Jimson weed, or Datura stramonium, is one of the few weeds that can be very dangerous. Not only does it have several different names, with Jimson weed being the most common, but it also has a wide range of mature heights, from one foot tall to six feet tall. The five-pointed flowers can come in white or purple, or a mixture of the two, further increasing problems with identifying this weed. This weed may be pretty to some, but the risk it poses makes weed control a necessity in most cases.
Jimson is a variation of the town Jamestown, where this weed made its debut into American society after poisoning some soldiers who thought it would be an excellent addition to their salad. It can cause mild to severe hallucinations, amnesia, and death, as well as other effects. Other names for Jimson weed include thorn apple, mad apple, angel tulip, moonflower, devil’s trumpet, and stinkweed, among others. This weed grows anywhere it is warm for at least part of the year. It is not picky about soil type and competes very fiercely with other plants for nutrients and water.
Toxicity Levels are High in Jimson Weed
Sometimes this weed is sold by individuals touting it as an herbal remedy. It has been used by people in India for centuries, and also by those in South America to help induce hallucinations for spiritual journeys. The danger with using it is that there is no real way to know the strength of the ‘medicine’ in each part of the plant. Individual parts, such as the leaves, may contain different amounts, one from the next, making it impossible to gauge such a toxic substance accurately. The leaves are reminiscent of oak leaves, with their serrated edges. Instead of acorns, the seeds are encased in hard spiny pods that split open into four quarters, spilling their contents on the ground when they are ripe.
Because this is a naturally occurring weed and its control is virtually impossible, it is not illegal, nor is it under any sort of legislative oversight. This opens the door for curious teenagers who want to experiment with what they consider to be a possible ‘legal high.’ This is why most poisonings from this weed are of humans and not livestock or other animals. Unless they are in a pasture with sparse vegetation, most livestock will avoid this weed. In fact, most poisonings of livestock are when Jimson weed is accidentally mixed in with animal feed. All parts of this weed are highly toxic, with the seeds and the leaves being the most commonly used parts.
Weed Control and Eradication of Jimson Weed are Essential for a Safe Lawn
Control of this weed can be quite tricky as plants that are stressed will produce seed when they are very small – as short as three or four inches in height. The seeds are viable for decades, and although seedlings can be plucked out before they have a chance to bear pods, not all seeds will sprout at the same time. This ensures that the weed will continually make an appearance. One pod can contain between 80 to 100 seeds, and each plant can bear well over a dozen pods in one season.
To eradicate this weed from a lawn or garden, care must be taken to ensure that contact is not made with the plant. Gloves must be worn, and all tools must be thoroughly washed after use. People should not eat while they are working with this weed to avoid contaminating their food. While the root system is shallow and spread out, new plants can regrow from parts of the root system left behind after previous plants were pulled up and removed. Complete removal can take several months of ongoing lawn maintenance, and an expert lawn service should be used to help ensure that this weed, the root systems, and all seeds and seedlings have been removed.