Range: Southern Texas through Central America, introduced nearly worldwide
Known by many names, including jimsonweed, devil’s snare, devil’s trumpet, and thorn apple, this pretty but toxic member of the Solanaceae family is thought to have originated in the new world, likely Central America, but is now invasive or naturalized in many parts of the world. Mature plants can reach nearly 150 cm tall (though can often be kept much smaller), moderately branching with a thin indumentum and alternating leaves up to 20 cm long with a velvety texture and distinctly toothed edges. Coloration varies from entirely leafy green to sometimes purplish in the stems. At the end of each branch develops a single pedicel and star saucer-shaped calyx with a papery tubular extension, inside which develops the corolla or fused petals that can be up to on average 10 cm in length. The flower will open roughly funnel-shaped, flaring out more in the distal half and each of the five sections with a filamentous tip. Color is nearly always pure white, sometimes slightly yellow-tinted. Seedpods are only a few centimeters in diameter, covered in rigid thorns, and release numerous black seeds once mature and dried. This species can be distinguished from its relatives such as D. inoxia and D. metel by the presence of heavily toothed leaves (former), spines on the fruits (latter), and the small, black coloration of the seeds (both).
Cultivation: Grow in a rich but well-draining, preferably slightly alkaline soil, kept moist but preferably not wet and never fully allowing to dry out, and with temperatures of 45-105°F throughout the growing season. Sow seeds just below the soil surface, and grow in partial to full sun.
Lifespan and reproduction: perennial in subtropical to tropical areas, annual anywhere that may experience frost. Reproduces through seeds, though may possibly be grown through stem or root cuttings.
This plant should be grown with caution if small children or animals are around. All parts contain powerful alkaloid toxins capable of causing hallucinations, vomiting, and other symptoms if ingested due to the presence of atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. If uneaten, it is generally harmless, though plants may release unpleasant odors if disturbed or damaged.
Jimsonweed blooms are very mildly fragrant, and open at night to attract hawkmoths and other nocturnal pollinators. Some cultures use it for medicinal purposes, but the value of this is unverified by medical practitioners.
Side view of Datura stramonium flower, with the heavily toothed leaves and a new bud developing at the flower base.