Datura spp.



Devils Trumpet; Angels Trumpet; Thornapple.

(HIGHLY TOXIC!)

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Datura spp.

Botanical information

Datura stramonium: An annual plant, it grows to a height of 2m with a spread of 1.5m. The stem is round, stout, erect, yellowish green and branching; the leaves are alternate, petioled, oval to elliptical, acuminate, with broadly serrate margins, and dark green above, with a greyish green undersurface; the flowers are large, white, funnelshaped and 8cm long, appearing in summer and autumn; the fruit are large, spiny, ovate capsules, containing numerous, dark brown seeds. A native of the Caspian Sea region, it is adaptable to most soils and positions, and is drought and frost resistant. Extended tropical rain is likely to cause fungal problems and root-rot.

Propagation is by seed, sown 5-10mm deep into slightly moist, very well-drained seeding mix. Germination is greatly assisted by applying bottom heat. High humidity may cause seedlings to rot, limiting the usefulness of propagation domes. Should germinate in a few weeks.


Datura metel: (syn D.fastuosa, D.chlorantha, D.alba) An annual plant, it grows to a height of 0.8m with a spread of 0.8m. The stem is round, stout, erect, yellowish green to purple, and branching; the leaves are alternate, petioled, oval to elliptical, acuminate, with broadly serrate margins, light green to dark green with purple tinge; the flowers are large, funnelshaped and 8cm long, appearing in summer and autumn. Flowercolour ranges from white to bright yellow and deep purple. Petals can be single, double, or filled (triple); the fruit are large, round capsules with a bumpy surface. They containing numerous, light brown seeds.

Origin is obscure. It may have originated in asia, but documentation is poor. Initial accurate documentation of this species starts in the New World. It is adaptable to most soils and positions, and is drought and frost resistant. Extended tropical rain is likely to cause fungal problems and root-rot.

Propagation is by seed, sown into very well draining and sandy soil.


Traditional uses

Ritual use of Datura stramonium is as widespread as the plant itself. In Mexico it is used exchangeably with Datura innoxia as a visonary plant. Either a brew is made from the leaves, or the seeds are chewed and swallowed. Men will consume 27 (=3 X 9) seeds, while women only take 21 (=3 X 7). Unlike other visionary rituals this one can be performed in the daylight. In NorthAmerica, the leaves of Datura stramonium were mainly consumed as a smoking herb in mixtures of Kinnickinnick. In Europe it is mostly associated with witches salves and -brews. Seeds were used to fortify beer in many countries.

It is a very effective medicinal plant. As a poultice it can relieve rheumatism and muscle pains, smoked it will relieve asthma, and water extracts used externally may relieve migraines and headaches.


Pharmacology

The whole plant contains tropane alkaloids. Leaves may contain between 0.25 and 0.5% alkaloids, flowers or seeds up to 0.6% and the root between 0.18 and 0.22%. The main alkaloids are l-hyoscyamine and l-scopolamine.

Datura stramonium v.TATULA contains mostly hyoscyamine, but also small amounts of withanolide (see Withania somnifera) and cumarine.

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