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20 October 2010

Datura stramonium


The following extract is from this website:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura_stramonium

"Datura stramonium, known by the common names jimson weed, devil's trumpet, devil's weed, thorn apple, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, datura, moonflower and, in South Africa, malpitte and mad seeds, is a common weed in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family.

It is an erect annual herb forming a bush up to 3–5 ft (1–1.5 m) tall.  The leaves are soft, irregularly undulate, and toothed. The fragrant flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 2.5 to 3.5 in. long. They rarely open completely. The egg-shaped seed capsule is walnut-sized and either covered with spines or bald. At maturity it splits into four chambers, each with dozens of small black seeds.

Parts of the plant, especially the seeds and leaves, are 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 genus name is derived from dhatura, an ancient Hindu word for a plant. Stramonium is originally from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and maniakos (mad).

The native range of Datura stramonium is unclear. It was scientifically described and named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753, although it was earlier described by many herbalists such as Nicholas Culpeper. Today, it grows wild in all the world's warm and moderate regions, where it is found along roadsides and in dung heaps.  In Europe, it is found as a weed on wastelands and in garbage dumps.


The seed is thought to be carried by birds and spread in their droppings. It can lie dormant underground for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed. People who discover it growing in their gardens, and are worried about its toxicity, have been advised to dig it up or have it otherwise removed.

All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets. In some places it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants.
The active ingredients are the Tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths, are reported from recreational use.


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. The antidote of choice for overdose or poisoning is physostigmine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported accidental poisoning resulting in hospitalization for a family of six who inadvertently ingested Jimsomweed used as an ingredient in stew.
 









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