The Jimson Weed
Datura Stramonium has many common names, mainly in the UK / USA it is called Jimson Weed or Thorn Apple and dates back to 1676. Originated in Central America, probably Peru, Jimson Weed was first recorded in Jamestown, Virginia, 1676, where a regiment of English Soldiers were fed it. The chef boiled the leaves in a soup, which gave the soldiers an effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, roughly translated, high as a kite. Since then it has had a strange history of medical / spiritual use and drug mis-use, Voodoo Priests used it in a potion to create "Zombies". Not a plant you want to mess with
Being of South American origns the Jimson Weed only explodes in the UK / USA in really hot summers, 2018 / 2019 has seen it revive in gardens, roadsides and other waste or cultivated land.
The Jimson Weed is a tall growing bushy type herb, it can reach 150 cm or 5ft in height, as a young plant it resembles a potato plant, as it grows older it grows like rhubarb, in my opinion.
Its leaves are extremely large, like rhubarb, upto 20 cm / 8 inches long and 15 cm / 6 inches wide. The upside texture is smooth to the touch and dark green in colour, the under side is light green. The Jimson Weed will flower between July and October, they are quite beautiful, long trumpet shaped white flowers with a purple inner center, which makes them very attractive and gardeners may want to keep them around. Unfortunately they also produce poisonous seed pods. The seed pods are 3 to 8 cm in width and depth, round in shape, spiked to the touch. Each Pod contains upto 800 seeds, when they are ready the pods open and disperse the seeds. The seeds can lay domant for years before germinating, waiting for the right conditions, really hot summers in the case of the UK and USA.
The consumption of 10 seed pods can kill livestock like cows, as the Jimson Weed grows anywhere and everywhere it can easily get bailed into the hay and food system, it is always best practice to destroy this plant.
Once set, the Jimson produces a strong and long root system, which makes it very difficult to pull up by hand. We advise you to dig it out, trying to get as much of the root system as possible and dispose of it properly. In the UK you can use the brown bin or you can burn it on your bonfire. It goes without saying, always wear gloves when handling this plant and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
The Jimson plant is an annual, therefore after flowering in November it will wither and die off. The problem is the 1,000's of seeds which will be dispersed, they will lie dormant for years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate.
Weed Killers containing acetic acid and pelargonic acid will kill the Jimson Plant, but beware, these will also kill the good things in your garden. Digging it up is the best method, and as with all weeds a plastic ground cover is the best method of prevention.
If by any chance, which there are some reported cases, the seeds are consumed by children, who know no better, then take them to the hospital immediately.
It is not illegal to grow this plant, but why anyone would want to? The seeds are available to purchase in restricted amounts.