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Thorn apple / Jimson weed
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Datura
Species: D. stramonium
Binomial name
Datura stramonium
  • Datura inermis Juss. ex Jacq.
  • Datura stramonium var. chalybea W. D. J. Koch, nom. illeg.
  • Datura stramonium var. tatula (L.) Torr.
  • Datura tatula L.[1]

Datura stramonium, known by the common names jimson weed,hells carnaval, angel's trumpet, devil's weed, thorn apple, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, datura, moonflower[1], and, in South Africa, malpitte and mad seeds[2] is a common weed in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family.

It is an erect annual herb forming a bush up to 3–5 ft (1–1.5 m) tall.[3] The leaves are soft, irregularly undulate, and toothed. The fragrant flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 2.5 to 3.5 in. long. They rarely open completely. The egg-shaped seed capsule is walnut-sized and either covered with spines or bald. At maturity it splits into four chambers, each with dozens of small black seeds.

Parts of the plant, especially the seeds and leaves, are sometimes used as a hallucinogen. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths, are reported from this use.

The genus name is derived from dhatura, an ancient Hindu word for a plant. Stramonium is originally from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).[4]



The native range of Datura stramonium is unclear. It was scientifically described and named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753, although it was earlier described by many herbalists such as Nicholas Culpeper.[5] It was mentioned earlier by the Persian physician Avicenna in 11th century Persia.[2] Today, it grows wild in all the world's warm and moderate regions, where it is found along roadsides and in dung heaps.[6] In Europe, it is found as a weed on wastelands and in garbage dumps.[6]

The seed is thought to be carried by birds and spread in their droppings. It can lie dormant underground for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed. People surprised to discover it growing in their gardens have contacted organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society to identify it. If worried about its toxicity they are advised to dig it up or have it otherwise removed.[7]


Blooming Datura

All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets. In some places it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants.[6]

The active ingredients are the Tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths,[8] are reported from recreational use.

Datura intoxication typically produces a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect.[9] The antidote of choice for overdose or poisoning is physostigmine. [6]

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported accidental poisoning resulting in hospitalization for a family of six who inadvertently ingested Jimsomweed used as an ingredient in stew.[10]


Datura stramonium was used as a mystical sacrament in both possible places of origin. Aboriginal Americans in North America, such as the Algonquin and Luiseño have used this plant in sacred ceremonies[11].

In the United States the plant is called jimson weed, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers were drugged with it while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. They spent eleven days generally appearing to have gone insane:

The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed. – The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705[12]

Mistaken identity

The plant achieved some notoriety in the press[7][13][14] and other media[15][16][17] during the silly season of 2009 when several stories mistakenly identified it with Devil's Snare, an imaginary plant mentioned in the first of UK author J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. (See Talk Page.)


See also



  1. ^ a b "Datura stramonium information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Malpitte Madness - A report of ten cases". South African Medical Journal. 21 December 1974. pp. 2604–2606. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009. 
  3. ^ Stace, Clive (1997). New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. p. 532. 
  4. ^ "Datura species". Plants Poisonous to Livestock. Cornell University Department of Animal Science. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  5. ^ Culpeper, Nicholas (n.d.; 20th century edition of 1653 publication), Culpeper's Complete Herbal, Slough: W Foulsham & Co Ltd, pp. 368–369, ISBN 0-572 00203 3 
  6. ^ a b c Preissel, Ulrike; Hans-Georg Preissel (2002). Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn Apples. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. pp. 124–125. ISBN 1-55209-598-3. 
  7. ^ a b Mail Online, Pensioner finds deadly tropical plant made famous in Harry Potter book in her back garden 3:24 PM on 24th August 2009.
  8. ^ AJ Giannini,Drugs of Abuse--Second Edition. Los Angeles, Practice Management Information Corporation, pp.48-51. ISBN 1-57066-053-0.
  9. ^ Freye, Enno (2009-09-21). Pharmacology and Abuse of Cocaine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Related Designer Drugs. Springer Netherlands. pp. 217-218. ISBN 978-90-481-2447-3. 
  10. ^ Bontoyan, W; et al (2010-02-05). "Jimsonweed Poisoning Associated with a Homemade Stew – Maryland, 2008". Centers For Disease Control and Prevention – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 59 (4): 102-103. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  11. ^ Davis, Wade. The Serpent and the Rainbow: a Harvard scientist's astonishing journey into the secret societies of Haitian voodoo, zombis and magic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985
  12. ^ Beverley, Robert. "Book II: Of the Natural Product and Conveniencies in Its Unimprov'd State, Before the English Went Thither". The History and Present State of Virginia, In Four Parts (University of North Carolina): pp. Book II Page 24. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  13. ^ [1] Daily Telegraph/Telegraph Online (06 Aug 2009)
  14. ^ [2] Horticulture Week (07 Aug 2009)
  15. ^ [3] Ecoworldly website (11 Aug 2009)
  16. ^ [4] Ananova, quoting the Daily Telegraph
  17. ^ [5] Gryffindor Gazette website, quoting the Daily Mail (25 Aug 2009)

General references

  1. Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 312-313.
  2. Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium) Poisoning From Clinical Toxicology Review Dec 1995, Vol 18 (No 3). Reprinted at

Encyclopædia Britannica 11/ed.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Datura stramonium

  1. (taxonomy) A taxonomic species within the genus Datura — a plant commonly known as thorn apple or jimson weed among others.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Datura stramonium var. stramonium


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids I
Ordo: Solanales
Familia: Solanaceae
Subfamilia: Solanoideae
Genus: Datura
Species: Datura stramonium
Varietas: D. s. var. stramonium - D. s. var. godronii - D. s. var. inermis - D. s. var.  tatula


Datura stramonium L., 1753


  • Carolus Linneaus Species Plantarum 1:179. 1753

Vernacular names

Български: Татул
Česky: Durman obecný
English: Jimson Weed, Moonflower
Español: chamico, miyaye
Nederlands: Doornappel
Русский: Дурман обыкновенный
Shqip: Tatulla
Svenska: Spikklubba
Türkçe: Adi tatula

Simple English

Thorn apple / Jimson weed
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Datura
Species: D. stramonium
Binomial name
Datura stramonium
  • Datura inermis Juss. ex Jacq.
  • Datura stramonium var. chalybea W. D. J. Koch, nom. illeg.
  • Datura stramonium var. tatula (L.) Torr.
  • Datura tatula L.[1]

Datura stramonium, known by the common names, jimson weed, ditch weed, stink weed, loco weed,Korean morning glory, Jamestown weed, thorn apple, angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, devil's snare, devil's seed, mad hatter, crazy tea, malpitte, the Devil's balls, is an erect annual herb, on average 30 to 150 cm (1-5 feet) tall with erect, forking and purple stems. The leaves are large, 7 to 20 cm (3-8 in) long and have irregular teeth

Flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to purple, and 2-7 in long.The fruit are walnut-sized, egg-shaped, and covered in prickles, they split into four chambers, each chamber with dozens of small black seeds

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