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

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!

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2 Responses

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