Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zion Canyon: Sacred Datura

The sacred datura is a beautiful white flower also known as the Zion lilly. The sacred datura has a slightly sweet fragrance, but it is highly poisonous. Visitors to Zion are urged not to touch the plant, which can cause hallucinations and possibly death.

The sacred datura opens its large white flowers during the night and closes them up again, usually by mid morning. They are fairly abundant in the southern section of the park and are often found growing side by side with wild squash plants. The flowers of the squash plant have a strong smell much like bad body odor. When I first encountered the squash, I had worked up quite a sweat and smelling the squash caused me to stop my hike to double check my deodorant. After a few moments I realized that the squash was the worst smelling pumpkin that I have ever encountered.

These sacred datura happened to be in the perfect spot to dress up this early morning composition of the towers of the Virgin. I was fortunate to be able to find an area where I could photograph the Towers of the Virgin and the Watchman with beautiful floral foregrounds.

The second image on this post is a macro of a sacred datura in the late evening, before the flower reopened for the night.

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