Botanical name: Datura
Botanical name: Datura
Thornapples, or thorn apples, are perennials that are cultivated for showy flowers. All the species in this genus have poisonous or dangerous characteristics. As a consequence, they are known in English as devil's trumpets, hell’s bells, or devil's weed. However, some species have been used in religious rituals throughout the world.
Species of Thornapples
Devil's trumpet (Datura metel) is a highly toxic annual species. Devil's trumpet ingestion can cause headaches, hallucinations, coma, and death. In spite of its toxicity, it is sometimes grown as an ornamental flower.
Desert Thorn-Apple (Datura discolor) is an annual wildflower that blooms in spring with showy, white tubular flowers that are up to 15 cm long. Blossoms have a distinctive purple throat. Round, green fruit appears after flowering and turns to brown as it ripens. Plant is toxic and contains tropane alkaloids. Skin contact with the sap may cause irritation.
Western jimson weed
Western jimson weed (Datura wrightii) is a flowering perennial plant in the nightshade family. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental flower due to its good ability to tolerate drought. Western jimson weed is toxic to humans and pets, and could lead to convulsions and coma if ingested. Nevertheless, it was once used by several Native American tribes as part of a rite of passage.
In warmer climates, the downy thorn-apple is an invasive perennial. In colder zones, it’s an annual that can be controlled. It is native to East Africa and is naturalized in China. It is not currently a problem in the United States, but it would become invasive if it were introduced. The reason for this is that the plant will quickly establish itself and spread rapidly. It is cultivated in gardens, but care must be taken to prevent it from overtaking other plants. The weed poses another threat: it is highly toxic to humans and animals. There are not any current bans on the sale, transport, or cultivation of the plant, but it is generally not encouraged.
Commonly called the chinese thorn-apple, the Datura quercifolia is a small shrub grown for its foliage. The entire plant is a narcotic and is poisonous if ingested. Handling the plant can cause a rash.
Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is a species of nightshade plant native to Central America which is considered an invasive species in more temperate climates. It can be toxic if ingested in significant quantities. It has a distinctive, strong smell. The jimsonweed gets its common name from Jamestown, Virginia, where soldiers ingested the plants exhibited altered mental states afterward.