Binske | Lemon Sphinx – 3.5g
Sativa cannabis is known for its “head-high”. It also generates invigorating and energizing effects that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Sativa plants will also increase your mental focus and creativity.
Suggested Musical Pairing: If You Want Me to Stay by Sly & the Family Stone.
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The Sacred Datura (Datura spp.)
Sources: Epple, Anne, 1995, A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona, Falcon Press, pl. 208, p. 219; Russell, Sharman, 2004, "Sex and the Garden", onearth 25:4:26-29; Paul T. Kay, 2005, "Datura", Poster Presentation at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Salt Lake City, Utah (see link below); various Wikipedia essays.
Datura species (e.g. D. wrightii, known as Sacred Datura, or metaloides, also called "jimsonweed" or "devil’s weed"), a perennial herb, is found in all the major deserts of the American Southwest. It grows mostly in sandy washes and along substantial roadsides in our area. Its dark grayish-green, heart-shaped leaves form mounds from which, in summer to fall, sprout striking, 6-inch-long, bright-white flowers tinged with lavender which ripen to become sharp-prickly seed-pods.A plant of great beauty, datura is a member of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae), and all parts of it are toxic. Every resident of or visitor to our desert should be wary of the Russian-roulette-like danger of consuming any of it. See further discussion below.
Each large, trumpet-shaped, fused-5-petalled, luminous blossom of the Datura plant blooms for only one summer night, and must therefore work fast to attract its pollinators. The flower opens early — at twilight — and releases a strong lemon-like scent. Sphinx Moths (or Hawk Moths), of which there are some 43 species in our area, are its major nocturnal pollinators, but various other insects also arrive the following morning to enjoy the pollen at the heart of the flower, one of which may be seen working away at the bottom of the banner photo at the top of the page, and see below in this flower of September 2008: (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
The Hawk Moth Manduca sexta consumes the flower’s nectar, then lays its eggs on the plant. The larvae then consume the leaves down to their nubs, but the Datura plant also has large, tuberous roots which store nutrients against these assaults.
Below: a clear view of Datura leaves, April 2005:
Below left, view in September 2002 of incipient seed-pods after the flowers have closed; below right, one of the still-green, prickly seed clusters, August 2008: (Click on each image to enlarge it.)
When it dries, this seedpod eventually breaks open, releasing the seeds to fall on the ground.
(For more images of the plant, Click here)
Uses: This is A Very Dangerous Plant!
Most parts of the Datura plant contain atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, alkaloid poisons having "anticholinergic" effects, i.e. they cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit acetylcholine (the main neurotransmitter used by the parasympathetic nervous system). These three drugs relax muscles and glands regulated by this sytem, and thus find uses in anaesthesia and as antispasmodics. For example, scopolamine has been used in minute doses as sleeping medicine, but if overdosed can produce "delirium, delusions, paralysis, stupor and death". Symptoms likely to be produced by these drugs include urinary retention, dry mouth, throat, and skin, blurred vision, headache and nausea, dizziness, flushing, fever, euphoria, hallucinations, and short-term memory loss. Little wonder, then, that intoxication with Datura (which contains all three of these chemicals) typically produces "effects similar to that of an anticholinergic delirium": "complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (frank delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia [rapid heart beats]; agitation, including bizarre, inexplicable, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis (hyper-dilation of the eye pupil, due to inibition of acetylcholine function), with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly-reported effect." (These materials are drawn from several Wikipedia essays.) According to the drug information site Erowid (see that link), no other substance has received as many "Train Wreck" severely-negative experience reports as has Datura, the writers noting that "the overwhelming majority of those who describe to us their use of Datura (and to a lesser extent, Belladonna, Brugmansia and Brunfelsia) find their experiences extremely mentally and physically unpleasant and not infrequently physically dangerous."
Archaeological Connections in the North American Southwest
Despite (and perhaps even in part by virtue of) these obvious dangers, many Native American groups (including the O’Odham of our area) during pre-Colonial times sometimes used sacred datura as a hallucinogen (and perhaps for other purposes as well), steeping the leaves into a tea or chewing seeds or roots, but they were well aware of how dangerous this particular vehicle of vision quest was, and their myths typically associate it with death.
For example, the independent-researcher-anthropologist Paul T. Kay has for years considered the iconogaphy of pre-Columbian Pueblo ("Anasazi") people of the American Southwest, and has made a brilliant identification of what he calls a "Datura Polemic" in certain patterns of their ceramic and mural art, based initially on his and others’ work at Pottery Mound, New Mexico but then expanding into wider regional comparisons. Kay sees in certain kinds of Anasazi art a culture of shamanism associated with the ingestion of parts of this plant, and with imageries of death. Below, what he calls "Datura Man", an image of a human being with the body of a Datura pod, painted on a ceramic bowl. Note the red imagery associated with the head, which might allude to some of the distinctive symptoms associated with Datura intoxication (hyperthermia/flushing, agitation, etc.]. Note also the open mouth with teeth visibly prominent, an icon of death in many cultures including those of the American Southwest. (Thanks to Mr. Kay for sending us the pottery images shown below.)
One of the most interesting things Kay has found is a widespread symbolism associating the Night Flying Hawkmoth (Manducca and related spp), both with the Datura plant (which this moth pollinates by night) and with other important symbolic complexes among Pueblo and other historic Native Americans. Images that other researchers have thought were "butterflies" or other insects (for example, on archaeological Kiva wall murals as well as on pottery and elsewhere) more typically depict these moths, he suggests, and a repeated icon others have identified as a Mexican-linked "Plumed Serpent" he sees as representations of the instar (a larval stage of development) of this Datura pollinator. For a single example of this moth symbolism, see this Pueblo IV ceramic below. First note the spiraling proboscis shown along the lip of the bowl, a noteworthy feature of the Hawkmoth (and much represented in Pueblo art, including depictions of it on otherwise quite humanoid figures):
Below is a much higher-resolution image of the Hawkmoth on this same pot: (click on the image to enlarge it)
Then compare the image above with the following photo in the University of Arizona’s Bioscience website Moths of Southeastern Arizona, depicting the Hawkmoth Manduca rustica (and here note also the three yellow bars running along the abdomen). All of these patterns suggest, he argues, an ancient southwestern shamanism closely associated with extremes, including violence and death.
For much more on this subject of ancient deadly shamanism, see Paul’s remarkable website, Paul T. Kay on Datura-related Art.
Tomato Hornworms, Sphinx Moths, and Tiny Fried Tomatoes (with honey)
Horizontal sunlight at sunrise; the turkey appears to notice the light.
Aunt Linda Here:
It feels fresh here this morning here, after a substantial (and substantially needed) rainfall last evening. The nearly horizontal sunrise early this morning lit the red comb of my roosters/hens making them appear to glow. And the turkeys’s feel magical, in and of themselves, especially in the “betwixt and between” light, when it is not quite dawn and not quite day. Season-wise, we are also betwixt and between, it being not quite summer and not quite fall. There are changes in the garden as well. One change is the type of insects that abound this time of year.
In the photo above, you can see that Tomato Hornworms are quite nimble; this one could challenge the most skilled yoga master, as it eats away at my lemon verbena.
Our gardens, in addition to offering the freshest food available, also function as mystical playgrounds for the many intricate plant-insect interactions that (most often) occur beyond human view. Here in the desert southwest, some of our most beloved plants and insects have maintained their mystical names: Queen-of-the-Night Cactus Flower, Sacred Datura, and the Sphinx Moth are just a few.
Before the The Sphinx moth transforms into the wide-winged (up to 4 inches), long- tongued (there are different varieties; some have tongues up to 14 inches!) moth that pollinates the Queen of the Night Cactus Flower and the Sacred Datura, it needs to feast. This feasting occurs so often on our tomato plants, that this “hornworm” is commonly referred to as “The Tomato Hornworm”. It’s scientific name is Manduca quinquemaculata, and it is is this larva of the Spinx Moth (also commonly referred to as Hawk Moths, or Hummingbird Moths; they fly with such strength and agility that they remind us of birds!) that you find on your tomato plants this time of year. These hornworms can grow to the surprising size, of about 4 inches in length. When they are large enough, they form into the dark brown pupa we sometimes find hidden in the soil. It is during this stage that the larvae are transforming into the large-winged, long-tongued moth that you may have seen hovering over cactus, and other, flowers as night falls.
Because of the of the sacrifices a tomato plant makes, suffering through the feasting of voracious tomato hornworm, I hate to let any of the the end of summer green or harder red fruit go to waste. Because I love to love to grow smaller “cherry” style tomatoes, it is those that I most eat and cook with. Here in the desert it just makes sense to follow Nature’s lead, and plants with smaller leaves and fruit tend to thrive. This is a survival strategy for a harsh desert environment. Each time a plant opens its pores, which it does in transpiration, it looses water. Replacing the water is critical, so the smaller the surface area the less water is lost and more. “Cherry” tomatoes, like the Punta Banda, Chiapas, or wild Texas varieties (you can get seed at Native Seeds SEARCH) are prolific! Cherry-tomato plants, in my experience, require less water. And they produce and produce and produce; I have enjoyed the fruit of the Chiapas Tomatoes (some years) throughout Nov/and even December!
So this recipe honors these little humble tomato-heroes, who grow despite desert heat and the voracious chomping of hornworms. I used Punta Banda tomatoes, but the standard cherry tomatoes that grow in your garden, or that you get at the market will work as well.
Recipe: (for 3 people/servings)
-1/2 cup milk (buttermilk for a richer result; almond milk works is you are vegan)
-1/2 organic cornmeal (I used medium grade)
-2 tablespoons Mesquite flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
– crushed chiltepin (optional)
– 1/2 all-purpose flour OR try coconut flour. So many folks today opt for a gluten-free option, so I used this flour (for the first time) in the recipe.
– 3 cups cherry tomatoes – or three large tomatoes.
– coconut or vegetable oil
Whisk together the egg and milk. Combine the cornmeal, salt, pepper, chiltpen flakes, and 1/4 cup flour on a shallow dish or plate.
“Dredge” the tomatoes first in remaining 1/4 flour, second in the egg/milk mixture, lastly in the cornmeal/mesquite/chiltepin mix. It is a messier affair with the coconut flour, but fried tomatoes are hardly “neat” to begin with. And that is exactly what I like about them. So much of life has to be so tidy, and precise. This food, like the end of summer, and change of seasons, can be messy — but oh so tasty!
In a think bottomed pan, pour coconut oil to about 1/2 inch depth, and heat to medium-high heat. Use whatever vegetable oil you prefer – I I like coconut oil for this as it has a lower smoke point, and it goes with the sweetness of the coconut and mesquite flours. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the poil, and cook until golden. Drain them on paper towels.
Try with all purpose – and if you, like so many, today are opting for a more gluten-free option, try coconut flour. It is a messier affair with the cocnut flour, but fried tomatoes are hardly a neat affair. And that is exactly what I like about it. So much of life has to be so tidy, and precise. This food, like the end of summer and change of seasons can ne messy in its expression. Added mostly new world ingredients
Perhaps it was the sweetness of the cornmeal, mesquite flour, plus coconut flour, but these fried tomatoes had a flavor reminiscent of corn bread. Between that and the Picante of the chiltepin, these little freid tomatoes LITERALLY called our for honey. I ate them sweet and spicy, as you can see below – and with a cup of non-sweetened coco. I loved how many New World ingredients this recipe offers: Corn, Mesquite, tomatoes, chile, — and chocolate!