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Native to Illinois, Jimson Weed is highly toxic and in season

Posted: July 6th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Jimson Weed, (scientific name Datura stramonium) is a toxic  plant found all over Illinois.  Some of its other common names include devil’s trumpet, thorn apple,  Jamestown weed, stinkweed, and  locoweed.

This plant grows throughout Illinois, either wild or as part of a planned landscape.  It has a beautiful flower that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe to paint some of her most ambitious works.

Jimson Weed however, contains anticholinergic compounds which cause a classic toxidrome “red as a beet, dry as a bone, blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, and hot as a hare”.  Ingestion of parts of the plant can cause delirium (inability to differentiate reality from fantasy), hallucinations, elevated temperature, flushed skin, fast heart rate,  and agitation (bizarre, and possibly violent behavior).  The changes in mental status can last for days in cases of severe intoxication.

All parts of the plant can be considered toxic, but the leaves, juices and seeds can cause the most effects.  The plant is a perennial blooming plant; the leaves and flowers bloom in the spring and summer and the seeds set in the late summer and fall.

Now is time of year for potential intoxication with the leaves and flowers; fortunately it is a bad tasting plant and large ingestions of raw leaves and flowers is rare, however cases of ingestion of cooked leaves have been reported.  Jimson Weed is a contraction of Jamestown weed, so named due to the intoxication of British soldiers who were sent to Jamestown to quell Bacon’s rebellion in 1676.  The soldiers were delirious for over a week after consuming a salad made with the boiled leaves of this plant.

In the fall, the seeds set and intentional poisoning due to abuse is occasionally seen in sporadic outbreaks among teenagers.  Intoxication from seeds usually occurs from ingestion of the seeds or making a tea from them.

So please, be careful of the wild flowers in Illinois.  Do not:

  • Make Stew out of Jimson Weed
  • Eat Jimson Weed seeds
  • Drink a tea made from Jimson Weed

This is a dangerous plant and deaths are periodically reported from all over the nation.

If you are interested in seeing some of the effects of Jimson Weed, check out this Inside Edition You Tube video!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u12SZAyMp54

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2 Comments on “Native to Illinois, Jimson Weed is highly toxic and in season”

  1. 1 Illinois Poison Center Blog » Blog Archive » Toxic landscaping and the ubiquitous Yew said at 11:52 am on July 13th, 2010:

    […] to this plant in the 12 years that I have been associated with the Illinois Poison Center.  Since last week’s blog was on poisonous plants, it seems like a good idea to continue that theme as this is a busy time of year for gardening and […]

  2. 2 Illinois Poison Center Blog » Blog Archive » Watch Out for Those Scary Berries! said at 12:45 pm on July 20th, 2010:

    […] also develop symptoms which are described as anticholinergic, this syndrome is described as being red as a beet, hot as a hare, blind as bat, dry as a bone and mad as a hatter. This means the victim may have red flushed and warm skin, large (dilated) pupils, dry mouth and […]


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