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The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection

Brugmansia sp



Brugmansia sp
Possibly Brugmansia candida
The Angel Trumpet Tree
"Our Vanda Tree"
Brugmansia trees are one of the most feared "magical plants" used by the mystical Andean and Amazonian shaman (medicine men).  It is also a treasured plant of many plant collectors.  Once you see a Brugmansia in full bloom you will understand why.  It's "Angel Trumpet" pendent flowers are filled with perfume.  They only last a few days, but when they are in bloom the show is one any plant enthusiast enjoys. 

Although ours sometimes produces yellow blooms, they may also be closer to white.  You can just as easily find trees with pure white, pink and a variety of other colors among the tree's six to seven species and color varieties.  And the fragrance is a strong "narcotic" all by itself completely engulfing our atrium once the tree blooms. 

An easy to grow tree common all along the eastern slopes of the vast Andes Mountains that stretch almost the length of the South American continent,  the tree is is filled with color and mystery.  The medicine men of the tribes of the Amazon that still inhabit the Andes use the plant's flowers as an hallucinogenic drug.   As a result, some Florida communities have attempted to outlaw growing the species.  The "Angel Trumpet" produces a bloom almost a foot long that hangs down like a trumpet being blown by and angel.  Thus, the plant's common name.  Our flowers range from white to very pale to a medium yellow.  (see inset photo of one of our yellow Brugmansia blooms).

But  our Brugmansia serves another useful purpose.  We call it our "Vanda Tree".  As far as I know, there is no such tree that actually grows orchid flowers.  There is one that is called an "orchid tree" but it is not truly an orchid.  Orchids do however grow in trees.  Most orchids grow as epiphytes (ep-a-FIT) on the trunks and limbs of rain forest trees.  But the long lived sprays of vandas up in a tree are stunning.  We don't have a lot of trees in the Exotic Rainforest large enough to be home to vandas in the way they actually grow in the wild.  So we used what we had, a yellow Brugmansia sp. which scientifically is Brugmansia candida (we think).  The tree is quite a sight when the vandas bloom, normally in the Spring and Summer, especially if the trumpets are in bloom at the same time.  

Brugmansia trees are named after Sebald Justin Brugmans who lived from 1763-1819.  Brugmans once had a garden of these trees.  However, since he grew these tropical plants in Germany I have absolutely no idea how he kept them alive.  From time to time I do hear of people on the northwest Canadian coastline who also grow the species so it is apparently somewhat cold tolerant. 

Our vandas were added with the aid of Liquid Nails glue and "tie wraps".  Once the vanda orchid begins to actually attach itself to the tree (in most cases) the tie wrap is removed.  Long root systems (some now 36 inches or 90cm long) have begun to grow from each of the plants attached to the limbs of the "vanda tree" and produce a spectacular show of color as they bloom.