Datura (Datura meteloides) aka jimson, thornapple, moon lily, tolguachua

Datura blossoms

The large white trumpet-shaped flowers of the datura are something of a surprise in the desert where flowers tend to be smaller and more moisture-conserving. These giant lily-like blooms are at their best in the evening and night and often close during the daylight hours. The plant grows on roadsides and in washes from 1000ft to 6000ft in elevation. Datura is a member of the nightshade family and shares the poisonous qualities that many of that family exhibit. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous if eaten. The seed pods, which give the plant one of its common names--thornapple--are prickly and about the size of a walnut. The leaves are grayish green and heart shaped or oval. Insects evidently are not bothered by the poison; often the leaves of these plants are severely damaged by being eaten by insects. It is also reported that kangaroo rats eat the seeds.

Datura plant

Datura plant, photographed Hereford, AZ

If you would like to enjoy the beauty of datura in your own garden, a closely related plant is available from commercial nurseries. It is generally labeled Brugmansia and includes varieties from tropical climates which are sold under the common name of Angel Trumpets. In a container it grows into a large shrubby plant bearing lots of fragrant flowers, but it is not hardy and needs to be brought in to a non-freezing location during the winter. It is available in yellow, lavender, pink, and red as well as the original white. Like the wild datura all parts of this cultivated plant are poisonous.