Datura metel ‘Fastuosa’ | ‘Black Datura’, ‘Devil’s Trumpet’ | 25 seeds
Datura metel ‘Fastuosa’ is the so-called ‘Black Datura’, a popular ornamental cultivar featuring an ebony-coloured stem and flowers with corollas with deep, purple-black exteriors and white-whitish interiors. Often to be found gracing residential garden collections, Fastuosa is also known by names such as ‘Blackcurrant Swirl’, ‘Cornucopia’, ‘Double Blackcurrant Swirl’, ‘Double Purple’, and ‘Purple Hindu’.
Besides being a much-loved ornamental plant, Datura metel is primarily cultivated commercially as as source of raw materials for use in essential medicines. It’s also one of fifty herbs fundamental to traditional Chinese medicine. However, it should be made extremely clear that all parts of this species (and, in fact, many other plants of the genus Datura) contain potentially fatal levels of extremely poisonous alkaloids, so must not be grown within close proximity of children or animals, etc!
Datura metel as a species is an annual flowering herbaceous shrub which grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10, where it is commonly called by names including ‘Devil’s Trumpet’, ‘Metel’ and ‘Yáng Jīn Huā’. Growing erect to roughly a metre or so tall, metel’s dark violet-coloured, hollow stems and oval-ish leaves (often the same colour) are faintly fuzzy. Its sweet-smelling blooms can be highly varied in colour and general appearance, but are usually approximately fifteen to twenty centimetres in diameter. These are followed by vaguely spiny seed pods.
It’s quite easy to grow this plant from seed (although they do benefit from scarification and/or a twenty-four hour soak prior to germination). Sow into a tray filled with compost or vermiculite, cover with a light (but non-light-blocking) layer of the same. Place the container somewhere warm (a miminum temperature of roughly 25°C should suffice) and keep the seeds moist but not wet, checking daily for signs of germination (anywhere from three to eight weeks from initiation). Once sprouted, transplant the seedlings root-deep to larger containers filled with moist potting soil and then move them to indirect light. When the young plants have developed their second or first set of true leaves (ignore the cotyledons which appear initially), move them outdoors to larger containers or the ground, in well-drained soil in full sun.
Treat her with respect and Datura metel ‘Fastuosa’ can be an amazingly rewarding addition to any garden – just don’t let her play with children or animals!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced