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Beware of Jimsonweed

Crop and Soil Environmental News, June 1997

Ozzie Abaye
Extension Specialist

Recently, I received a phone call from Lewis-Gail Hospital in Salem, regarding Jimsonweed seed. Although in Extension we are always faced with questions we do not expect, I found this particular one of a great interest. Two teenagers had consumed a great deal of jimsonweed to get "high" and ended up in the intensive care unit fighting for their lives. I was asked to identify the seed extracted out of the kids' systems. It was clearly Jimsonweed seed.

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is in the Nightshade family - Solonaceae It is an annual that reproduces by seed. It has a fibrous root system, and is bushy plant with branched, smooth stems growing 1 to 5 ft. Jimsonweed is found in waste areas along streams, gardens, pastures and sometimes cultivated fields. Jimsonweed is a poisonous plant.

Toxicity. The principle toxins in Jimsonweed are Hyoscyamine, atropine and other alkaloids. The entire plant is considered poisonous, green or dry. However, the seeds are particularly poisonous. Dried plants mixed in hay can be toxic. All types of livestock can be poisoned, but most reported poisonings occur with cattle. Animals usually do not eat this plant when other forages are available.

Symptom Early symptom, weak and rapid pulse and heartbeat.

Treatment. The treatment is non-specific, thus weeds should be destroyed in order to prevent problems.


- characteristic leaf shape very angular
- distinctive rank odor
- flower large, funnel-shaped (trumpet like) white to pinkish, borne singly on short stalk in the axils of branches
- seed pod egg-shaped, covered with short, sharp spines
- look for spiny capsules

- kidney-shaped; is slightly wrinkled; similar to velvetleaf but not as deeply lobed- dull brown to black

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