Jimson Weed: A beneficial beauty with toxicity

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Jimson weed is a member of the family Solanaceae. The family is known as the deadly nightshade family. Yes, you get it right! The name tells everything. All the species of this plant are toxic in nature. Even, the seeds and the flowers are more poisonous than the plant. However, people have been using it as medicine in Ayurveda and also in the formulation of many traditional medicines. The indigenous people and many cultures considered the plant as sacred and used it in religious rituals.

In this article, I will enlighten you about this very toxic plant including its types, characteristics, methods of cultivation, maintenance procedures, etc.

Jimson Weed: Variations & Individual Characteristics

Jimson Weed Variations & Individual CharacteristicsJimson weed is one of the many species of Datura. Various species of this family have some various characteristics and features that make the variations easily recognizable. In this section, I am going to introduce the different varieties of jimson weeds and their general characteristics. Following are some of the common and popular variations of Jimson weed.

Datura wrightii (Southwestern Thorn Apple)

Datura wrightiiDatura Wrightii or Southwestern thorn apple has many other names like Sacred Thorn-apple, Thorn-apple, Angel Trumpet, and Sacred Datura. It is a part of the Solanaceae family. However it is perennial in the mild-winter areas, but annual in the other areas. It can grow up to 2 to 4 feet tall and its branches frequently. The smooth stems have a greyish green color. The sizes of the alternate leaves are 6 inches long and 4 inches across.

On the other hand, the white flowers are about 5-7 inches long and 3-4 inches across. The corolla has barely perceptible five shallow lobes. Mid-summer to fall is the blooming period, and it lasts for about 1-2 months. You will often see the flowers blooming in the day.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Wrightii

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol dawr2
USDA Native Status L48 (N), PR (N), VI (I)
Native Habitat Floodplains throughout Texas
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 3 to 6 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time May, June, July, August, September, October, November
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun, Part shade
Moisture of the soil Dry
Description of the soil Sandy, Sandy Loam, Clay, Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Acid-based, Calcareous

Common Uses

Datura Wrightii or Southwestern Thorn Apple has a lot of uses from ornamental to medicinal. Following are some of the uses of this plant.

Ornamental Uses

This plant is showy. So, you can use it for perennial garden, Bog or pond area.

Medicinal Uses

The Datura Wrightii has some medicinal benefits too. Indigenous people like the Aztecs used it as a healing agent.

Other Uses

These species have some narcotic properties too. The indigenous people knew them since before the recorded history. People of southwestern India used this species as an important figure in the religious ceremonies.

Datura Stramonium (The Real Jimson weed)

Datura Stramonium is about 3 to 5 ft tall and its branches dichotomously. The stems have a green and purple color, and they are usually hairless. On the other hand, the young ones have some conspicuous hairs. The alternate leaves can grow up to 8 inches long and 6 inches across. The lobes are pinnate. They are shallow and pointed at their tips. Usually, each side of the leaf blade has 2-3 of these lobes.

Mid-summer to early fall is the blooming period, and it lasts for about 1-2 months. You will often see the flowers blooming in the midnight and closing in the early morning.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Stramonium

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DAST
USDA Native Status CAN   I, L48   I, HI   I, PR   I, VI   I
Native Habitat North America
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 3 to 5 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time May, June, July, August, September, October, November
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun, Part shade
Moisture of the soil Dry
Description of the soil Sandy, Sandy Loam, Clay, Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Acid-based, Calcareous

Common Uses

Datura Stramonium has a lot of uses from spiritual to medicinal. Following are some of the uses of this plant.

Medicinal Uses

The Datura Stramonium has some medicinal benefits too. In Ayurveda, people use it to treat asthma symptoms. The Zuni people used it as a painkiller while they were setting the broken bones. In China, it was a form of anesthesia, and they used it during surgery.

Spiritual Uses

The indigenous people or the ancient inhabitants of America used Datura Stramonium in many of their sacred ceremonies. They used it for their hallucinating properties to ‘commune with deities through visions.’

Other Uses

These species have some narcotic properties too. People smoke their leaves in a cigarette or in a pipe. An English physician named James Anderson learned the practice from the indigenous people and made it popular in Europe. He was the Physician General of the East India Company during the late 18th century.

Datura Metaloides (Sacred Datura)

Datura MetaloidesDatura Metaloides is perennial, and it can grow up to 3ft. tall. It also can spread of 4 to 5ft. Despite getting weedy, it can be a good patio plant.

Spring to late summer is the blooming period for Datura Metaloides. The flowers have a trumpet shape, and they are white in color. They are 8 inches long and 5 inches across. The flowers are very fragrant.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Metaloides

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DAIN2
USDA Native Status CAN   W, HI   I, L48   I, PB   I, PR   I, VI   I
Native Habitat North America
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 3 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb/ Forb, Shrub
Duration Annual, Perennial
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time Spring to late summer
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun, Part shade
Moisture of the soil Moist
Description of the soil Well-drained fertile soil

Common Uses

Datura Metaloides has some uses like the ornamental use.

Ornamental Uses

You can enjoy the fragrant blooms in the evening by keeping them in a container on a patio. They can also create a strong focal point in the garden. In addition, the flowers and the exotic foliage can bring a tropical flavor to your landscape.

Datura Inoxia (Toloache)

Datura InoxiaWe usually know Datura Inoxia as angel’s trumpet. It is tender perennial and short-lived, shrubby, sprawling. Datura Inoxia grows as an annual. It can grow up to 2 to 3ft. tall and 3 to 6ft. wide.

Datura Inoxia has dark green leaves, and they are ovate, wavy-margined. They are 8 inches long. The colors of the flowers are pink to lavender. The blooming period is mid-summer to frost. They are 7 inches long and 4 inches wide and have a sweetly overpowering fragrance.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Inoxia

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DAIN2
USDA Native Status CAN   W, HI   I, L48   I, PB   I, PR   I, VI   I
Native Habitat Central America, Texas, Colombia
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 2 to 3 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb/ Forb, Shrub
Duration Annual
Fruit Showy
Bloom Information
Bloom time July to frost.
Bloom color Pink to lavender
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Full Sun
Moisture of the soil Moist
Description of the soil Well-drained fertile soil

Common Uses

Datura Inoxia has a lot of uses from ornamental to medicinal. Following are some of the uses of this plant.

Medicinal Uses

The Datura Inoxia has some medicinal benefits too. The Aztecs used it as the pain reliever. But, due to toxicity and other hallucinating properties, they also warned against the madness and ‘various and vain imagings.’

Ornamental Uses

Many people use Datura Inoxia as an ornamental plant for their attractive large leaves and large white flowers. However, recently many consider this plant as an invasive species.

Datura Discolor (Moon Flower)

Datura DiscolorDatura Discolor or the desert thorn-apple is an herbaceous annual plant. This upright plant or low-lying shrub can grow up to 4.5ft. The foliage is light green, and the stalks have conspicuous purple stripes. The leaves have an ovate shape, and they can be whole or toothed.

The flowers are corolla white with a purple throat.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Discolor

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DADI2
USDA Native Status L48 N
Native Habitat The Sonoran Desert of western North America
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 1.6 to 4.5 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time Spring to fall
Bloom color White to purple
Growing Conditions
Water use low
Light Requirement Sun
Moisture of the soil Dry
Description of the soil Sandy, gravelly soils, washes

Common Uses

Datura Discolor is extremely toxic. All parts of the plant have a mix of alkaloids, and that can be lethal if ingested.

Datura ceratocaula

Datura ceratocaulaDatura ceratocaula is a weed-like plant. It grows as an annual. The stalks have a curve like an animal horn. They are gray-green in color and can grow up to 1 to 3 ft. The leaves have an undulated-ovate shape. In addition, they have hairs on the underside.

June to September is their blooming period. The large funnel-shaped flowers are white in color and have a blue cast on the outside and white to pink in the inside.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura ceratocaula

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DACE
USDA Native Status L48 I
Native Habitat Mexico
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 1 to 3 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb/ Forb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time June to September
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use low
Light Requirement Sun
Moisture of the soil Swamp and moist
Description of the soil Shallow water or swampland

Common Uses

People mainly use Datura ceratocaula as an ornamental plant for their garden and yards.

Datura Ferox (Long Spined Thorn-Apple)

Datura FeroxDatura Ferox grows as an annual, and it can grow up to 1.6 to 5 ft. The stems are usually hairless, or they can have short and soft hair. Datura ferox branches frequently. The leaves have a broadly ovate to rounded-triangular shape. They are 3 to 5 inches long and 2 to 6 inches wide.

The white colored flowers are 1.5 to 2.3 ft. tall and they have 5 lobes.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Ferox

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DAQU
USDA Native Status L48 N
Native Habitat China
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 1.6 to 5 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb/ Forb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time Summer until autumn
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun
Moisture of the soil Moist
Description of the soil Warm and nitrogen-rich soil, light

Common Uses

All parts of Datura Ferox contain a dangerous amount of tropane alkaloids and may be lethal if ingested.

Datura Leichhardtii (Leichhardt’s Datura)

Datura LeichhardtiiDatura Leichhardtii grows as a stout annual herb. They are glabrous or sparsely pubescent and have non-glandular hairs. They grow in a bush and can grow up to 1.5 to 3 ft. tall.

Datura Leichhardtii has inconspicuous yellowish-white flowers.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Leichhardtii

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DALE5
USDA Native Status None
Native Habitat Mexico, Guatemala
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 1.5 to 3 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb/ Forb
Duration Annual
Fruit
Bloom Information
Bloom time June to October
Bloom color White
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun
Moisture of the soil Moist
Description of the soil

Common Uses

All parts of Datura Leichhardtii contain a dangerous amount of poisons and may be lethal if ingested. The flowers of this plant have no ornamental value.

Datura quercifolia (Oak-Leaf Thorn-Apple)

Datura quercifolia or the Oak-Leaf Thorn-Apple is a small shrub. Many know this plant as Chinese thorn-apple. It can grow up to 3ft. The leaves are green and pinnately lobed.

May to October is the blooming period for this plant. The flowers are white or light blue, and it fades toward purple with age.

Characteristics and other facts on Datura Quercifolia

General Facts
Family Solanaceae
USDA Symbol DAQU
USDA Native Status L48 N
Native Habitat Mexico, Southwestern United States
Plant Characteristics
Size of the plant 1 to 3 ft
Breeding System Flowers Bisexual
Leaf arrangement Alternate
Habit Herb
Duration Annual
Fruit Green, Spinny
Bloom Information
Bloom time May to October
Bloom color White, Blue, Purple
Growing Conditions
Water use Average
Light Requirement Sun, Partly shade
Moisture of the soil Moist or dry
Description of the soil Light sandy soil

Common Uses

Datura quercifolia is a very toxic plant and the flowers also doesn’t have any ornamental value.

Cultivation of Jimson Weed

The cultivation method of Datura Stramonium is super easy. Just find a well-drained location and plant in the full sun. To cultivate Jimson Weed, you need to look after the facts like climate condition, soil preparation, watering, control of diseases and pests, propagation, etc. Following I am going to talk about these topics elaborately.

Climate Condition

Although Datura Stramonium or jimson weed can grow in many habitats, they do prefer some certain conditions. These species are very fond of sunlight, and they thrive in a drier condition or climate. They have an ability to proliferate so well that they almost can grow anywhere.

The ambient temperature for Jimson Weed is 21° C or 70° F. To maintain the humidity you need to cover the seed tray with a sheet of glass, or clingfilm.

Soil preparation

Jimson weed can flourish in most moderately good soils; but well-drained, rich calcareous, good sandy loam, leaf mould added soil are the best. However, they can tolerate various types of soil.

In the early stages, you need to keep the soil free from weeds. However, you don’t need to bother for the later periods as Datura Stramonium is so umbrageous and so strong. If the condition or the climate is too hot, then mulching of rotted cow-manure will be helpful.

Watering

While in the establishing time you need to water it up regularly. Since they have a long taproot, they will seek water deeply into the soil after being matured. Then you don’t require watering them frequently.

Control of diseases and pests

Pests usually don’t bother this plant and neither the diseases. However, pests like whiteflies, spider mites, and mealy bugs can attack Jimson weed.

Propagation

It will be best to pre-soak the seeds for twelve hours in warm water before sowing them. You can sow the seeds in situ, or in the nursery seedbed. It will take 14 to 30 days for germination. If you are sowing seeds in a nursery, then you need to transplant the seedlings into the final position when they are 8 to 12 cm tall.

Uses of Datura Stramonium

Datura StramoniumBesides the ornamental uses, this plant comes into use for various purposes. The leaves and the seeds of Datura Stramonium have some particular uses. In spite of the poisonous features, this species has some medicinal benefits too.

Use of the seeds

Over the years the indigenous people had been using the Jimson weed seeds for various treatments. Following are some of the well-known uses of the seeds.

  • Works as the pain reliever.
  • In Ayurveda, they use it for asthma and bone setting.
  • Works as an antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, hypnotic, and narcotic drug.
  • Used in the treatment of fistulas and abscesses externally.
  • Has a huge amount of hyoscyamine and atropine to use it as a mind-altering drug.
  • Seed oil extract is useful for treating baldness and stimulating the growth of the hair.

Uses of the leaves

The leaves of the Datura Stramonium have some benefits too. Following are some of the uses or benefits of the leaves.

  • The leaves can relieve a headache.
  • To relieve arthritis such as rheumatism and gout, the vapor of these leaves infusion is useful.
  • The smoke of the burning leaf can treat asthma and bronchitis.
  • The ethanol extract of jimson Weeds leaves useful as acaricidal, repellent and oviposition deterrent properties against mites, larva, and mosquito.
  • Useful in treating heart problems like palpitations and hypertension.

Medicinal Uses

People have been using Datura Stramonium as medicine for longer periods of time. Recently the FDA has recognized its medicinal uses. Since it has chemical compounds like scopolamine and atropine; it can be helpful in medicinal uses. Following are some of the medicinal uses of Datura Stramonium.

Flying Ointment

Medieval witches of Europe used flying ointments so that they can get the ability to fly. It is a very complex drug, and many plants like hemlock, henbane, wolfsbane, and some nightshade family plants are its components. They used to apply the ointment to the soles of the feet, vagina, and armpits.

Nerve Diseases

Ancient people used Jimson weed as medicine for nerve diseases.

Ayahuasca brew

The shamans used it to make ayahuasca brew. Only 2-3 leaves could serve 30-40 people.

Smoking blends

Ancient and indigenous people also used the smoking blends of this plant as smoke as they are not ruthless and can burn easier.

A cough

The antiasthmatic properties of Datura Stramonium can cure a cough.

Respiratory problems

British soldiers used it to treat their respiratory problems as I have said earlier that Datura Stramonium contains both scopolamine and atropine. They may be helpful in curing nausea, dizziness or motion sickness.

Bone setting (Analgesic)

For bone settings, the Zuni used Datura Stramonium as an analgesic. On the other hand, the Chinese made it their anesthetic drug for surgery.

Hallucination and Euphoria

The chemical compounds like hyoscyamine, atropine, or scopolamine of Datura Stramonium can cause hallucinations and elevated mood or euphoria.

Therapeutic applications

Both the atropine and scopolamine have some interesting pharmacological actions. Therefore, it can be so useful in therapeutic applications. Many believe that Datura Stramonium has the ability to make ‘unsound minds sane and sane minds mad.’ So, it may be an ideal drug for psychotherapeutic effort.

Jimson weed has hyoscine in it. In the past, people used it with morphine to reduce the childbirth pain. It took the mother to a semi-conscious situation that helps her to forget the delivery pain afterwards.

Traditional uses and social effects

Jimson weed or Datura Stramonium is so famous throughout the history for its toxicity and mind-altering properties. As a matter of fact, it has its references in Homer’s Odyssey, and Shakespeare plays. The origin of the name Jimson weed has a painfully interesting story. In 1676, some of the Jamestown settlers of America ate Datura Stramonium, and that took them to near death. That’s how the name came, and they started using it as sedative medicine.

In India, the extract of Datura metel is known as Hindu Datura. In ancient time, they used it as knockout drops on virgins to lure them into prostitution. Prostitutes also used it on their clients. Indians in Columbia utilized other varieties of Datura for infanticide.

This plant caused severely crippling effects on the Roman army in Asia Minor when they accidentally ate datura.

Accidental exposures like “Gardener’s Mydriasis” and “Cornpicker’s Pupil” on gardeners are very common. The teen also misuses this plant by eating the seeds, drink tea or smoking cigarettes made of this for their narcotic properties.

This plant was also very popular in witchcraft. The practitioners used this plant to take their victims in Trans like states.

Side effects

Like any other herb, it is essential to consult with a professional before taking or using it as medicine. In addition, Datura Stramonium is highly toxic and poisonous. So, you need to be very careful before proceeding with this plant.

If you are taking Jimson weed or Datura Stramonium by mouth or inhaling it, then probably it’s not safe. This plant is very poisonous and can lead to very lethal effect. Toxic effects such as dry mouth and extreme thirst, nausea and vomiting, vision problems, fast heart rate, high temperature, seizures, hallucinations, confusion, loss of consciousness, and breathing problems are very common side effects. In fact, the lethal effect is very much on the card as a side effect.

One very important thing is that even a small amount of Datura Stramonium can be lethal for children. In addition, a pregnant and breastfeeding mother should never take it by mouth or inhale.

Symptoms of the side effects

The side effects of taking Datura Stramonium may show the following symptoms.

  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Ataxia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dryness of skin and mouth
  • Combativeness or hyperactivity
  • Fever
  • Amnesia
  • Flush
  • Rapid pulse
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Elevated blood pressure
The actual effects

The toxic side effects of the jimson weed can exhibit some fatal effects along with the symptoms. Following are some of them:

CHF or Congestive heart failure

Datura Stramonium can cause rapid heartbeat and can take it to congestive heart failure or CHF.

Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome

Datura Stramonium can cause dangerous side effects to people with Down syndrome or trisomy 21.

Seizures

If you are suffering from frequent seizures, then you should not take Datura Stramonium or jimson weed. Taking Datura Stramonium may cause seizures.

Slowing down the stomach

Datura Stramonium may make the esophageal reflux worse since it hampers the stomach emptying process. Sometimes the food and liquid in the stomach leak backwards into the tube that links the stomach and mouth. This process is known as esophageal reflux. Jimson weed also slows down the pressure in the bottom of the esophagus so the contents of the stomach will try to go up.By delaying the stomach emptying process, it can make the ulcers worse.

Worsen the fever

Datura Stramonium can make the fever worse and can lead to a very bad condition.

Glaucoma

In glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye increases and can cause blindness. Datura Stramonium can make the situation worse by increasing the pressure inside the eye.

Bowel disorder

Taking Datura Stramonium can make any bowel disorder worse. Bowel disorders like toxic megacolon, obstructive digestive tract disorders, atony, paralytic ileus, stenosis, and ulcerative colitis can turn into a fatal one because of this plant.

Urinary Retention

Datura Stramonium may cause difficulty in passing urine or can make the urinary retention condition worse.

Interactions

Datura Stramonium contains chemicals like atropine and scopolamine that may cause a drying effect. Drying medications also have those properties. Drying medications or anticholinergic drugs can cause the same effects. Taking drying medications and jimson weed together can side effects like dizziness, dry skin, fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, and other serious effects.In addition, medications for allergies and depression can interact with Datura Stramonium.

Recommended dosage

There is no conclusive scientific data that may determine the appropriate range of doses for jimson weed. In addition, the appropriate doses may vary on many factors like user’s health, age, and several other conditions. However, natural products are relevantly safe, but still, the dosage is important. Consult with your physician or pharmacist before using.

Conclusion

Jimson weed is something like a double-edged sword. You can’t ignore its medicinal benefits or the ornamental value. On the other hand, misuse or uncontrolled use can take you to a fatal condition. However, application of this plant with proper knowledge and in a controlled way can make it very useful in our daily life. And, this article is all about that knowledge on Jimson weed. Happy reading!

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