,

sing love songs  –  siren calls

to rouse each root from winter’s sleep.


I am patient…

 a woman in waiting for the heat of the sun

to unfurl the mystery of becoming

 that is re-acted in spring.


Only seeds know when to swell and burst.

 Wooly hairs branch out from a single root.

Curling themselves into screw like shapes,

They leave it to me to untangle head from foot!


 I hear the Old Ones call her Sacred

West wind whips red sand into my face,

 as I place each sprout in well dampened soil.


Within a week green wings unfold

– twin leafed plantlets

lean into the fierce light of a golden eye.


 Each seedling seeks its own form.

 DNA meets the pattern of becoming

held by cosmic forces in a spiral round.


I imagine a bush of sensuous pearl white trumpets – lacey lavender tipped edges unfurling at dusk.

Datura communes with the Hawk moth under a blossoming moon.


An ancient plant with unknown origins

 Datura bridges continents,

 passed on by Indigenous story and feet.

A Muse full of secrets

she is known by those

(who have been initiated into her ways)

as “Grandmother,” whose poison is deadly.

She is also a visionary and healer.


She comes to some through dreams.


The un- initiated fear her.


 They call her devil, thorn apple,

 witches wildflower, in woeful ignorance

of the breadth of her power.


“Dementia!” they sling arrows of ignorance,

accuse her as one who would kill or maim.


As well she might.

To those who would use her

without respect or care,

she mutters a warning:



Datura flowers are startling, huge, trumpet shaped – pearl white and luminous, tinted with pale to deep lavender around the edges – and in northern Mexico, intensely fragrant after rain. Last summer, like the bees that hummed around the flowers from dawn to dusk, I too couldn’t get enough of the sweet scent of literally hundreds of undulating lace edged trumpets that opened each morning or evening after a rain. These wild plants are also known as devil’s trumpet, moonflowers, devil’s weed and thorn apple.

Late last fall I collected prickly seed pods and stored them over the winter. This spring I coaxed seeds to sprout, planting them here and there, imagining a summer desert filled with clumps of fragrant blossoms.

Datura has the ability to shapeshift – literally. Depending upon growing conditions this plant can develop into a large four or five foot bush, or spread its small umbrella of pointed leaves and flowers over a dry desert wash, barely reaching twelve inches in height. The plant can change its shape as well as the amount of its toxicity which confused botanists for years!

In service to Life Datura removes lead from the soil and stores it in her roots and leaves. While the plant provides nectar for bees and other insectivores it has formed an intimate partnership (mutualism) with the Hawk moth, an insect almost as large as the human hand. Datura furnishes the moth with nectar and shelters its eggs (newly hatched larvae are served a tasty leafy meal by this mothering plant). But in return pollen is transferred from moth to flower enabling fertilization to take place. With the help of the moth, Datura can then produce fruit and seeds for another year.

Datura belongs to the classic “witches weeds” according to Wikipedia, along with deadly nightshade, henbane, mandrake, hemlock and other plants. “It was well known as an essential ingredient of potions and witches brews,” according to this academic source.

Indigenous peoples across the globe have been using this plant for millennia to seek spirit helpers through visioning. All parts of this plant are lethal and only those that are initiated through the (secret) oral traditions know how to neutralize the poison.



Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.

Categories: environment, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General, Gift of Life, land, Mother Earth, Nature

Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. These plants are certainly lovely to behold. I’m in southern New Mexico right now and see the flower you describe blooming throughout the desert. (I wondered why people called them by a wide variety of names.) Thanks for this informative and beautiful post, Sara.


  2. Beautiful! Thank you!


  3. I’ve read about Datura, but never as your beautiful poem describes the plant and its flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the plant, either, but I love the image of the insects sheltering in the plant, being born in her sheltering hands (so to speak), and establishing that relationship of mutual benefit.

    Thanks for writing about Datura and giving me something to think about this morning.


  4. Barbara, thank you for your kind words — if you are a gardener anywhere I can send you datura seeds that will grow into a patio plant that will bloom the first year… although I have planted many around here in the ground I am so enthralled with the fragrance of this flower that I have one on my porch too… The relationship between the plant and moth is an amazing one and characteristic of so many relationships between plants. Scientists have to distance themselves from “relationship” so they call this “mutalism” – god forbid we think of plants as having relationships with other plants or other species – and yet co evolving and relationship is a phenomena known to science…


  5. Datura grows in waste places in Lesbos, and we have the hummingbird hawk moth, which looks like a hummingbird when in flight, we don’t have hummingbirds though, so how did it get that name?


  6. It got that name because this beautiful little moth acts just like a hummingbird and can often be mistaken for one because the two love the same flowers…. these moths can also be found in areas where hummingbirds do not visit and the name is a ‘common one’ not scientific. I have one around here, and although it’s smaller I sometimes confuse the two! They act so much alike.


  7. A beautiful, wise poem – I love the way your relationship with this plant so infuses the poem and your commentary. Imagine what a different world it would be if we all had such relationships with the plants around us!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I agree – one of the reasons I write about nature is to hopefully sensitize others to the possibility of interspecies relationship and communication…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Datura floats through the moon’s pathways in my yard, too! Attended by the moths of the secret shadows, of course! As a steadfast reminder that not all or even most things intend to sacrifice themselves to those who seek to ascend to domination over everything and all, the scent of the leaves that she constructs for her own purpose is the warning. A friend told me she won’t let it grow on her land because it will poison her animals. I assured her that only humans are dumb enough to eat something that tastes like that. “oh,” she said. As if sentience was also denied to the “domesticated animals” along with their freedom. “Breathe deep,” I told her, “it smells like kicking down the fence.”

    Liked by 1 person

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