There are only eight species of tropical annuals or short-lived perennials in this genus, since the shrubby species are now included in Brugmansia. All daturas have a long local history of medicinal and ritual use, and several species are grown as ornamentals for their large, often scented, trumpet-shaped flowers. They are extremely poisonous, containing tropane alkaloids similar to those of Atropa bella-donna (See, deadly nightshade) and Hyoscyamus niger (See, henbane). Alkaloids are extracted from several species, including D. inoxia syn. D. meteloides and D. metel. The name Datura derives from dhât, the Hindi word for these plants, which were used as a poison by thuggi (bands of robbers and assassins in India) to subdue their victims. Datura stramonium is commonly known as jimsonweed, a corruption of Jamestown weed, recalling an incident in Virginia in 1676 when soldiers became delirious for 11 days after cooking and eating the leaves as a vegetable. Western jimsonweed or toloache (D. inoxia) is a thornless, downy plant with similar narcotic properties. It was used as an anesthetic during surgery by medicine men of various tribes, including the Zuñi and Navaho.

A native of India, and a member of the potato or nightshade family, jimson weed is believed to be named after Jamestown, Virginia, where it was first brought from England. Jimson weed is toxic and contains the alkaloids atropine and scopolamine, psychoactive substances that some people consume to get a high. These alkaloids are also used in pharmaceutical preparations to treat Parkinson's disease, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, bronchial asthma, and motion sickness.

Bushy annual with unpleasant-smelling, elliptic to ovate leaves, to 18cm (7in) long. White, funnel-shaped flowers, to 5cm (2in) wide, appear in summer, followed by spiny, ovoid capsules containing black seeds.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Datura, Devil's Apple, Jamestown Weed, Nightshade, Stinkweed, Thorn apple
Botanical Name:
Datura stramonium syn. D inermis
Native Location:
N and S America
Rich, light soil in sun. Subject to statuatory control as a weed, notably in some parts of Australia.
By seed sown in spring at 16°C (61°F)
Leaves and flowering tops are collected in summer, and seeds in autumn, for commercial extraction of alkaloids or use in anti-asthmatic smoking mixtures, liquid extracts, powders, and tinctures.
F. inermis
Has smooth, thornless fruits.
2m (6ft)
1.2m (4ft)
Frost hardy
Parts Used:
Leaves, flowering tops, seeds.
A bitter, narcotic herb that relaxes spasms, relieves pain, and encourages healing.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for asthma and Parkinson's disease. Excess causes giddiness, dry mouth, hallucinations, and coma. Externally for fistulas, abscesses, and severe neuralgia. For use by professional practitioners only.
To treat asthma, convulsive cough, high temperatures, pain and rheumatism.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of jimson weed may range from 0.05 to 0.1 gm of the stabilized leaf powder, taken up to three times a day.
Possible Side Effects:
Jimson weed's side effects include drying of the mucous membranes, extreme thirst, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and auditory and visual hallucinations. Jimson weed is highly toxic, and is considered very dangerous to inhale the smoke or put the leaf or seed in the mouth.
Drug Interactions:
Taking jimson weed with these drugs may increase the risk of anticholinergic effects (such as blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, light-headedness, and urinary problems):
Amantadine, (Symmetral)
Amitriptyline, (Elavil, Levate)
Amitriptyline and Chlordiazepoxide, (Limbitrol)
Amitriptyline and Perphenazine, (Etrafon, Triavil)
Amoxapine, (Asendin)
Atropine, (Isopto Atropine, SalTropine)
Benztropine, (Apo-Benztropine, Cogentin)
Clidinium and Chlordiazepoxide, (Apo-Chlorax, Librax)
Clomipramine, (Anafranil, Novo-Clopramine)
Cyclobenzaprine, (Flexeril, Novo-Cycloprine)
Cyclopentolate, (Cyclogyl, Cylate)
Desipramine, (Alti-Desipramine, Norpramin)
Dicyclomine, (Bentyl, Lomine)
Diphenhydramine, (Benadryl Allergy, Nytol)
Doxepin, (Sinequan, Zonalon)
Fluphenazine, (Modecate, Prolixin)
Glycopyrrolate, (Robinul, Robinul Forte)
Haloperidol, (Haldol, Novo-Peridol)
Homatropine, (Isopto Homatropine)
Hyoscyamine, (Hyosine, Levsin)
Hyoscyamine, Atropine, Scopolamine and Phenobarbital, (Donnatal, Donnatal Extentabs)
Imipramine, (Apo-Imipramine, Tofranil)
Ipratropium, (Atrovent, Nu-Ipratropium)
Iproniazid, (Marsilid)
Lofepramine, (Feprapax, Gamanil)
Loratadine, (Alavert, Claritin)
Melitracen, (Dixeran)
Moclobemide, (Alti-Moclobemide, Nu-Moclobemide)
Nortriptyline, (Aventyl HCl, Pamelor)
Oxitropium, (Oxivent, Tersigat)
Phenelzine, (Nardil)
Prifinium, (Padrin, Riabel)
Prochlorperazine, (Compazine, Compro)
Procyclidine, (Kemadrin, Procyclid)
Propantheline, (Propanthel)
Protriptyline, (Vivactil)
Scopolamine, (Scopace, Transderm Scop)
Selegiline, (Eldepryl)
Tiotropium, (Spiriva)
Tolterodine, (Detrol, Detrol LA)
Tranylcypromine, (Parnate)
Trihexyphenidyl, (Artane)
Trimethobenzamide, (Tigan)
Trimipramine, (Apo-Trimip, Surmontil)
Taking jimson weed with these drugs may decrease the action of the drug:
Chlorpromazine, (Largactil, Thorazine)
Fluphenazine, (Modecate, Prolixin)
Mesoridazine, (Serentil)
Perphenazine, (Apo-Perphenazine, Trilafon)
Prochlorperazine, (Compazine, Compro)
Promethazine, (Phenergan)
Thiethylperazine, (Torecan)
Thioridazine, (Mellaril)
Thiothixene, (Navane)
Trifluoperazine, (Novo-Trifluzine, Stelazine)
Toxic if eaten
This herb and its alkaloids are subject to legal restrictions in some countries.
Disease Effects:
The hyoscyamine and scopolamine found in the herb may trigger rapid heart rate and worsen fever, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), congestive heart failure, urinary retention, constipation, narrow-angle glaucoma, stomach ulcers, and diseases involving obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 190-191
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.288-290