Jimsonweed-Nightshade Family


Jamestown weed, thornapple

Datura stramonium


Characteristics.  Jimsonweed is considered a native and is typically found in dryer areas including vacant lots, rangeland and waste areas.  All parts of the plants are toxic resulting in human poisonings every year in the US. The main toxicant is hyoscyamine, a drug used as a sedative and hypnotic.  Datura (thorn-appledowny thorn-appleIndian-applemoonflowersacred daturanacazcul,toloatzintolguache or toloache) is a species in the family Solanaceae. It is native to Central and South America, and introduced in AfricaAsiaAustralia and Europe.

Identfying Characteristics. Datura is an annual shrubby plant that typically reaches a height of 0.6 to 1.5 meters. Its stems and leaves are covered with short and soft grayish hairs, giving the whole plant a grayish appearance. It has ellipticentire-edged leaves with pinnate venation.[1] All parts of the plant emit a foul odor similar to rancid peanut butter when crushed or bruised, although most people find the fragrance of the flowers to be quite pleasant when they bloom at night.

The flowers are whitetrumpet-shaped, 12–19 cm (4.75-7.5 in) long. They first grow upright, and later incline downward. It flowers from early summer until late fall.

The fruit is an egg-shaped spiny capsule, about 5 cm in diameter. It splits open when ripe, dispersing the seeds. Another means of dispersal is by the fruit spines getting caught in the fur of animals, which then carry the fruit far from the mother plant. The seeds have hibernation capabilities, and can last for years in the soil. The seeds, as well as the entirety of this plant, are also hallucinogenic, but have a high probability of overdose.



The flowers are large (3 to 5 inches long), white to purplish in color (depending on variety).  Fruiting bodies are 1 to 2 inches, egg-shaped, fleshy and covered with spine-like structures.



Toxicity. All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans and other animals, including livestock and pets. In some places it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants.

All Datura species contain the highly toxic alkaloidsatropine

hyoscine (scopolamine), and hyoscyamine. According to Hernández, the Aztecs called the planttoloatzin, and used it long before the Spanish conquest of Mexico for many therapeutic purposes, such aspoultices
 for wounds where it acts as an anodyne. Although the Aztecs warned against madness and "various and vain imaginings", many native Americans have used the plant as an entheogen for hallucinations and rites of passage. The alkaloids of these plants are very similar to those of mandrakedeadly nightshade, and henbane, which are also highly poisonous plants used cautiously for effective pain relief in antiquity. Datura intoxication typically produces a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect. There can easily be a 5:1 variation in toxins from plant to plant, and a given plant's toxicity depends on its age, where it is growing, and local weather conditions. These wide variations make Datura exceptionally hazardous to use as a drug. In traditional cultures, users needed to have a great deal of experience and detailed plant knowledge so that no harm resulted from using it.   Such knowledge is not available in modern cultures, so many unfortunate incidents result from ingesting Datura. In the 1990s and 2000s, the United States media contained stories of adolescentsand young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting Datura

It has also been planted throughout the world as an ornamental plant for its attractive large leaves, large white flowers, and distinctive thorny fruit. However, the plant is now considered an invasive species in several locations. For example, because of the similarity of its life cycle to that of cotton, it is a pest in cotton fields. It is also a potential seed contaminant.

Sacred Datura. In Native American tribes of the southwest, as is often the case with tribes elsewhere, in rites of passage, a young person coming of age would fast and pray for days in order to purify himself. In some cases, the initiate might be isolated or left in the wild alone. At the appropriate time, a Medicine person or tribal spiritual elder that would nominally be called by others than Native Americans, a Shaman, might accompany the initiate to a holy place, possibly a mountain top or cave, and a tea would be made from the roots, leaves and even the seeds from the prickly seed pod of a plant called Sacred Datura. The individual would drink this tea and wait for visions, and the initiate would definitely have visions.

Besides those sacred rites of passage, Datura, which is referred to in some cultures as la Yerba Del Diablo, but known to the Chumash people of California, the Mohave, Yuma, Cahuilla, Zuni and others as toloache from the Aztec toloatizn, "to incline the head" (and the person administering the Datura as a tolachero), has been used to hex and to break hexes, to produce sleep and induce dreams, and for protection from evil. It has also been used for divination, to find one's Totem Animal, to allow one to see ghosts, for communing with birds, for long hunts and strength, for sharper vision, for sorcery and to increase supernatural powers as in Aushadhis, the awakening of the supernormal perceptual states through the use of certain drugs and herbs. Like other tropane-containing plants that have been used historically for so called Flying Ointments, Sacred Datura has been used in certain rituals related to inducing the ability to fly through eating or drinking and sometimes an ointment (see). Datura is still widely used in the Caribbean for similar or all of the reasons as well, and called there "herbe aux sorciers" (herb of the sorcerers) among the various French speaking islanders. On the English speaking islands, Jamaica for example, those who practice the spellcraft Obeah are also known to incorporate almost interchangeably with Datura another Nightshade herb they call Branched Calalue.

SACRED DATURA: Nightshade Family [Solanaceae] is found in western Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, southern California, Mexico, and the West Indies and grows within an elevation range between sea level and 6,500 feet. The name Datura, its generic name, is from the Hindu Dhatura (dhat=the eternal essence (of God)), which was derived from the Sanskrit name D'hastura.  Sacred Datura bloom at night starting early evening and typically closing around noon the following day. They are pollinated by nocturnal visitors, usually sphinx or hawk moths.

The tea from Datura is extremely hallucinogenic. The hallucinogenic effects are reported to be stronger than Peyote, Psyillicibin, or LSD. However, Datura is also very toxic and can cause permanent psychosis. Solanaceous plants such as Sacred Datura contain relatively high concentrations of tropane alkaloids, primarily Atropine, Hyoscyamine, and Scopolamine, the primary alkaloid being Scopolamine. It is apparently Scopolamine that produces the hallucinogenic effects. It induces an intoxication followed by narcosis in which hallucinations occur during the transition state between consciousness and sleep.

When Datura is used in a Native American ritual, it is always under the guidance of an individual of certain tribal spritual resolve such as a Medicine person or tribal elder. These experts on the use of the plant know what other plants to add in order to neutralize the harmful effects. They also know how much to administer and when and where to pick the plants, such as age, season, time of year, whether under a full moon or no moon at all. Chemical constituents and levels vary greatly from plant to plant, time of year, and from one area to another just generally, but especially so if the plants are obtained through ritual or from a spot known for having special powers like the Sun Dagger site on Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, holy places of some sort such as Vortexes, or sacred grounds. The plants are very toxic, poisonous and lethal, especially if consumed in quanities unmetered by someone not versed in their safe administration. They can, however, when properly dealt with, produce the end result sought after, and quite adequately so, in the spiritual realm.

Although typically connected with Peyote in the minds of the general public, one of the formost users of Datura was Carlos Castaneda who claimed its use as an apprentice to a Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer named Don Juan Matus that is said to have studied under a Diablero.

In that there are a number of species of Datura there is some confusion as to what Datura Castaneda may have used. According to Castaneda in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge a shaman-sorcerer has an Ally contained in the Datura plants commonly known as jimson weed. Don Juan called that ally by one of the Spanish names of the plant, yerba del diablo (devil's weed), with the ally taking on the form of a sort of plant spirit. According to Don Juan, as he related it to Castaneda, ANY of the species of Datura was the container of the ally. However, the sorcerer had to grow his own patch, not only in the sense that the plants were his private property, but in the sense that they were personally identified with him.

As for the "separate" Daturas, more or less on an official basis --- but not necessarily on a common basis as the names, species and terms are usually intermixed (although it must be said, even plant taxonomist disagree amongst themselves whether D. stramonium and D. inoxia are different species while D. inoxia and D. metaloides are considered alternate names for the same species). Usually, D. stramonium is most often the Datura species referred to as jimson weed, while D. metaloides (also sometimes D. wrightii) is usually applied to Sacred Datura, and D. inoxia is Toloache. Don Juan's own plants belonged to the species inoxia, however there was no correlation between THAT fact and any differences that may have existed between any of the species of datura accessible to him.