|Scientific Name:||Brugmansia aurea Lagerh.|
Brugmansia pittieri (Saff.) Moldenke
Datura aurea Lagerh.
Datura pittieri Saff.
|Taxonomic Source(s):||Hay, A., Gottschalk, M. & Holguín, A. 2012. Huanduj - Brugmansia. Florilegium, Sydney & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.|
|Taxonomic Notes:||One of the parents (with B. versicolor Lagerh.) of the widespread anthropogenic hybrid B. x candida Pers. Often found in close proximity to B. x candida with which it intergrades, B. aurea is difficult to circumscribe rigorously. Ostensibly non-hybrid examples of B. aurea exhibit much variation. The extent to which truly non-hybrid examples of this species exist has not been ascertained. See further discussion in Hay et al. (2012: 103-110).
Brugmansia species as a whole have sometimes been viewed as cultigens (e.g. Bristol 1966). This view was not accepted by Hay et al. (2012: 15) who view them as species long conserved through cultivation by indigenous people. There is no evidence for any of the species having come into being under human husbandry from wild progenitors, since no candidates for wild progenitors exist.
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Extinct in the Wild ver 3.1|
Most of the rationale for this assessment applies to all species of the genus:
|Previously published Red List assessments:|
|Range Description:||Lockwood (1973) formed the view that, despite the exclusive association of brugmansias with human habitation, native distributions of the species could be defined and recognised by the presence of intraspecific variability and high levels of fruit set, in contrast to low variability and low or absent fruit set in clones taken outside their native range.|
On that basis the distribution is understood to be from south-central Ecuador to northeast Colombia. It is unclear if records from northwest Venezuela are of plants which are best regarded as native or introduced.
Despite occurring at relatively high altitude (2000-3000 m), this species is highly frost-sensitive, which may explain its absence from cooler, drier parts of the Andes at similar altitudes (Lockwood 1973: 52).
Regionally extinct:Colombia; Ecuador
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||Since this genus survives only in cultivation, the wild population of this species is zero. There are anecdotal views expressed by some indigenous healers that plants of this (and other) Brugmansia species are being eradicated from some indigenous gardens due to its toxicity and the declining numbers of healers expert enough to use it safely. However, there are no quantitative data.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||Cultivated in indigenous gardens between 2000 and 3000 m alt, in frost-free areas with relatively even rainfall supporting rain forest. Occasional as a remnant in abandoned gardens (and there probably transient as the plants are not shade tolerant).|
|Use and Trade:||
There is a wide range of medicinal and spiritual uses, many shared with other species and hybrids, among the indigenous people who cultivate it (Hay et al. 2012: 22-73). It is grown as an ornamental plant, and is valued by horticultural collectors and hybridizers in North America, the European Union and Australia in particular.
As with the rest of this genus, its usefulness, far from being a threat, appears to be what has allowed it to avoid complete extinction.
As with all other species of Brugmansia, there are no confirmed records at all of wild populations of B. aurea.
The absence of wild plants was first recorded (albeit in relation to other Brugmansia species) by Ruiz & Pavón in the late 18th Century (Schultes & von Thene de Jamarillo-Arango 1998: 114). Later, in spite of decades of field work in NW South America, R.E. Schultes and his students Lockwood and Bristol, who specialized in this genus and other neotropical psychoactive plants, recorded finding no wild brugmansias at all (Bristol 1966, Lockwood 1973). Recent examination by Hay of numerous herbarium collections has turned up no specimens collected from the wild (Hay et al. 2012: 172).
While it is valued by those who know well how to use it both medicinally and as an entheogen, it is feared for its toxicity and superstitions about its ‘evil’ nature by those who do not, and it is anecdotally reported as being eradicated from gardens, sometimes at the behest of local authorities in response to the use of scopolamine for criminal purposes.
Loss of interest in cultivating this species, through loss of traditional healing skills, as well as active steps to eradicate it in places are the principal and current threats, as with other Brugmansia species.
Introgression from Brugmansia versicolor, via the hybrid B. x candida, seems to continue to genetically ‘contaminate’ this species through much of its range, though there are no quantitative data concerning this threat.
The complete absence of wild plants suggests, as with other Brugmansia species, that the disperser(s) is extinct. The continued existence of this species within its presumed native range is currently dependent on its being cultivated by indigenous people.
Its ongoing survival appears dependent on maintenance or rehabilitation of cultural traditions in which it is used. Education about its cultural and practical value, as well as its precarious conservation status seem essential to counteract the negativity with which these plants are often seen. Legal protection may be desirable to counteract knee-jerk eradication of the plants by local authorities in response to criminal use (burundanga).
Getting a representative range of non-hybrid clones into cultivation in tropical botanic gardens, and breeding them, would seem a practical step.
|Citation:||Hay, A. 2014. Brugmansia aurea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T38124A58906215.Downloaded on 20 January 2018.|