The Dangerous Jimsonweed Plant

by AngelaJohnson

Jimsonweed is from the potato or nightshade family and is also called Thorn Apple, Downy Thornapple, Devil's Trumpet, Angel's Trumpet, Mad Apple, Stink Weed, and Tolguacha.

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) grows throughout the U.S. and Canada except in extremely cold places. Its seeds can lie dormant underground for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed. All parts of the plant are poisonous, although humans are poisoned more often than animals.

Photo by author. Jimsonweed plants found in east Tennessee.

About the Jimsonweed Plant

a mature jimsonweed plantJimsonweed grows along roadsides, in fields and pastures, waste areas, alleys and ditches, and even in parks and gardens.

Jimsonweed grows about 3 feet tall, although it can grow
taller if the soil is rich. The leaves are from 4 to 6 inches long. The flower is white, shaped sort of like a trumpet, and about 4 inches in diameter when completely open. The flowers bloom in late spring and nearly all summer.

There’s a strong sweet odor when you mash the leaves or pull up the plant. I don’t mind the smell, but some people don’t like it.

When the flower dies, a green egg-shaped seed pod with sharp spines emerges. The seed pod turns brown when it’s ripe, and splits open into four sections. The seeds will fall out when the wind blows. Birds and animals don’t usually eat the seeds. 

Photo by author.

Are Animals Poisoned by Jimsonweed?

cattle grazing in fieldJimsonweed is poisonous to animals, but they don't often eat it because of its strong smell and unpleasant taste.

Most cases of livestock poisoning happen after the animals have eaten hay containing dried parts of the plant. Be sure to remove jimsonweed from fields where the grass is cut for hay.

Jimsonweed poisoning symptoms in animals can include anorexia, tremors, nervousness, excitability, tremors, inability to stand, altered motion, bloat, and reduced drinking.

Getting Rid of Jimsonweed -- Inspect your grazing or hay fields while the grass is still short. You can easily pull jimsonweed by hand if it hasn't grown too tall. You can also hoe it out or use a plow. If the plants are wide-spread and you decide to use chemical herbicides, be aware that the herbicides will probably be sprayed on nearby grasses and also settle into the ground.  Make sure you remove the dead weeds or they will still be raked up and baled when the hay is cut later in the season. 

Photo by author.

Jimsonweed Poisoning in Humans

jimsonweed with flowers

Sometimes small children will pick the flowers and taste them, or put the seeds in their mouth.  

Adults might pick the leaves and cook them, thinking they are edible greens.

Jimsonweed is often used by teenagers for its hallucinogenic effect. 

The effects of jimsonweed poisoning are unpredictable because they vary from plant to plant, from the soil type, the amount of rainfall, and other growing conditions.  Symptoms can begin within 30 minutes and may continue as along as 48 hours. 

Symptoms of Jimson Weed Poisoning

 ~~ Little to no urine production (urine retention)

~~ Blurred vision, dilated pupils

~~ Red Skin

~~ Dry mouth, thirst

~~ Nausea, vomiting

~~ Elevated blood pressure

~~ Rapid pulse

~~ Convulsions

~~ Delirium, dizziness

~~ Hallucinations

~~ Headache

~~ Fever

~~ Coma, but rarely death


The National Poison Control Center 

You can call The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. Experts in poisoning will talk to you in confidence and advise you. This is a free service and all local poison control centers in the U.S. use this national number. Call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention; it doesn't have to be an emergency


How well you respond to medical treatment depends on the amount of poison taken and how quickly treatment is started.


The Dangers of Jimson Weed (video)

Jimsonweed Poisoning From a Homemade Stew

Not All Wild Plants are Edible

cooking greens on the stoveOn July 9, 2008, six family members ate a meal of homemade bread and stew. Later, another relative arrived and found everyone laughing, but also complaining of hallucinations, dizziness, and thirst. The relative called for emergency help and all six were taken to the hospital and admitted; five of them to the intensive-care unit.

All of the family members had to stay in the hospital for several days. The patient who ate the most stew was the slowest to recover.

On July 10, the public health investigators went to the home to examine the leftover stew. In the trash, they found plant material which they identified as jimsonweed. 

When the investigators were able to interview the person who made the stew, he told them it had mostly potatoes but also some curry powder, tomato, onion, garlic and leaves from two plants that were growing wild in the back yard. One of the plants was mint, but he didn't know what the other plant was.

This is the danger of cooking wild plants without being able to identify them and knowing if they're safe to eat.

Jimsonweed poisoning is hard to diagnose when the affected person can't communicate properly. This family was lucky because food poisoning was suspected when the entire family became sick.

The complete article from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) goes into more detail of the symptoms and treatment for jimson weed poisoning.  This is a good article for parents, teachers, and health care providers to read.

 Photo by HorsePunchKid on Flickr.

Jimsonweed With Green Seed Pods

Jimsonweed with green seed pods
Jimsonweed with green seed pods
Jimsonweed leaves
Jimsonweed leaves
Updated: 04/28/2017, AngelaJohnson
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AngelaJohnson on 07/20/2018

According to Wikipedia, "In the United States, the plant is called "jimsonweed", or more rarely "Jamestown weed"; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers consumed it while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion." You can read a little more at

DerdriuMarriner on 07/16/2018

AngelaJohnson, Thank you for the practical information and the product line. Why is it called "jimson" weed?

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