Agouti Umbrella

In Dominica, you might just see a giant Datura Brugmansia (I was told they are sometimes called “Agouti umbrella“*), flush to the breaking point full of drooping, soft peach flowers. Chances are good that you’ll see this on several occasions, in varying locations, and always the same colour.

I saw this one on a steep mountain road in the village of Trafalgar on a climb up to visit the most amazing twin waterfalls that run hot and cold (also called Trafalgar). It was raining at the time, as it is almost always raining in the rainforest.

Long story short: we were not let in due to incredibly ridiculous local politics and posturing. I’m still very bitter about what went down and the fact that I did not get to see the falls. But the brugmansia was incredible and so was the view from the top of the hill.

* An agouti is a rodent that lives in Dominica. It kind of looks like a large guinea pig. I saw one from the back on our second last day on the island.

Turns out I messed up. My notes had datura as agouti umbrella but it’s actually a small fern called selanginella that goes by this colloquial term. Oops. Seems like it should be the datura though, doesn’t it? The little fern does not remind me of an umbrella. Brugmansia does. Go figure.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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14 thoughts on “Agouti Umbrella

  1. gorgeous! the stems are so thick & woody, amazing how plants can grow forever without winters to cut them down, In Equador I took a picture of what looked like an absurb scene, a man was trimming all the bright orange blooms off a huge hedge, my friend reassured me they’d grow right back, I also saw 15 ft? poinsettas in a church courtyard, pretty mindblowing to be dwarfed by what we think of as potted plants

  2. MrBrownThumb: Seeing plants growing in places where they can reach their full potential has changed my mind about many that I previously thought to be tacky or ugly. It has also taught me a TON about what those plants need and what they can take.

    Tess: I love gigantic poinsettias. Another example of what I just said the MrBrownThumb. They’re so much more exciting as a big bush/tree.

  3. And now I know what it’s called! On the way home from work I pass two lovely historic homes with this tree in full bloom, huge white blossoms drooping and flourishing. The tree is gorgeous amid its native foliage.

  4. How wonderful to see a Datura in such a great setting!

    The first house that Joe and I ever rented had a great Datura tree (on the small side, but taller than myself). I used to sit with the window open in the evenings where the scent would waft in. Wish I could grow one where I live now, but I don’t think it would be as happy since we get a bit of snow every year.

  5. I’ve always thought these were Brugmansia, and that Datura plants are lower growing (more shrubby) and the flowers point up. Maybe they’re more closely botanically related that I thought?

  6. Eva: You’re right.

    I always thought that they were synonyms… but it turns out that they aren’t anymore. Not sure where I got confused along the way but I’ve been referring to both with both names for years.

    Man alive, this post was a big fail all around. I got the botanical name and the Patois name confused!

    Thanks! Perhaps I will get it right now.

  7. You’re welcome. Think of it this way the picture is really awesome, and you learned something new. In my book it’s a double WIN! :)

  8. Eva: I also learned I was too cocky. I’m usually very careful about identifications but have been calling this datura for so long… it didn’t occur to me to check myself.

  9. Actuallly in the American South, those lovely plants are called Angel Trumpets and come in pink, yellow and white. They grow to be quite large if the are planted with enough space to all them to grow!.

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