Flowers and Light: Datura

The datura bush in my front yard is blooming now. Flowering is not new to this plant: as a tender perennial, it regrew from roots that did not freeze last winter and in early summer sported a few blossoms to celebrate being alive again. Since then, it has become a gargantuan, spreading mass, taking over its end of the flower bed and swallowing the sidewalk to my front door. A homeowner more hospitable than I would have cut the bush back to clear the path, but once I saw the hundred or so buds poking through the broad green leaves, I chose Beauty over neighborliness. For just a few days this week, I get to host a flower show’s profusion of large, trumpet-shaped white flowers. They bloom at night and glow in the indirect light of early morning, before wilting and dying under the afternoon sun. The next morning’s bloom presents an entirely new set of fresh flowers.

The bright light of midday bleaches the flowers of color: they appear simply white. Photographing them in the early morning, before direct sun touches them, reveals pale hints of lavendar at the fringe and pointy tips of the trumpets’ edges.  At this time of day, the flowers behave like stained glass, painting the light that bounces around them and passes through them with prismatic color. Photo editing can exaggerate this effect.

datura-vibrant-web

Boosting vibrance and saturation pulls more pink and blue out of the white flower. Manipulating image highlights reveals texture and cellular structure in the soft, fragile trumpet. When I produce photos that make these blooms glow with an eerie light, I find a new perspective on the flower known as “sacred datura.” See more at my Sacred Datura Gallery.