Jimson Weed

Jimson Weed, Jamestown Weed, Thornapple, Loco weed, Devil’s Weed, etc. These are all but a few names given to Datura Stramonium, who’s history is embedded with mystical and religious acts.

Growing up to 3–5 ft tall, The leaves are soft, and toothed. When Crushed, the leaves give off a strong peanut butter like smell. In fact, During classes, I often describe it as the peanut butter plant to students. Curiously, As I quiz them back throughout the day, many don’t remember the name of the plant, but do remember peanut butter plant and that it is poisonous. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 2.5 to 3.5 in. long.  The egg-shaped seed capsule is walnut-sized and either covered with spines or bald. The spines are the reason it is called thornapple.

All parts of the plant are poisonous and may be fatal if ingested by humans, or animals. The toxic ingredients in Jimson Weed are the Tropane belladonna alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics.

Datura intoxication typically produces delirium, elevated body temperature, causes the heart to beat fast, bizarre, and possibly violent behavior. It causes extreme sensitivity to light, because the pupils Dilate so much. This painful condition can last several days. Amnesia has also been known to occur.

History

According to Wikipedia:

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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. Although lay devotees smoke marijuana as a devotional practice during religious festivals like Shivaratri (the Night of Shiva), they do not smoke Datura, whose effects can be unpredictable and sometimes fatal.

Aboriginal Americans in North America, such as the Algonquin and Luiseño 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.

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Jimson Weed

Christopher Nyerges often recounts a personal experience with this plant. Some years ago, while fighting a bad case asthma, Christopher attempted to smoke just a tiny bit of this plant— an attempt to open up bronchial passages. He says within minutes, he proceeded to almost fall over backwards and blackout from the intense reaction he had to the plant… He never tried that again

During  a visit to Camp Pendleton, one time, some friends shared with me a case where some young Marines needed medical attention, because they tried to get a cheap high with this plant that runs rampant on base.

Fortunately, medical treatment is available for anyone falling prey to this plant.