Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Brugmansia suaveolens
(white angel's trumpet)



Brugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet)


  • Last modified
  • 19 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Brugmansia suaveolens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • white angel's trumpet
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Brugmansia suaveolens is a shrub or small tree native to South America, and widely introduced as an ornamental for its attractive trumpet-shaped flowers. It is also considered an invasive weed, having escaped f...

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Brugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet); habit, cultivated. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA. February, 2012.
CaptionBrugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet); habit, cultivated. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA. February, 2012.
Copyright©Scott Zona-2012 - CC BY 2.0
Brugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet); habit, cultivated. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA. February, 2012.
HabitBrugmansia suaveolens (white angel's trumpet); habit, cultivated. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA. February, 2012.©Scott Zona-2012 - CC BY 2.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Brugmansia suaveolens (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) Bercht. & J. Presl

Preferred Common Name

  • white angel's trumpet

Other Scientific Names

  • Brugmansia albidoflava (Lem.) Verschaff. ex Bosse
  • Datura albidoflava Lem.
  • Datura arborea Mart.
  • Datura gardneri Hook.
  • Datura suaveolens Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
  • Pseudodatura suaveolens Zijp
  • Stramonium arboreum Moench

International Common Names

  • English: angel star; angel’s tears; angel's trumpet; night bells; trumpet flower
  • Spanish: floripondio; trompetero
  • French: stramoine en arbre; stramoine odorante

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: trombeteira; zabumba branca
  • Fiji: mbo ni wai; mbondavui; mbua ni wai; ndavui; uvuuvu
  • Germany: duftende Engelstrompete
  • India: dhatura
  • Peru: chuchupanda; xupu
  • Uganda: mududu

Summary of Invasiveness

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Brugmansia suaveolens is a shrub or small tree native to South America, and widely introduced as an ornamental for its attractive trumpet-shaped flowers. It is also considered an invasive weed, having escaped from cultivation, especially in the Pacific but occasionally elsewhere. In parts of eastern Australia it blocks waterways by forming extensive colonies through vegetative reproduction. It should also be monitored in other countries where present, especially in Africa and Asia. Like close relatives in the genus Datura, Brugmansia species contain alkaloids which are used as narcotics and are responsible for cases of accidental poisoning.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Solanaceae
  •                             Genus: Brugmansia
  •                                 Species: Brugmansia suaveolens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The monophyly of the Daturae clade was confirmed with two genera, Datura containing herbaceous species and Brugmansia with woody species (Lockwood, 1973b; Bye and Sosa, 2013). Brugmansia contains only seven species, all South American natives and several with overlapping native ranges. Besides plant habit, longevity and other morphological characters, species of the two genera can also be separated by analysis of specific alkaloid contents and microscopic leaf characteristics.

Brugmansia species are divided into two groups, section Brugmansia including B. insignis, B. sauveolens and B. versicolor, and section Sphaerocarpium with B. arborea, B. sanguinea and B. vulcanicola (Lockwood, 1973a; Shaw, 1999, Hay et al., 2012).

Brugmansia suaveolens was first discovered by Humboldt and Bonpland in the course of their 1799-1804 expedition to Latin America, but was only formally described and published by Willdenow in 1809 (as Datura suaveolens). The species was transferred to Brugmansia suaveolens by Von Berchtold and Presl in 1823 (Preissel and Preissel, 2002).

Many artificial hybrids involving species of Datura and Brugmansia have been reported, mostly for improved ornamental value, and some of these include B. suaveolens as one of the parents (Xiqués et al., 1992), with a very common one being Brugmansia x candida. The likelihood that natural hybrids occur in the wild where the native ranges of Brugmansia species overlap (and also where Datura species are present) cannot be discounted, and may add to genetic variability within these genera.

Many common names are applied and misapplied in English. Besides Brugmansia, several species of Datura are also known as angel’s trumpet, referring to the distinctive flowers, though Datura species are more usually known as thorn apples. B. suaveolens is sometimes called white angel’s trumpet, flower colour differentiating it from other Brugmansia species such as yellow (or golden) angel’s trumpet (B.aurea Lagerh.), red angel’s trumpet (B.sanguinea (Ruiz & Pav.) D. Don) and peach angel’s trumpet (B.versicolor Lagerh.), though B.arborea (L.) Steud. is known simply as angel’s trumpet without colour specification (USDA-ARS, 2015). However, similar flower colours are also described for different species, some being selected specifically as such for ornamental purposes, and so this trait is no guarantee of accurate identification. In addition to the abovementioned species, the Plant List (2013) also includes B.longifolia Lagerh. and B.pittieri (Saff.) Moldenke (as the preferred synonym for B. aurea).

Several hybrids with other Brugmansia species, such as B. x candida, are treated as separate taxa by various authorities, e.g. the Plant List (2015), USDA-ARS (2015) and Missouri Botanical Garden (2015). B. candida is also referred to as a separate species (Haegi, 1976) and other hybrids are given both specific and hybrid levels, e.g. B. pittieri and B. x pittieri.

Due to the taxonomic and nomenclatural confusion present within Brugmansia, a full taxonomic revision of the genus was undertaken and published by Hay et al. in 2012.


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B. suaveolens is a semi-woody shrub or small tree, growing to 3 m tall, or to 4.5 m or taller under optimal conditions, and usually with a many-branched single trunk. Leaves alternate, with an entire or coarsely toothed margin, oval, pointed, 10-30 cm long and 5-15 cm wide, becoming even larger when plants are grown in the shade. The flowers are 20-35 cm long and trumpet-shaped, showy and sweetly fragrant, borne singly in the upper leaf forks on stalks 2-3 cm long. They are pendulous, hanging almost straight down, and have a large green tube (8-12 cm long) at the base that is made from the fused sepals (i.e., a calyx tube). This tube separates at the tip into 2-5 small lobes. The corolla is white, the tube being greenish towards the base, with five points that are slightly recurved. Although the flowers of the species are white, variants with cream, yellow, orange or pink flowers have been obtained by hybridization. The fruit is a smooth, 4-valved, indehiscent, lanceolate-ellipsoid, fusiform, berry-like capsule, 9 x 3 cm. Seeds are numerous, compressed, unevenly shaped, coarsely rugose-tuberculate, 4 x 6 mm (based on Grierson and Long, 2001; Lusweti et al., 2014; Mozdelevich, 2015; PIER, 2015).


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B. suaveolens is native to the rainforests of the Amazonian region of central South America, including Amazonas state in Brazil and possibly Acre and Rondonia, and neighbouring parts of Bolivia and Peru (USDA-ARS, 2015), although the exact limits of its native range are unclear and may be broader (to include Ecuador and Argentina). However, according to Hay (2014), writing for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and referencing Lockwood (1973a), the original distribution was the forested Atlantic coastal strip of eastern Brazil, from northern Rio Grande do Sul to southern Bahia.

Hay (2014) also postulates that B. suaveolens and all other Brugmansia species are extinct in the wild as no herbarium collections of confirmed wild plants or specialist botanical reports of occurrence in the wild have ever been made for any species in the genus. Any identifications are thought to be misidentifications (usually of Datura) or localized escapes from cultivation. Lack of evidence for fruit dispersal or spontaneous seedlings indicates that any past dispersers are extinct from the South American fauna, and that its occurrence in the wild is dependent on cultivation by people.

As a cultigen, B. suaveolens has been widely introduced since at least the 1800s as an ornamental plant, and is present pan-tropically, but is also common in temperate countries. It is hardy and has escaped cultivation to invade residential areas throughout much of South and Central America, Mexico, Australia and parts of south-central Florida in the USA (Save Our Waterways Now, 2015). It is very likely to be present in many more countries than those indicated in the distribution table.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BhutanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
IndiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
-NagalandPresentIntroducedRao, 1994
-SikkimPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
-UttarakhandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
-West BengalPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015Darjeeling
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015
-JavaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
JapanPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2015
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedChoi et al., 2014
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedKiew, 2008
MyanmarPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
NepalPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
PakistanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedSan et al., 2014; GBIF, 2015
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2015Persists after cultivation
VietnamPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015


CameroonPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
GhanaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Lusweti et al., 2014; GBIF, 2015Naturalized
MadagascarPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MauritiusPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
RéunionPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
RwandaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015; GBIF, 2015Tenerife
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Lusweti et al., 2014; GBIF, 2015; Witt and Luke, 2017
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Lusweti et al., 2014; GBIF, 2015; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
BahamasPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
CubaPresentIntroducedFuentes Fiallo, 1990
DominicaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
HaitiPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
HondurasPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
JamaicaPresentIntroducedJAMAICA, 1945
MartiniquePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
PanamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015Misiones and Corrientes Provinces
BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
BrazilPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-AcrePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-AlagoasPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-AmazonasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-BahiaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-CearaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-GoiasPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-ParaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-ParaibaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-ParanaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-RondoniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-RoraimaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
-Sao PauloPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Juan Fernandez islands
ColombiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
EcuadorPresentNative Not invasive PIER, 2015Introduced and cultivated on Galapagos Islands
GuyanaPresentIntroducedSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 2015
ParaguayPresentNativeGBIF, 2015
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
VenezuelaPresentNativeGBIF, 2015Barinas, Distrito Federal, Miranda, Nueva Esparta


FrancePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
GreecePresentIntroducedMalandraki et al., 2010As a nursery ornamental
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedVerhoeven et al., 2008As a nursery ornamental
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
SloveniaPresentIntroducedMarn et al., 2011As a nursery ornamental
SpainPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015Malaga
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015Mallorca
SwedenPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015; GBIF, 2015Over 100 plants observed growing in a 40 x 5 m area of Byrangery Creek
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Navie, 2012; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015Has formed dense colonies in northern Brisbane along Enoggera Creek
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Viti Levu Island
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Invasive on Moorea and Tahiti; cultivated Niau Atoll
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Kermadec islands
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Burkill, 1901; PIER, 2015Vavau Island
VanuatuPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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B. suaveolens was present in Tonga by 1900 (Burkill, 1901), and has now been recorded as naturalized and/or invasive in many Pacific islands, as well as in Australia (southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales), New Zealand, East Africa, Florida (USA), Puerto Rico and elsewhere (Navie, 2012; Lusweti et al., 2014). It is reported as naturalized in East Africa, notably in Uganda, in Kenya, where it is invasive in some areas (Lusweti et al., 2014), and in Tanzania (Dawson et al., 2008; Lusweti et al., 2014), where, although present in the Usambara Mountains, it is not considered invasive (Darwin Inititative, 2007). In Australia, it has formed dense colonies along Byrangery Creek in New South Wales (GBIF, 2015) and Enoggera Creek in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, and is also naturalized on Norfolk Island (Navie, 2012).

Risk of Introduction

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As a valued ornamental, it is highly possible that further introduction will occur, with escape from cultivation being likely. Weed risk assessments have not been carried out on B. suaveolens by PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk), but have for the B. suaveolens hybrid B. candida; assessments both for the Pacific and for Australia/New Zealand (adapted for Florida) gave that taxon a score of 2, indicating a low risk (PIER, 2015).


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Where introduced, B. suaveolens can be found in lowland rainforest, forest edges, disturbed habitats, riverbanks and urban open spaces (Lusweti et al., 2014). It is sometimes naturalized in dense forest along streams in Fiji, sometimes cultivated and becoming a village weed, and is found from near sea level to about 600 m (PIER, 2015). In New Caledonia, it is considered as locally abundant in cool and humid areas, but not cultivated. The species is also found adjacent to landslide scars in the Philippines (San Luis et al., 2014). In Australia it invades creeks, impeding water flow.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedProtected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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In the Atlantic forests of Brazil, B. suaveolens is a perennial outcrossing shrub, sub-spontaneous in forest fragments and with populations structured in patches. Alcantara et al. (2005) showed that there was low genetic variability and high genetic structure among populations, as well as significant inbreeding, indicating the occurrence of independent colonization events and low gene flow between populations.

Reproductive Biology

Reproduction in B. suaveolens is by seed, though there are reports of vegetative propagation from broken stems, as well as suckering to produce dense colonies (Navie, 2012; Save Our Waterways Now, 2015). As B. suaveolens exhibits gametophytic self-incompatibility (Geitmann, 1993) and rarely sets seed where introduced, most weedy populations originate by vegetative means. Flowers of Brugmansia tend to be more fragrant in the evenings and at night, making them more attractive to nocturnal pollinators, especially bats and moths (Preissel and Preissel, 2002; Mejicano, 2011).

Physiology and Phenology

When B. suaveolens seed germination was tested by Montanucci et al. (2012), they found that germination was reduced to various extents by various seed treatments. Seed germination can take from 2 weeks to 2 months, and is best at 20-26°C. Increased light availability increases flowering. In experimental studies, Escher and Middendorf (1990) found that supplementary lighting brought forward the appearance of flower buds by 10 days, and increased flower bud number and plant height.

Scopolamine and other tropane alkaloids are produced in seeds, stems, leaves and roots, and are thought to protect B. suaveolens against herbivorous insects (Alves et al., 2007; Arab et al., 2012).

Environmental Requirements

B. suaveolens is principally a species of tropical climates, native to humid and sub-humid areas with summer, winter or uniform rainfall, but it will also grow in drier areas, and in more temperate zones. In areas with a cold winter, this perennial species will die back to ground level each year, resprouting in the spring unless the winter was severe. Little specific information is available regarding environmental requirements, but it appears that it is rather tolerant of a range of climate, soil and site situations, but prefers humid conditions and fertile sites.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -4
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10 20


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration03number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall5002500mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Brugmansia suaveolens mottle virus Pathogen Leaves to species
Cercospora abchazica Pathogen Leaves not specific
Potato spindle tuber viroid Pathogen Leaves not specific
Tomato spotted wilt virus Pathogen Leaves not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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As a widely grown ornamental plant, B. suaveolens has no serious pest or disease problems. It has been reported as hosting a number of important virus diseases of commercial crops. The genus Pospiviroid, for example, includes 10 different viroids which commonly infect tubers, with Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) as the type species; these can cause up to 50% yield reductions in potato and tomato crops in the year of infection. Viroids are easily transmitted mechanically by hands, tools and machinery, and in 2006 PSTVd was discovered on Brugmansia sp. as a new host in the Netherlands, with infections being symptomless (Verhoeven et al., 2008). PSTVd was later detected on B. suaveolens for the first time in Greece in 2010 (Malandraki et al., 2010) and in Slovenia in 2011 (Marn et al., 2011).

Brugmansia suaveolens mottle virus, identified as a putative new potyvirus, was isolated from B. suaveolens plants in Brazil (Lucinda et al., 2008). Tomato spotted wilt virus was also reported for the first time on B. suaveolens in Korea (Choi et al., 2014).

In Jamaica in the 1940s, Cercospora abchazica was identified as the cause of a leaf spot on B. suaveolens (Jamaica Department of Agriculture, 1945).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Both seeds and fruit capsules float, and water is likely to be the major mode of dissemination as it can also serve to disperse vegetative parts of the plant along waterways, allowing them to root in suitable downstream substrates.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Being toxic, all plant parts are avoided by livestock and wild animals, and seeds are very unlikely to be ingested. Hay (2014) considers that any biotic dispersers present in the past are now extinct.

Accidental Introduction

Many species of Datura are reported to have been introduced as seed contaminants in cereal grain (e.g., sorghum), birdseed, etc., so without further information this means of introduction cannot be discounted for Brugmansia. Seed of B. suaveolens is larger than that of most Datura species and as such it should be easier to identify as a contaminant. 

Local spread of B. suaveolens is possible accidentally through the dumping of garden waste. Seed capsules could be spread in this way, as could node-bearing stems, as the species is also reported to be able to reproduce vegetatively (Navie, 2012).

Intentional Introduction

With its showy and fragrant flowers, B. suaveolens has been widely introduced as an ornamental species, and it is likely that further introductions for this reason are likely.

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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As B. suaveolens has been reported as a host of a number of important virus diseases of commercial crops, especially other Solanaceae such a potato and tomato (Verhoeven et al., 2010), its presence can have negative impacts on crop yields. As such, it should be removed from areas where solanaceous crops are regularly grown.

Environmental Impact

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In Australia, B. suaveolens poses a threat to waterways. It can form large colonies that inhibit water flow in creeks and impact riparian vegetation if left unmanaged (Navie, 2012). A mother plant can produce thick roots in the riverbed that stretch for several metres; these then sucker to form huge, creek-blocking colonies. Plants observed in such colonies did not seem to reproduce by seed but, being brittle, easily broke into node-bearing cuttings which in any flood or high water event floated downstream to be left in detritus to start a new colony (Save Our Waterways Now, 2015).

In Africa, B. suaveolens has also become a pest of lowland rainforest and forest edges (Lusweti et al., 2014), where it presumably replaces native plant species.

Social Impact

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There are many reports of poisoning involving B. suaveolens. For example, the California Poison Control System ranks Brugmansia species as Class 1, its most toxic plant category, with the sap causing vision problems, confusion and elevated heart rates. In Taiwan, ingestion of wild B. suaveolens caused dizziness, dry mouth, flushed skin, palpitation, nausea, drowsiness, tachycardia, blurred vision and mydriasis after an incubation period of only 15-30 minutes (Chang et al., 1999). Acute motor axonal neuropathy type Guillain-Barré syndrome in a previously healthy child was reported as due to ingestion of B. suaveolens (Sevketoglu et al., 2010), while ocular exposure to B. suaveolens was reported as causing anisocoria, blurred vision and pharmacologic mydriasis (Firestone and Sloane, 2007). Due to its hallucinogenic effects, abuse of angel trumpet is not uncommon and should be suspected in adolescents presenting with altered mental state and hallucinations in conjunction with other anticholinergic symptoms and signs (Francis and Clarke, 1999).

Intoxication of pets by B. suaveolens ingestion has also been reported (Sena Filho et al., 2007).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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B. suaveolens is a popular garden and container plant grown primarily for its showy and highly attractive flowers, and has also occasionally been used as a live hedge in Uganda (Lusweti et al., 2014).

B. suaveolens is reportedly used as a traditional herbal medicine in north-eastern India (Rao, 1994), and for medicinal use for its spasmolytic or spasmogenic activity (Encarnación-Dimayuga et al., 1998). Plant parts can be smoked, eaten, drunk as a tea or taken as an enema, and in Tanzania it is added to beer. Traditional healers add dried leaves to tobacco to induce diagnostic visions for treating various diseases (Lusweti et al., 2014). B. suaveolens is one the main hallucinogens used by the Shuar and related ethnic groups in Amazonian Ecuador and Peru, and is a common hallucinogen used throughout north-western Amazonia (Bennett, 1992). It is the strongest Shuar hallucinogen and is considered very dangerous.

B. suaveolens has been tested and proved its potential as a nematicide (Salazar-Antón and Guzmán-Hernández, 2014), and has potential use for environmental decontamination and the control of Ancylostoma spp. larvae (Santos et al., 2013). 

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Brugmansia species may be confused with Datura species as both plants have trumpet-shaped flowers. However, Brugmansia are long-lived perennials with flowers that point downwards and have a sweet fragrance, whereas Datura are annual plants with flowers most often pointing upward, and a fragrance described as spicy or lemony (Lusweti et al., 2014). The fruits of B. suaveolens also differ from those of most Datura species in being elongated and smooth, without spines. B. suaveolens is very similar to other angel’s trumpets, especially the hybrid B. × candida. However, the calyx tube at the base of B. × candida flowers is partially split down one side, does not separate into small lobes at the tip, and has no obvious gap between it and the white flower tube. The petal tips of B. × candida are also much longer (Navie, 2012).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Large areas of B. suaveolens infestation are controlled by cultivation when weeds are at the seedling stage. Cultivation becomes less effective as plants mature because stems become woodier and roots may not be completely severed. Seedlings emerge over a long period of time, so repeated cultivations may be necessary to reduce the level of infestation (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). However, tillage may promote seed survival as seeds decay more rapidly on the soil surface than when buried, and there is greater loss of seed to predators under no-till than conventional tillage systems.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Isolated plants of Brugmansia and Datura species should be hand-pulled before they set seed. Navie (2012) reports that individual plants can be manually removed with the aid of suitable tools, but care must be taken to remove the crown as plants may regrow from the base.

Chemical control

Herbicides used to control Datura species may be suitable for Brugmansia. Parsons and Cuthbertson (2001) report that Datura can be controlled with 2,4-D at the seedling and young growth stages, but plants become resistant as they mature. Other effective non-selective herbicides include atrazine, diquat and glyphosate. The following herbicides have been used to control Datura in crops: bentazone in soyabeans and groundnuts; 2,4-DB in certain varieties of groundnut; dicamba in grain sorghum and maize; and picloram + 2,4-D in summer cereals (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). However, some of these products should not be used near waterways, and in such situations a basal bark or cut stump application of an aquatically registered formulation of glyphosate is suggested (Navie, 2012). 


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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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16/11/2014   Original text by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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