Common Names: Jimsonweed, thornapple, purple trumpet, Devil's snare, hell's bells, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, devil’s cucumber
A foul-smelling, erect, annual, freely branching herb that forms a bush up to 60 to 150 cm tall. The root is long, thick, fibrous and white. The stem is stout, erect, leafy, smooth, and pale yellow-green. The stem forks off repeatedly into branches, and each fork forms a leaf and a single, erect flower. The leaves are about 8 to 20 cm long, smooth, toothed, soft, and irregularly undulated. The upper surface of the leaves is a darker green, and the bottom is a light green. The fragrant flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 6 to 9 cm long, and grow on short stems from either the axils of the leaves or the places where the branches fork. The calyx is long and tubular, swollen at the bottom, and sharply angled, surmounted by five sharp teeth. The corolla, which is folded and only partially open, is white, funnel-shaped, and has prominent ribs. The flowers open at night, emitting a pleasant fragrance. The egg-shaped seed capsule is 3 to 8 cm in diameter and either covered with spines or bald. At maturity, it splits into four chambers, each with dozens of small, black seeds.
Found in waste areas, along the edge of beaches, roadsides, flower gardens, and other places where weeds occur. Blooms in summer.
Edible Notes: Poisonous.
Warnings: All parts of the plant, especially the seeds and leaves, are poisonous and 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 active ingredients are the Tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. 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. Datura stramonium was used as a mystical sacrament in both possible places of origin, North America and South Asia. In Hinduism, Lord Shiva was known to smoke Datura. People still provide the small green fruit of Datura during festivals and special days as offerings in Shiva temples. Aboriginal Americans in North America, such as the Algonquin and Luiseno have used this plant in sacred ceremonies. 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.