devil's trumpets, moonflowers, Jimsonweed, devil's weed, hell's bells, thorn-apple
Facts & Folkore:
All species of Datura are poisonous, especially their seeds and flowers.
The name Datura is taken from Hindi धतूरा dhatūra 'thorn-apple'. Record of this name in English dates back to 1662. Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to one type in The Scarlet Letter as apple-Peru.
All Datura plants contain tropane alkaloids such as scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine, primarily in their seeds and flowers. Because of the presence of these substances, Datura has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison.
Daturas are a striking garden flower with some species (Moonflower) blooming only at night, making them a popular addition to the a Moon Garden. Known as poisonous, they have, however, been used for centuries as medicine and are have been occasionally purposely ingested to experience their hallucinogenic affects. Symptoms of datura poisoning include delirium, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate, abnormal behavior, dilated pupils, painful sensitivity to light. Those who survive often report amnesia of the event, or that it was a horrible experience.
Datura has been used in historical witchcraft recipes for loves spells, bindings, curses, and flying ointment.
According to legend, around 70 BCE, Mark Anthony ate of this weed and became remarkably detached from reality and seemed to go mad for an extended period.
In much more recent history, one account from the United States is reported from 1676 in Jamestown, Virginia, where a British troop was detached to quiet a riot. While on their way to this situation, the soldiers happened to snack on some of the Datura plant. Those that did so, entered running through the town, crazed, and had to be tended to for about twelve days. We should note that, after this account, one of the familiar names given this plant was Jamestown Weed later changed or shortened to Jimson Weed.
Click or hover over image.