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Datura inoxia ssp. quinquecuspida Datura inoxia
El Toloache, Moonflower

The Chumash people of California used this very handsome datura as part of the vision quest of adolescence. Anthropologists believe they got this plant from the Aztecs. After the participants fasted, purged themselves, and cleansed themselves with steam baths or dips in icy water, they drank a tea of the plant to open themselves to an animal spirit who taught the seeker a song or dance and who would guide the individual during the rest of life. The plant was usually used in a group for this purpose, and at first only young men engaged in this rite, but later both men and women drank datura tea on their own, often to strengthen their bond with their spirit helper, communicate with the dead, or divine the future. Sometimes imbibers died, and datura was usually used only once in life on account of its danger, but in some parts of California, people drank datura tea in rituals every spring, and in the desert, the Mohave, Yuma, and Cahuilla used datura whenever they wanted to, which makes me wonder if they prepared it in some special way. Toloacheros or datura-givers often prepared and measured the amount of plant used, since the difference between a spiritually useful and a deadly dose is small. Associated with the Air aspect of Venus, this plant is called "la yerba del diablo" in Castaneda's writings, and in Navajo religion this plant is emblematic of Changing Woman, a goddess who can take the form of a maiden, a mature woman, or a crone (like the three phases of the moon, waxing, full, and waning). Interestingly enough, this plant is also known as moonflower. A way to work relatively safely with this poisonous plant is to smell the flowers before going to bed. This stunning plant produces very large dark yellowish or purple buds that eventually unfold into large white flowers. The lavender variety has especially large flowers, some easily as wide as my hand is long, with pale lavender edges. They have an intensely sweet scent that is released towards sunset and only stay open for one day. Spiny pods can have tinges of purple in the lavender variety.Top

Toloache in the Garden

This annual or tender perennial (will regrow from roots without protection in zones 8, 9, 10--Deep South and Pacific Northwest) can get 3ft/90cm high, the leaves can be 10"/25cm long, and the flowers, which are white in the subspecies inoxia and can have pinkish or lavender tints in the subspecies quinquecuspida, can get 8"/20cm long. The buds are very large and thick and seem to me to be the reason for the masculine gender of this plant's name. Buds are green in ssp. inoxia and purple in ssp. quinquecuspida. This plant is native to the US & Mexico. While the leaves of this coarse, weedy plant are not good smelling (the usual term applied is "rank," but to me they smell like peanut butter), the flowers give off a very sweet, freesia-like scent at night. Blooms open at night and typically remain open through noon the next day. Extremely drought tolerant. This datura germinates in 10-14 days at room temperature, although I often use bottom warmth with the paper towel method for all daturas except stramonium (wet paper towel, wring out, sow seeds in towel, fold, put into open baggie, lay on heating pad set on medium to germinate usually within 3-4 days, then carefully put roots into potting soil, holding the critter by the seed end, not the root). Space 24-36"/60-90cm apart. It will bloom about three months after being sown, and likes a good, rich soil. Unlike other daturas, this one produces a rhizome that can be lifted in the fall once the leaves die back and the daytime temperatures start being in the 40sF/4-10C. You can save it like a dahlia tuber, storing in a cool dark area and replanting it in the spring. Up to zone 4-5, if they are in a warm spot next to a wall or on the south side of the house, you can mulch them and leave them in the ground for winter. More about datura here Top

Choose from two varieties:

Datura inoxia ssp. inoxia
White Toloache
20 seeds $4.25

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Datura inoxia ssp. quinquecuspida
Lavender Toloache
20 seeds $4.25

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In the
Moongarden Collection

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Spiritual Guidance

2006, 2021 Harold A. Roth, Anthony Teth; No reproduction without permission