Datura, a night-blooming flower sometimes raised in home gardens, is also known as Jimsonweed or Thornapple (Datura stramonium). Jimsonweed is a contraction of Jamestown and is the name that early settlers and British soldiers gave the plants. Thornapple is an appropriate common name because it aptly describes the round, prickly seedpod that develop after the spent flowers fall off the plant. The prickly seedpods prevent animals from eating the toxic seeds.
The contraction of “Jamestown weed” is the origin of the name Jimsonweed. Soldiers and settlers were poisoned after eating the plant’s leaves in salads. Long ago in India and Russia, robbers would grind up the seeds of Jimsonweed and mix them with water as a way to sedate, induce amnesia or daze people they intended to victimize and rob. Members of the ancient Indian religious order that worshipped Kali, the goddess of destruction, would also grind the seeds and feed them to people before robbing and/ murdering them. In China, Jimsonweed was prescribed for the sedative effects, for foot diseases and used for flatulence.
Jimsonweed grows to heights of between 1 and 5 feet. Its leaves’ edges are toothed edges and nearly egg shaped with pointed ends. Their length ranges from 2 to 8 inches. Funnel-shaped flowers are 2-1/2 to 4 inches long and open to a trumpetlike bell in white, violet or lavender. The plant’s fruit is a spiny pod measuring roughly 2 inches in diameter. The seedpods grow as they ripen and the seeds mature. Ripe seedpods burst open, scattering the seeds.
How do I dispose of this plant? We got it from a load of loam that we bought locally in Rhode Island.
Oh…thank you Bobbi…do you know if the moonflower is poisonous also?
This year I had 3 pop up in my flower garden… and one has to be every bit of 2 to 3 feet tall, and covered in pods. Where do they come from, any ideas?
Weed of the Month: Queen Anne’s Lace ›
Every year, I deliberately allow this weed to mature in my wildflower garden. The flower is breathtaking, its fragrance is intoxicating (but not hallucinating, lol), and best of all it attracts the biggest, wildest-looking moth you have ever seen. Definitely makes for an enchanting evening.
I noticed that the Moonflower and the Jimson flower look much the same, however, the leaves are different. Are they the same plant or just cousins and is the Moonflower also poisonous? My grandmother, Mother and I have all raised them in our gardens in Oklahoma and in Montana….
Weed of the Month: Porcelain Berry ›
No plant should be wiped from the Earth. They all have purposes, good ones if not misused or over done.
The genus name Datura comes from the Hindi word for the plant, noteworthy since most botanical names are derived from Latin or Greek. The origins of the plant itself are contested—every source I checked listed a different native origin, ranging from Mexico to India, and it now grows all over the world. Not surprisingly, it has found its way into many cultural and medicinal traditions. Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and Native American shamanistic practices all employ jimson weed medicinally or ritualistically. Its seeds and leaves are used as an antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, hypnotic, and narcotic.
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