Brugmansia versicolor is a perennial tree shrub that grows up to three meters in height. The flowers are large and trumpet-shaped, come in various shapes and colors, and hang straight down. The fruits are thin capsules, which also hang straight down. The leaves are oval with pointed ends. B. versicolor is easily confused with other species of Brugmansia, which has most likely led to mistakes in its identification in ethnographic literature (Ratsch 1998, 109).
Brugmansia versicolor is found in the Northwestern Amazonian rainforest, primarily in Ecuador and northern Peru. It is propagated through cuttings, as are all other Brugmansia species (Schultes & Raffauf 1990).
TRADITIONAL USES: It appears that Brugmansia versicolor is a very important Amazonian shamanic plant but very little information regarding it is available. It is very possible that ethnographic reports have been misidentifying Brugmansia species, and that much of the information regarding B. suaveolens and B. x insignis actually refers to B. versicolor. You may review those articles for more information on traditional usages and effects (Ott 1993).
In Peru, B. versicolor is used as an ayahuasca additive, and is cultivated in home gardens for just this purpose. The Juruna mythology also tells of a man who, passing by a B. versicolor tree, was drawn in to many days of visions, after which time he became a powerful shaman (Voogelbreinder 2009, 105-106).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: A shamanic dosage of B. versicolor is said to be 1-2 ml of juice pressed from the fresh stalks. The dried leaves and flowers are also sometimes smoked alone or in blends (Ratsch 1998, 109). The Juruna mythology mentions the consumption of a tea made from very small amounts of bark scrapings, which imbues shamans with many abilities. As with other species of Brugmansia, it is very dangerous to ingest B. versicolor in any way, even for experienced shamans. It is highly recommended that individuals avoid experimenting with this plant in any form (Voogelbreinder 2009, 105-106)).
MEDICINAL USE: Very little is known about the medicinal uses of B. versicolor, although Schultes and Raffauf have suggested that it has been used as a form of birth control in South American folk medicine. An alcohol tincture of B. versicolor is also used as a sedative and analgesic (Schultes & Raffauf 1990).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: As with other species of Brugmansia, the entire B. versicolor plant contains tropane alkaloids. However, detailed chemical analysis is lacking (Ratsch 1998, 109).
The scent of B. versicolor is said to induce sedative effects, and, at high doses, the scent alone can result in temporary or permanent insanity. Thus, people that live near these angel’s trumpets are wary to fall asleep under them at night. The Juruna tribe also suggest that the scent of the plant alone can cause an individual to have visions and to begin to follow the path of the shaman. Other than this, the effects of consuming B. versicolor are probably very similar to that of consuming other species of Brugmansia, and most likely include delirium, confusion and potential toxic symptoms. It is said in Peru that the effects of consuming B. versicolor can be halted by drinking a beverage called corte, a mix of water, sugar, corn, white rose petals, and limon agrio juice (Voogelbreinder 2009, 105-106).
Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C., Schultes, R., Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.
Ott, J. Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources And History. Natural Products Company, 1993.
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Schultes, R.E., Raffauf, R.F., The Healing Forest: Medicinal and toxic plants of the northwest Amazonia. Portland: Dioscorides Press, 1990.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.