Australia > All Weeds > Downy Thornapple

Downy Thornapple

Datura inoxia

Origin: Native from the USA (Texas) to Bolivia in South America, and to the West Indies


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Seed pods. Image by oceandesetoiles

Family: Solanaceae.

Known Hazards: All members of this genus contain narcotics and are very poisonous, even in small doses.

Habitat: Sandy or gravelly dry open places.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Annual to perennial herb to 1 m high and 2 m wide. Leaves ovate and 6–20 cm long. Capsule globe-shaped, 3–5 cm long.
Flowers:Trumpet-shaped flowers appearing 10-lobed surrounded at base by sepals 5–11 cm long. Flowers summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by dense, erect glandular hairs on stems; flowers white with green veins, 12–19 cm long, stigma well above anthers; capsule with numerous slender spines, all nearly the same length (to 1 cm long), capsule stalk bent sharply downwards; seeds brown, 4–5 mm long.

Dispersal: Spread by seed with some dispersal as cut root pieces.

Confused With: Other Datura species but no others in Australia have capsules on a downward curved stalk, hairy leaves and stems with glandular hairs.

Edible Uses

Fruit - ground up and mixed with clay ( the clay probably has a neutralizing effect on the toxins). A very toxic plant, its use as a food cannot be recommended. The fruit is up to 5cm long and 7cm wide. A stupefying beverage is made from the leaves and roots.

Medicinal Uses

Anodyne; Antispasmodic; Hallucinogenic; Hypnotic; Narcotic. All parts of the plant are anodyne, antispasmodic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic and narcotic. It has been used in the past as a pain killer and also in the treatment of insanity, fevers with catarrh, diarrhoea and skin diseases. The plant contains several alkaloids, the most active of which is scopolamine. This is a potent cholinergic-blocking hallucinogen, which has been used to calm schizoid patients. The leaves contain 0.52% scopolamine, the calices 1.08%, the stems 0.3%, the roots 0.39%, the fruits 0.77%, the capsules 0.33%, the seeds 0.44% and the whole plant 0.52 - 0.62%. Any use of this plant should be with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner since the toxic dose is very close to the medicinal dose.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: Widely distributed weed of disturbed land. A weed of summer crops. All parts of the plant, particularly seeds, are toxic to livestock and humans. Rank smell and bitter taste usually deters stock from grazing plants.



Unopened flower by Alex

image by Alex


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