Thursday, April 28, 2016

Farewell to the Angel's Trumpet Tree

By Jenn Purnell

For many years there have been two Angel’s Trumpet trees in our Tropical Butterfly House (Brugmansia × candida). These trees are in the center bed, and have large, pale orange, trumpet-shaped flowers. We have recently decided to remove these two trees and replace them with different plant species. Because the Angel’s Trumpet trees are some of the most recognized and well-loved plants in our Tropical Butterfly House, we want to let everyone know why we are removing them.



Many plants defend themselves from being eaten by producing toxins. There are things we do to minimize guests' exposure to these toxins: asking guests not to touch plants and pruning certain plants so they are out of reach. The Angel’s Trumpet trees are a special challenge because they are large plants that continually grow outward towards the walkway and they drop leaves readily throughout the day. Consuming the foliage can cause severe medical reactions. Now that our trees have grown to fill the entire space, the concern of someone grabbing a leaf has become very real. The plant's beauty is not enough reason to keep something that could harm our guests. Yet a longstanding plant is like a team member, and these trees will be missed.

As sad as we are to lose these two beautiful trees, we are excited to try out some new plants. There are dozens of tropical tree species that have exciting traits – fabulous flowers, interesting bark, nectar for butterflies, ethnobotanic uses, educational potential, etc. We will be removing the Angel’s Trumpet trees over the next few weeks, and trying out two new plant species. Stay tuned to find out more about the newcomers!


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