Datura: Beautiful and Mysterious

Sacred Datura

Datura grows wild throughout the Desert Southwest. Also known as Jimson Weed and “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Flower,” ranchers, among others, find it a noxious weed that can kill livestock. It has been used in rituals by some Native American groups. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and I did not grow it when children and outdoor pets were a concern. I bought my first plant at a nursery, and it has continued to reseed itself over the years.

The Beauty and Mystery of Sacred Datura

In 2013 and 2014, caterpillars (sometimes called “hornworms;” they attack tomatoes also) of the sphinx moth really damaged my datura. This year, I have not yet seen one of these caterpillars, although I have seen several sphinx moths in the last week or so. I’m watching closely for any evidence of these caterpillars so I can remove them before they completely destroy a plant.

Although these flowers are beautiful, I find them challenging to photograph. They unfurl at dusk. At first light of dawn, they begin to droop. This photograph was made in the early morning of a cloudy, hazy day.

The seed pods are very interesting, and I expect to have images of those a little later.

Some Rainbow! Some Sky!

Some Rainbow! Some Sky!

Tonight’s sky and its rainbow were rare, even by New Mexico standards. Although this view from my house shows a boiling sky with much turbulence up above, there was no wind at my house and, sadly, no rain. Other places nearby, however, got both.

rainbow sky
Some Sky! Some Rainbow!

Several things were unusual about this rainbow. First, it was essentially a single rainbow, in contrast to the many double rainbows seen frequently in Albuquerque. Even triple and quadruple rainbows are not unheard of here. A single rainbow is relatively uncommon.

On close inspection, the rainbow appears not to have a smooth edge or smooth curve, in contrast to what is usually seen. Low clouds were passing by, and light from the sun in the west was broken up in different places by these clouds, giving a somewhat jagged appearance. At one point, the rainbow appeared to be cut in half by a passing cloud.

rainbow sky
Rainbow ‘Cut’ by Cloud

Perhaps the most unusual thing about this rainbow was the length of time it lasted. I do not know how long it was out there before I saw it. I began photographing at 7:15:29 pm, and stopped at 7:36:13 pm. Remnants were still visible near the base when I came in. A minimum of 21 minutes is a very long time for a rainbow to remain visible, at least here in the desert!

Of course, the dominant feature in the sky was the cloud/clouds. For all of that upper level turbulence, it was calm on the ground at my house. And, the whiteness at sunset is somewhat unusual for clouds, even looking east to the Sandia Mountains.

Once again, Albuquerque and New Mexico had an amazing sky. Thanks for your patience with this oft-used phrase, dear readers.