Dangerous Chemistry of Jimson Weed – Watch Your Children!

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Jimson Weed
Jimson Weed CCA Share Alike 3.0 by H. Zell

During the months of September and October, the reader may discover a disarmingly beautiful flowering weed.

White to violet trumpets atop a green herbaceous plant, that after fertilization yields spiny seed pods, characterizes Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium) or Jamestown Weed, also called among other things, Locoweed, Hell’s Bells, and Devil’s Trumpet.

All parts of the Jimson Weed contain toxic alkaloids in potentially fatal quantity. These include atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopamine. A dose used for its psychedelic effect is marginally less than a fatal dose. Hence, there have been many hospitalizations and deaths resulting from its use.

Jimson Weed – Druggery

Jimson Weed
Seed pod. Image by Nova CCA 3.0 Unported

Some smoke Jimson Weed thinking to do so results in an elevating religious experience. Some favor the alkaloid-rich seeds. Others consider partaking of these falls under the heading druggery (Greek: pharmakeia), exposing one to potential involvement with demonic spirits. Characteristically bizarre behavior results from the use of Datura in this way. Doubtless, there are reasons other than consumption for its existence.

Is Your’s a Flower Child?

The primary danger for our children lies with the flowers. These represent the greatest danger. Why so? Most children are familiar with the Japanese Honeysuckle. They pick the white or golden flowers and pull the little string at the base of the flower, which produces a tiny bead of liquid or nectar. That droplet is sweet and desirable to the taste.

Looking upon the Jimson Weed flower in the same way as Honeysuckle, a child may partake of the liquid found at the base of the flower, consuming the poison in quantity sufficient to become deathly ill and die! It is the drink of death. If you discover Jimson Weed grows on your property, it would be wise (if you have young children) to eradicate the “beautiful” weed.

Note: You might also enjoy The Chocolate Alkaloid Theobromine


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2 thoughts on “Dangerous Chemistry of Jimson Weed – Watch Your Children!

  • Yes, some garden centers sell them as ornamental plants because they can grow so large. Another plant that should not be planted where young children (or cattle) are near, is Laburnum. It’s a tree with beautiful yellow cascades of flowers. The seeds look like peas in a pod – but fatal.

    • Interesting. Funny thing is, I’ve heard the word Laburnum, but could not think what is was, so I looked it up. Funny I don’t recall actually ever seeing a specimen. Curious about the toxicity. Perhaps not quite as deadly as Jimson weed.

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