Almost Jimsonweed

A Datura but not Datura stramonium
A Datura but not Datura stramonium

I was excited and a little scared when I found this plant on my walk through the neighborhood. It looked a lot like Jimsonweed (locoweed), a plant discussed in Natural Attraction. My mind was racing with the possibilities–a poisoner lived here! As many know, Jimsonweed can be a killer with ingestion being either recreational or accidental. Jimsonweed seeds contain the toxic tropane alkaloids atropine and scopolamine. These chemicals are similar to cocaine and can also be found in hedge bindweed. Jimsonweed poisoning symptoms are said to render the victim “blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as a beet, hot as a hare, dry as a bone, the bowel and bladder lose their tone, and the heart runs alone.” Users can have hallucinations and trouble urinating (along with extreme thirst). Many deaths come from mistakes in judgement, lack of coordination, and recklessness following ingestion. Kidney failure can occur.  The toxins can be absorbed through the skin, but poisoning is more likely if they are ingested.The high is said to be not fun at all.

The plant in the photograph is not Jimsonweed. Upon closer inspection, it’s a relative known as Moonflower. Some gardeners are enthusiastic about this plant, but it’s poisonous too. Like Jimson weed, it’s a Datura. Since I already had an incident with a dog and a poisonous plant, I’ll walk on by when it comes to this Datura. That’s what the plant is saying by even making such a poison.

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