Jimson Weed

Datura stramonium L.

Pharmacopceial name,�Stramonium.

Other common names: Jamestown weed (from which the name "jimson weed " is derived), Jamestown lily, thorn apple, devil's apple, mad-apple, apple of Peru, stinkweed, stinkwort, devil's-trum-pet, fireweed, dewtry.

Habitat and range: This is a very common weed in fields and waste places almost everywhere in the United States except in the North and West. It is widely scattered in nearly all warm countries.

Description: Jimson weed is an ill-scented, poisonous annual belonging to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Its stout, yellowish-green stems are about 2 to 5 feet high, much forked, and leat'y with large, thin, wavy-toothed leaves. The leaves are from 3 to 8 inches long, thin, smooth, pointed at the top and usually narrowed at the base, somewhat lobed or irregularly toothed and waved, veiny, the upper surface dark green, while the lower surface is a lighter green. The flowers are large (about 3 inches in length), white, funnel shaped, rather showy, and with a pronounced odor.

Jimson weed is in flower from about May to September, and the seed pods which follow are dry, oval, prickly capsules, about as large as a horse-chestnut, which upon ripening burst open into four valves containing numerous black, wrinkled, kidney-shaped seeds, which are poisonous.

Collection, prices, and uses: The leaves of the jimson weed, yielding, when assayed by the United States Pharmacopoeia process, not less than 0.35 per cent of its alkaloids, are official under the name "Stramonium." They are collected at the time jimson weed is in flower, the entire plant being cut or pulled up and the leaves stripped and carefully dried in the shade. They have an unpleasant, narcotic odor and a bitter, nauseous taste. Drying diminishes the disagreeable odor. The collector may receive from 2 to 5 cents a pound for the leaves.

The leaves, which are poisonous, cause dilation of the pupil of the eye and also have narcotic, antispasmodic, anodyne, and diuretic properties. In asthma they are frequently employed in the form of cigarettes, which are smoked, or the fumes are inhaled.

The seeds are also used in medicine.


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