Toloache. Náatumush. Datura wrightii. Angel’s trumpet. Devil’s weed.
Names in Nahuatl, Luiseño, Latin, and English, respectively, for the sacred datura plant.
I’m working on an on-going project to trace the datura’s transformation from sacred plant to noxious weed, from revered intoxicant used in Luiseño coming-of-age ceremonies to a dangerous and deadly recreational drug for teens, from a widely used and highly respected medicine to a plant whose healing properties as an analgesic and anesthetic have been largely forgotten, suppressed, or ignored except by healers/curanderos in Mexico and elsewhere.
In Daniel Moerman’s comprehensive Native American Ethnobotany, he writes that Datura wrightii is considered the “most universally used hallucinogenic and medicinal plant known to humans” by Luiseño, Kumeyaay, Cahuilla, Gabrielino, and Chumash people. According to the late anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, the sacred datura was the heart of their entire religious system.