The first time I saw Brugmansia flowers, they were hanging head-high in a group of trees. The fragrance in the evening air was heady and the flowers seemed not quite of this world. I was told that they are called Gabriel’s Trumpet and that they are extremely poisonous. The blossoms do indeed look as though they might be trumpets for angels. They are very large, with blossoms longer than my hand. The fact that Gabriel’s Trumpet flowers are so poisonous makes perfect sense, as no mere mortal would be able to put their lips to such a horn.

Many of the common English names we know plants by originated during the middle ages, when everything in the natural world was used to reinforce lessons from the church. The illiterate peasants found the means to retell the stories in their surroundings. There are plants called Moses-in-a-Boat, Babylon Weeping, Jacob’s Ladder and Joseph’s Coat. The Spiritual Life of Plants series brings together the otherworldly and earthly views of the plants.