» Poisonous Plants » Jimsonweed, thornapple, datura

Jimsonweed, thornapple, datura

Family: Solanaceae

Scientific name: Datura stramonium L.

Common name: Jimsonweed, thornapple, datura

Description: This coarse, heavy-smelling annual herb of the nightshade family has stout stems up to 4 feet tall. The leaves are alternate and up to 3 inches long, and the white corolla is delicately folded in bud. The fruits are erect and hairless and have spines. The related perennial species Datura inoxia Mill. also has a white corolla that reaches a length of 6 inches. The globose fruit hangs down. Hindu datura (Datura metel L.) and sacred datura (Datura meteloides DC.) also are poisonous.

Occurrence: Jimsonweed is found in dry soil, waste places, and barnyards. It is widely distributed throughout the temperate and warm-temperate regions of the world.

Toxicity: Jimsonweed contains the alkaloids hyoscyamine, atropine, and hyoscine (scopolamine). All parts of the plant, particularly the leaves, are toxic. Children havo been poisoned by sucking nectar from the large trumpet-like flowers, and from eating the leaves or seeds. The seeds are particularly dangerous and are often purposefully used for their narcotic effect. Deaths have occurred from direct poisoning from delirium and hallucinations accompanying their use.

Symptoms: Datura poisoning produces elevated temperature, nausea, thirst, dilation of pupils, weak and rapid pulse, convulsions, delirium, hallucinations, and death.

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