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Crop and Soil Environmental News, April 2004
A. Ozzie Abaye, Extension Specialist, Alternative Crops
Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences Department
Jimsonweed - (Datura stramonium L.)
- 3 mm long in
- kidney-shaped, with pitted surface, slightly wrinkled, flatened
- similar to velvetleaf seed but not as deeply lobed
- dull dark brown to black
Seed capsule covered with stiff prickles
Leaf shape and arrangement Leaf: Very angular, large, smooth (no hair), thin, wavy, coarsely toothed (jagged lobes) about 3 to 8 inches long, leaf margins resembles those of oak leaves, leaves on long stout petioles
Stolon/rhizome/roots No stolon or rhizome; stem stout, branched and green to purple in color; thick, shallow and extensively branched taproot system
Inflorecence Flowers are large and trumpet or funnel-shaped (tubular), white to pinkish, borne singly on short stalks in the axils of branches, are attractive and fragrant; fruit are a spiny egg-shaped capsule covered with short, sharp spines; when the fruit is ripe the pods burst open splitting into 4 segments and scatter numerous poisonous black, kidney-shaped seeds.
Jimsonweed - (Datura stramonium L., Synonyms:Datura tatula L.)
Other common names: Jamison-weed, jamestown-weed, jamestown lily, thorn-apple, stinkwort, stinkweed, mad-apple, trumpet plant, loco weed, angel's trumpet, devil's, fireweed, dewtry, apple of Peru
Warm-season, summer annual
Distribution and Adaptation
- Native to Asia
- Found almost everywhere in the US. except in the North and West; most common in the south.
- Waste ground and cultivated land, preferring nitrogen-enriched habitats
- Is a member of the nightshade family which includes potatoes and tomatoes.
- Is herbaceous, annual plant that grows up to 3-5 feet tall and even taller in rich soil.
- Reproduce by seed.
- Dead leafless stem with dry seed remains standing in the field.
Use and Potential Problem
- Primarily a weed of agronomic crops but also found in disturbed areas, along roadsides, old fields, pastures, barnyards, hog lots, waste places, and in gardens.
- Jimsonweed is a poisonous plant; all parts of the plant are toxic; however, the seeds, fruit, and leaves contain the highest level of alkaloids and are the usual source of poisoning in humans, cattle, goats, horses, poultry, sheep, and swine. Poisoning of humans in recent years has been more frequent than livestock poisoning. Human poisoning results from sucking the nectar from flowers or consuming the seeds. Due to Jimsonweed's strong unpleasant odor and taste animals avoid grazing it unless other more desirable forage species are not available.
- Alkaloids are related to those found in magic mushrooms, however, magic mushrooms do not cause death even if consumed in a large quantity.
- The plant contains tropane alkaloids, which affects the central nervous system, with the major alkaloids being atropine and scopolamine.
- Symptoms associated with jimsonweed include blurred vision, confusion, agitation, and combative behavior
Did you know?
- Jimsonweed has been used by Native Americans and others for drug-induced ceremonial and spiritual purposes.
- Jimsonweed is also called Jamestown weed for two reasons: for the town in Virginia where jimsonweed is believed to have been imported to the US from England; In 1676 a massive poisoning of soldiers (by eating the plant in salads) in Jamestown, VA occurred, giving rise to the common name "Jamestown weed" and "jimsonweed").
- The seeds and leaves are deliberately used to induce intoxication.
- Atropine, a substance in Jimsonweed has been used in treating Parkinson's disease, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, and bronchial asthma.
- In 1968, the use of Jimsonweed as a hallucinogenic drug prompted the US government to ban over-the-counter sales of products prepared from it.
Cheeke P. R. 1998. Natural Toxicants in Feeds, Forages, and Poisonous Plants. p. 382-383. 2nd. Ed. Interstate Pub. Inc. Danville, Illinois.
Hardin J. W. 1966. Stock-Poisoning Plants of North Carolina. p. 98-99. Bulletin No. 414. Agricultural Experiment Stat. North Carolina State Univ. Raleigh, NC.
Muenscher W. C. 1946. Weeds. p. 406-408. The Macmillan Co. New York, New York.
National Drug Intelligence Center 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001 McLean, VA 22102-3840 http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs/579/#Addresses
Russell A. B., J. W. Hardin, L. Grand, and A. Fraser. 1997. Poisonous Plants of North Carolina; North Carolina State University. Raleigh, NC. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Daturst.htm
South Dakota weeds. 1975. Agric. Ext. Serv. South Dakota State University. Pub. p. 154. South Dakota State Weed Control Commission.
Uva, R. H., J. C. Neal, and J. M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast. p. 312-313. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York.
Virginia Cooperative Extension