Sultry and steamy are the norm for July summer mornings in Austin, but the open blooms of Jimsonweed, Datura wrightii, deliver a dose of cooling bloom to the garden.
These two petulantly refused to greet me as I trundled along the path for closer look and a breath of their intoxicating fragrance.
What is this?
A Green Lynx spider, Peucetia viridans rested on the creamy expanse, clutching what looked like a breakfast tidbit. As I leaned in for a look, Ms Lynx skittered to the underside of the petal, prey in hand. We briefly played photographer/spider hide-n-seek, but I succeeded in snagging a couple of photos of her–and her intended meal.
I didn’t figure out what she captured; it was probably a small bee, gnat, or fly, but she certainly wasn’t going to share with me, nor did she want to dine while I was loitering around her choice of dining establishment.
The spider proved lethal for its winged prey, but Jimsonweed (also known as Sacred Thorn Apple, Thorn Apple, Angel Trumpet, and Sacred Datura) has always been recognized for its toxic properties–all parts of this tough native are poisonous. Southwestern Native Americans utilized the narcotic qualities of Jimsonweed for religious ceremonies, but if prepared improperly (I don’t know what improperly means in this context), the dosage is fatal.
Reveling in the heat of arid summer, my one shrub blooms from July until September, typically with 5-10 flowers each week. If Jimsonweed grows in full, blasting sun, the plant flowers more, and for a longer period of time.
I’ll need to pop out at night during the next set of blooms and perhaps I’ll observe a pollinating moth. Until then, I’ll stick with coffee and some fruit for my breakfast and leave the spiders to their own meals.