Sunday, August 19, 2012

Datura stramonium (Locoweed, aka Jimson Weed)
"Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Asterids Order: Solanales Family: Solanaceae Genus: Datura Species: D. stramonium Binomial name Datura stramonium L. Synonyms Datura inermis Juss. ex Jacq. Datura stramonium var. chalybea W. D. J. Koch, nom. illeg. Datura stramonium var. tatula (L.) Torr. Datura tatula L.,[1] Datura stramonium, known by the common names Jimson weed or datura is a plant in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, which is believed to have originated in the Americas, but is now found around the world.[1] For centuries, datura has been used as an herbal medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bonesetting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen and deliriant, which is used spiritually for the intense visions it produces. However the tropane alkaloids which are responsible for both the medicinal and hallucinogenic properties are fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage, and careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths."
"Jamestown weed is known by many names: jimson weed, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, hell’s bells, locoweed, stinkweed, and pricklyburr are just a few. Its current name “jimson” is a contraction of “Jamestown”, where its history in the New World begins. What is Jamestown weed? This small, poisonous bush had long been used medicinally, criminally, and for recreational purposes throughout the world, long before the settlers at Jamestown came across it. It was used by thieves in India and Russia, where they used a mixture of ground up seeds and water to incapacitate and then rob their unsuspecting victims. A religious cult in India used it to murder people, and the plant was used as a poison in Renaissance Europe. Jamestown Weed’s Colorful Past Jamestown weed is not native to Virginia and is believed to have been brought in soil from the West Indies or Asia. It took hold there and settlers in the Jamestown area reported illness after consuming the leaves. Then in 1676, English soldiers were sent to Jamestown to squelch the Rebellion of Bacon. Apparently, Jamestown weed was boiled and added to a salad that the soldiers consumed. Whether this was accident or by design is unknown. However, the story was included in a book written by Robert Beverly in 1705. In his book, Beverly recounted that the soldiers presented “a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days”. The soldiers were apparently suffering from hallucinations, disabling them completely from any part in the rebellion. It took 11 days for the soldiers to recover and they suffered from amnesia and remembered nothing about their time under the influence of the jimson weed. Jamestown weed has been used throughout history for all types of reasons: good and bad. But the story of the poisoned soldiers is certainly an interesting footnote in its colorful past. Jimson Weed, aka Jamestown Weed, is a popular art subject best known by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe. Jimson weed is admittedly to be admired for its beauty as well."
Datura stramonium here pictured behind the barn. Beautiful but deadly? Or on the edge? Text above from the web (Wikipedia plus).