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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Brugmansia ‘Culebra’ hybridisation

Last year I decided to have a go at breeding with Brugmansia ‘Culebra’, a mutated and unusual Brugmansia cultivar from the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia. this is taken from the Herbalsitics website:  Brugmansia aurea ‘Culebra’ was re-discovered in the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia, 1942 and originally described by R.E. Schultes as Methysticodendron amesianum and named after his professor and Director of Harvard Botanic Garden, Oakes Ames. The common name Culebra is a translation of the description ‘mutscuai borrachero’ used by the Kamsa Indians. The most literal translation would mean ‘plant of the snake that intoxicates or makes drunk’ (Preissel & Preissel, 2001). A beautiful shrub with white segmented flowers which emit a typical B. aurea perfume in late afternoon/night. Long, narrow highly ornamental leaves. Contains tropane alkaloids so care should be taken when handling all plant parts. Most Brugmansia species are used medicinally or for divining purposes in South America. Culebra is particularly rich in tropane alkaloids and widely used in its native habitat for rheumatic and arthritic pains.

Having heard no solid reports of it being used in a breeding project, I decided to hybridise it with the Herbalistics named cultivar ‘Tantra’, itself a hybrid of ‘double white x B. aurea’. Success! Using Culebra as the staminate parent (pollen donor) and Tantra as the pistillate parent several crosses were made and every one of the eight crosses developed into a fruit, as seen below.

IMG_1232 The fruit developed over 6-8 months, growing larger and larger.

IMG_1263 and larger!

IMG_1294 until when they are ready, you can watch the colour change slightly to a more off yellow and the fruit become soft. Care is taken as they start to disintegrate and fall apart. A few were picked early and this had no impact on viability as seen in the picture below, with a tri-cotyledon variegated seedling emerging.

IMG_1611 Now the task of observing and then breeding on (Dr. Alistair Hay, Brugmansia expert and author, expects there to be greater variety and interesting seedlings in the second generation, F2, as genes combine in different ways). Below is one seedling which has reached flowering height, however the hot dry part of the year is upon us and proper flowers will be further along. It has flowered and these were small and green, double inside the caylx, which did not open before dropping off). More work awaits.


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