Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
Many will recognize the beautiful white trumpet-shaped flowers of Datura but I bet few of us in North America realize we are using a well traveled name derived from the plant’s original Hindi name धतूरा dhatūra.
The species, Datura wrightii, found in the southwest United States is often referred to as Sacred Datura or Western Jimsonweed. A closely related species, Datura stramonium, commonly known in as Jimsonweed, thornapple or Datura, is native to much of the rest of North and South America. but spread, with the help of birds, to the Old World very early and now grows wild in all the world’s warm and moderate regions.
Datura was scientifically described and named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus way back in 1753, although it had been previously described by botanists a century earlier. The genus name chosen by Linneas of “Datura“ is derived not from Latin, but rather from the plant's Hindi name धतूरा dhatūra, and ultimately from the earlier Sanskrit धत्तूर dhattūra or white thornapple.
So in the Mojave Desert of western United states when we call a plant Datura we are using an name pulled from an ancient term used in India. It is such a small world isn't it?
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
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