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Datura stramonium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Thornapple flowers exhibit a charming blend of delicate petals in hues ranging from soft pinks to vibrant purples. Resilient and elegant, these blooms showcase a unique beauty that flourishes amidst the coastal landscape. The sandy soil provides a nurturing environment, allowing the Thornapple to thrive and present a captivating display of nature's artistry, creating a serene and visually enchanting experience for onlookers.
Thorn-apple fruits are small, spherical, and possess a tough, prickly exterior. The fruit's skin, resembling miniature thorns, gives it its distinctive appearance. Beneath the protective outer layer lies a fleshy interior, often white or pale yellow, housing the seeds. While the fruits are not typically consumed due to their bitter taste, they contribute to the overall charm of the Thorn-apple plant.
The leaves of the Thorn-apple plant are characterized by their deep green color and distinctively serrated edges. The leaves are typically large and have a lobed or ovate shape, contributing to the overall lush appearance of the plant. Their surface may have a slightly textured feel, and the leaves are arranged in an alternating pattern along the stems. The foliage plays a crucial role in the Thorn-apple's overall aesthetic, providing a verdant backdrop to the delicate and captivating blooms that grace this coastal landscape.
The fragrance of the Thorn-apple plant, also known as Datura, is particularly enchanting, especially during the evening hours. Its large, night-blooming flowers emit a sweet and intoxicating scent that wafts through the air, attracting nocturnal pollinators like moths. This fragrant allure, coupled with the plant's distinctive appearance, makes it a popular choice for gardens and landscapes, adding an element of mystery and beauty to the nighttime garden experience.
Other Names:
Datura, Devil's Cucumber, Devil's Snare, Devil's Trumpet, Devil's Weed, False Castor Oil Plant, Hell's Bells, Jamestown Weed, Jimson Weed, Jimsonweed, Locoweed, Moon Flower, Pricklyburr, Stinkweed, Tolguacha.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Datura stramonium, also known as jimsonweed or devil's trumpet, is a highly toxic annual or short-lived perennial plant that is native to North America, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world. It is typically found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields, and waste places. The plant has large leaves and produces large, white or pale purple trumpet-shaped flowers. All parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and roots, are highly toxic and can cause a range of symptoms such as hallucinations, delirium, and even death if ingested. Datura stramonium has been used traditionally for medicinal and spiritual purposes, but it should only be used under the guidance of a qualified professional because of its toxicity.


Thorn-apple, also known as Datura stramonium, is a highly toxic plant that has been used for centuries for both medicinal and spiritual purposes. This plant, which belongs to the family Solanaceae, is native to the Americas, but is now widely distributed throughout the world.

The plant is characterized by its large, white or pale yellow trumpet-shaped flowers, and its spiny seed capsules. The leaves and stems of the plant contain high levels of dangerous alkaloids, including scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine. These alkaloids are known for their toxic effects on the human body, and can cause hallucinations, delirium, and even death in high doses.

Despite its toxic properties, Datura stramonium has a long history of use in traditional medicine. In low doses, the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments, including asthma, coughs, and indigestion. However, its use as a medicine has largely fallen out of favor due to its high toxicity and potential for overdose.

In addition to its use in medicine, Datura stramonium has also been used for spiritual and religious purposes by a number of different cultures throughout history. The plant was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans in sacred rituals, and was believed to have the ability to bring the user into contact with the spirit world. It was also used by some indigenous American cultures as a sacrament in shamanistic rituals.

Despite its historical significance, the use of Datura stramonium for spiritual or medicinal purposes is highly discouraged due to its toxic nature. The plant should only be handled by trained professionals and should never be consumed by individuals who are not knowledgeable about its effects and potential dangers.

Thorn-apple, or Datura stramonium, is a highly toxic plant with a long history of use in both medicine and spiritual practices. However, due to its high toxicity and potential for overdose, its use for these purposes is not recommended and should only be carried out by trained professionals.

It is important to note that the plant can have unpredictable effects on individuals and can vary greatly based on factors such as age, weight, and tolerance levels. Ingesting even small amounts of the plant can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms, including hallucinations, delirium, and confusion. In some cases, it can also cause heart problems, seizures, and death.

Given its high toxicity, it is essential to take precautions when handling Datura stramonium. It is advised to never consume the plant, as even small doses can have dangerous consequences. Additionally, it is important to be aware of its potentially toxic effects when in proximity to the plant, as it can release dangerous alkaloids into the air.

Despite its dangers, Datura stramonium remains a fascinating plant with a rich history of use in both traditional medicine and spiritual practices. However, it is important to approach the plant with caution and respect its potential dangers, as it can have serious and potentially deadly consequences for those who are not properly informed about its effects.

Datura stramonium is a highly toxic plant that should be approached with caution and handled only by trained professionals. Its use for medicinal or spiritual purposes is not recommended due to its dangerous effects and potential for overdose. By taking the necessary precautions and understanding its potential dangers, individuals can protect themselves from the harmful effects of this fascinating but dangerous plant.

It is also worth mentioning that Datura stramonium is considered a noxious weed in many areas and is classified as an invasive species in some regions. This is due to its ability to quickly spread and outcompete native plant species, leading to a reduction in biodiversity in affected areas.

Control methods for Datura stramonium vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the local environment, but may include manual removal, chemical control, and the introduction of natural predators. In many cases, early detection and prompt action is key to effectively controlling and mitigating the spread of this invasive species.

In addition to its status as a noxious weed, Datura stramonium is also of concern from a conservation perspective. In some regions, populations of the plant have declined due to over-harvesting and habitat loss, leading to a reduction in the availability of this historically significant species.

To ensure the survival of Datura stramonium and protect against the spread of invasive populations, it is important to adopt sustainable harvesting practices and take steps to preserve its natural habitats. Additionally, education and outreach programs aimed at informing the public about the dangers of this toxic plant and promoting its responsible use can help to mitigate its negative impact on both people and the environment.

In conclusion, Datura stramonium is not only a highly toxic plant with a rich history of use in both medicine and spiritual practices, but it is also a significant conservation concern due to its invasive nature and potential impact on local ecosystems. By taking a responsible and sustainable approach to its use and management, we can protect both people and the environment from the negative effects of this fascinating and potentially dangerous plant.

30 Facts About Thorn-apple

Thorn-apple, also known as Datura, is a genus of flowering plants that includes several species known for their toxic properties and ornamental flowers. Here are 30 facts about the Thorn-apple plant:
  1. Scientific Name: Datura is the genus name, and there are various species, including Datura stramonium and Datura inoxia.
  2. Common Names: Thorn-apple, jimsonweed, devil's trumpet, and moonflower are some of its common names.
  3. Geographic Distribution: Thorn-apple plants are found in many parts of the world, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  4. Toxicity: Thorn-apple plants contain tropane alkaloids, including atropine and scopolamine, which can be toxic if ingested.
  5. Medicinal Uses: Despite its toxicity, some indigenous cultures have used Thorn-apple for its hallucinogenic and medicinal properties.
  6. Hallucinogenic Properties: Some individuals have used Thorn-apple for its hallucinogenic effects, but this is dangerous and illegal in many places.
  7. Historical Use: Native Americans have a history of using Thorn-apple for its hallucinogenic properties in religious ceremonies.
  8. Ornamental Plant: Some species of Thorn-apple are grown as ornamental plants for their large, trumpet-shaped, and fragrant flowers.
  9. Flower Color: The flowers of Thorn-apple plants can be white, yellow, or purple, depending on the species.
  10. Night-Blooming: Many Thorn-apple species are known for their night-blooming flowers, which are pollinated by moths.
  11. Fast Growth: Thorn-apple plants are fast-growing annuals or short-lived perennials.
  12. Large Leaves: The leaves are large, typically ovate or lobed, with irregular, toothed margins.
  13. Spiky Seedpods: The plant produces spiky, round seedpods, which are characteristic of the genus.
  14. Invasive Species: Some Thorn-apple species are considered invasive in certain regions.
  15. Weedy Habit: Thorn-apple can be a weedy plant and often pops up in disturbed areas and along roadsides.
  16. Naturalized: In many places, Thorn-apple has become naturalized and can be found growing wild.
  17. Height: Depending on the species, Thorn-apple plants can grow from 1 to 5 feet in height.
  18. Medicinal Traditions: In some traditional medicine systems, Thorn-apple has been used for asthma and other respiratory conditions, but this is not recommended due to its toxicity.
  19. Toxic Parts: All parts of the Thorn-apple plant, including leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots, contain toxic alkaloids.
  20. Poisoning Symptoms: Ingesting Thorn-apple can cause a range of symptoms, including hallucinations, delirium, fever, rapid heart rate, and in severe cases, coma or death.
  21. Traditional Smoking Mixtures: In some cultures, Thorn-apple leaves were used in smoking mixtures, but this is extremely dangerous.
  22. Anticholinergic Effects: The alkaloids in Thorn-apple plants have strong anticholinergic effects and can affect the nervous system.
  23. Seed Dispersal: The spiky seedpods of Thorn-apple help in seed dispersal by sticking to the fur of animals or clothing.
  24. Cultural Significance: Thorn-apple has been used in various cultural and religious rituals, often associated with visionary experiences.
  25. Cultivation: Some Thorn-apple species can be cultivated for their ornamental value, but they should be handled with caution due to their toxicity.
  26. Nighttime Fragrance: The flowers of Thorn-apple often emit a sweet and intoxicating fragrance, especially at night.
  27. Insect Attraction: The flowers attract nocturnal pollinators like moths and night-feeding insects.
  28. Legal Status: Many regions have regulations regarding the cultivation and sale of Thorn-apple due to its toxic nature.
  29. Folklore and Myths: Thorn-apple plants have been the subject of various myths and folklore, often associated with mystery and danger.
  30. Hybrid Varieties: Some hybrid varieties of Thorn-apple have been developed for their ornamental value, featuring unique flower colors and shapes.

While Thorn-apple plants have a fascinating history and cultural significance, it's essential to approach them with caution due to their toxic nature. Ingesting any part of the plant can lead to severe health issues or even death.


Thorn-apple filmed at Formby, Lancashire on the 29th October 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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