Jimsonweed, Thorn apple, Mad apple, Moonflower, Stinkwort
FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME
Datura stamonium L.
FAMILY NAME COMMON
FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME
Synonyms: Datura tatula L.
Datura stramonium is an herbaceous annual that grows from 0.3-1.5 m (1-5 ft.) tall. A single-stemmed plant can grow to cover an area up to 3 m (9.8 ft.) in diameter. The green to purplish stems of this plant are stout and hollow. The ovate to subovate leaves have long, stout petioles, a coarsely serrate margin, measure 5-20 cm (2-8 in.) long and are acuminate at their tips. The leaves have an unpleasant scent when crushed or bruised.
The axillary, trumpet-shaped flowers of Datura stramonium have white to light purple corollas that measure from 7 to 10 cm (2.75-4 in.) in length and have five teeth along their margins. The calyxes are fused and measure from 3 to 5 cm (1-2 in.) in length. The flowers appear on the plant from June to August. The seed capsules of this plant are located at the forks between branches. They are ovoid in shape, 3-5 cm (1-2 in.) long and are covered in prickles. When mature, the capsules split open into four segments. They contain dark, wrinkled seeds. These seeds and all other parts of the plant are poisonous. The dried capsules often remain on the plant throughout the winter.
Page References Bailey 876, Fernald 1260, Gleason & Cronquist 406, Holmgren 383, Magee & Ahles 908, Newcomb 214, Peterson & McKenny 12. See reference section below for full citations.
The seeds of Datura stamonium are dispersed mechanically. The capsules, as well as the seeds, are able to float, which may aid the long-distance dispersal of this plant. They can be moved around on farm machinery and have also been spread as a contaminant of hay.
There is some debate as to the origin of Datura stramonium. Some report it as native to Central America, Mexico or the southern part of the United States. Fernald (1950) and others, however, report it as native to Asia. In the United States it has been reported from every state but Alaska, including all the states of New England.
HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND
This plant is known to have been in Virginia as early as 1676. It was at Jamestown, Virginia that a group of British soldiers accidentally ate the plant and were affected by its hallucinogenic properties. It is not known, however, if the plant was native to Virginia, or if it was being moved around by the early European settlers. Fernald (1950) reported it from Massachusetts to Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is likely that this plant made its way to the more northern states of New England by contaminated agricultural crops or perhaps intentional introduction.
HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND
Abandoned Field, Agricultural Field, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Roadside, Vacant Lot, Yard or Garden. Datura stramonium is most often found in situations where it has full sun, such as agricultural fields, roadsides and waste grounds. It also forms dense stands along coastal beaches.
Datura stramonium can be found in abundance in fields. It seems to pose a more immediate threat to agricultural fields and pastures. This plant is highly poisonous to both animals and humans and is considered a noxious weed in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan and Colorado.
Documentation required: Habit shot with fruits or flowers. Best time for documentation: Summer, fall, winter
Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Taxonomic information about the species
The PLANTS database - General information and map
Cornell University Poisonous Plants Information Database Description, and poisonous properties of this plant
Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide Images and description
Wildflowers of the Southeastern U.S. General information, history and description
University of California - IPM Images and description
Eurobodalla Shire Council (Australia) Description of D. stramonium
Bailey, L. H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York.
Benvenuti, S., M. Macchia and A. Stefani. 1994. Effects of shade on reproduction and some morphological-characteristics of Abutilon theophrasti Medicus, Datura stramonium L. and Sorghum halepense L. Pers. Weed Research 34 (4): 283-288.
Benvenuti, S. 1995. Soil light penetration and dormancy of jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) seeds. Weed Science 43 (3): 389-393.
Benvenuti, S. and M. Macchia. 1997. Light environment, phytochrome and germination of Datura stramonium L. seeds. Environmental and Experimental Botany 38 (1): 61-71.
Cavero, J., C. Zaragoza, L. Bastiaans, M.L. Suso and A. Pardo. 2000. The relevance of morphological plasticity in the simulation of competition between maize and Datura stramonium. Weed Research 40 (2): 163-180.
Dias, A.S. and L.S. Dias. 2000. Effects of drought on allelopathic activity of Datura stramonium L. Allelopathy Journal 7 (2): 273-277.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition. American Book Company, New York.
Fornoni, J. and J. Nunez-Farfan. 2000. Evolutionary ecology of Datura stramonium: Genetic variation and costs for tolerance to defoliation. Evolution 54 (3): 789-797.
Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York
Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Holm, L.G., J.V. Pancho, J.P. Herberger, and D.L. Plucknett. 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.
Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.
Newcomb, N. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little Brown, Boston.
Nunez-Farfan, J. and R. Dirzo. 1994. Evolutionary ecology of Datura stramonium L. in central Mexico - natural-selection for resistance to herbivorous insects. Evolution 48 (2): 423-436.
Nunez-Farfan, J., R.A. CabralesVargas and R. Dirzo. 1996. Mating system consequences on resistance to herbivory and life history traits in Datura stramonium. American Journal of Botany 83 (8): 1041-1049.
Peterson, R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Scott G.H., S.D. Askew, J.W. Wilcut and C. Brownie. 2000. Datura stramonium interference and seed rain in Gossypium hirsutum. Weed Science 48 (5): 613-617.
Shonle, I. and J. Bergelson. 2000. Evolutionary ecology of the tropane alkaloids of Datura stramonium L. (Solanaceae). Evolution 54 (3): 778-788.
USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Valverde, P.L., J. Fornoni and J. Nunez-Farfan. 2001. Defensive role of leaf trichomes in resistance to herbivorous insects in Datura stramonium. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14 (3): 424-432.
Weaver, S.E. and S.I. Warwick. (1984) The biology of Canadian weeds. 6. Datura stramonium L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 54, 687-701.