Jimson Weed Identification:
An annual plant with a large, whitish root that produces the round, glabrous, yellowish-green, branching stem. It grows from 1 to 5 feet high. The leaves are alternate, dark green above and lighter beneath, ovate, and irregularly incised and toothed. Datura stramonium Flower
Large, white, funnel-shaped flowers grow on short peduncles in the axils of the branches. The fruit is an ovate, prickly capsule containing many small seeds. They are dark brown, with a pitted surface and a flattened kidney shape.
Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
Other Names: Devil’s Apple, Devil’s Trumpet, Jamestown Weed, Mad-Apple, Nightshade, Peru-Apple, Stinkweed, Stinkwort, Stramonium, Thorn-apple
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Leaves & seeds
Habitat: Waste places, pastures, gardens, and roadsides all over North and South America and in many other parts of the world.
History: There is a well known story about the name Jimsonweed having come from the colony at Jamestown Virginia. Versions of the story differ in details but it seems a group of British soldiers, sent there to quell a rebellion in 1676, were fed the leaves of this Datura, which was common around the settlement. As the story goes, the soldiers were out of their minds for about a week and when they finally recovered they remembered nothing of what had happened.
The use of Datura by priests and shamans predates history. It may have been used at Delphi by priests of Apollo to bring on visions of the future and its use was certainly known by ancient Peruvians and others in South and Central America. It was smoked by Arabs and used as an agent of assassination in India.
Occasionally a youth attempts to use Datura as a recreational drug often ending up in a hospital emergency room. The seeds are usually taken and a small dose can produce profoundly distressing effects if not death. As little as half a teaspoon of crushed seeds can produce complete delirium in an adult followed by days of disorientation and loss of equilibrium.
Constituents: Hyoscyamine, Scopolamine, Atropine.
Properties: Anodyne, Antispasmodic, Hallucinogen, Narcotic.
Main Uses: All parts of the plant contain the active components but it is the leaves and seeds most often used medically. The active alkaloids are hyoscyamine, atropine and scopolamine. The plant has well known and proven properties which include being antispasmodic and anti-asthmatic. It is a hallucinogenic, produces delirium and death. Other effects include the dilated pupils and airways, increased heart rate and dry mouth. The most common medical use of the plant has always been the treatment of asthma. It seems the leaves have long been smoked for that purpose in this area by Native Americans and by many others in the far corners of the earth. Chemicals from Datura are used to dilate the eyes, in patches placed behind the ear for vertigo and to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Hot, dry, and flushed skin, hallucinations, pupil dilation, headache, delirium, rapid and weak pulse, convulsions, and coma.
Warning WARNING! This plant is extremely toxic! This page is for identification only.