Downy Thornapple

Latin Name: Datura Inoxia

Seed pods. Image by oceandesetoiles Origin: Native from the USA (Texas) to Bolivia in South America, and to the West Indies

Family: Solanaceae.

Known Hazards: All members of this genus contain narcotics and are very poisonous, even in small doses.

Habitat: Sandy or gravelly dry open places.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Annual to perennial herb to 1 m high and 2 m wide. Leaves ovate and 6–20 cm long. Capsule globe-shaped, 3–5 cm long.
Flowers:Trumpet-shaped flowers appearing 10-lobed surrounded at base by sepals 5–11 cm long. Flowers summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by dense, erect glandular hairs on stems; flowers white with green veins, 12–19 cm long, stigma well above anthers; capsule with numerous slender spines, all nearly the same length (to 1 cm long), capsule stalk bent sharply downwards; seeds brown, 4–5 mm long.

Dispersal: Spread by seed with some dispersal as cut root pieces.

Image by Alex

Image by Alex

Confused With: Other Datura species but no others in Australia have capsules on a downward curved stalk, hairy leaves and stems with glandular hairs.

Edible Uses

Fruit – ground up and mixed with clay ( the clay probably has a neutralizing effect on the toxins). A very toxic plant, its use as a food cannot be recommended. The fruit is up to 5cm long and 7cm wide. A stupefying beverage is made from the leaves and roots.

downy

Medicinal Uses

Anodyne; Antispasmodic; Hallucinogenic; Hypnotic; Narcotic. All parts of the plant are anodyne, antispasmodic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic and narcotic. It has been used in the past as a pain killer and also in the treatment of insanity, fevers with catarrh, diarrhoea and skin diseases. The plant contains several alkaloids, the most active of which is scopolamine. This is a potent cholinergic-blocking hallucinogen, which has been used to calm schizoid patients. The leaves contain 0.52% scopolamine, the calices 1.08%, the stems 0.3%, the roots 0.39%, the fruits 0.77%, the capsules 0.33%, the seeds 0.44% and the whole plant 0.52 – 0.62%. Any use of this plant should be with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner since the toxic dose is very close to the medicinal dose.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: Widely distributed weed of disturbed land. A weed of summer crops. All parts of the plant, particularly seeds, are toxic to livestock and humans. Rank smell and bitter taste usually deters stock from grazing plants.

 

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