Friday, May 4, 2012

Beware Of The Jamestown Weed...!

Many times nature can play some really mean tricks on us!

Just to show you what I mean, here is the innocent looking flower known as Jamestown weed, among other wonderful little nicknames!

Datura Stramonium

Finally, we have Datura Stramonium. This is a very common, and very attractive plant. It grows just about anywhere there is soil. It can sometimes lie dormant underground for years and suddenly germinate when the soil is disturbed. The plant is known for its trumpet-like flower, which is colored white to pink or purple, and its seed pod which is covered in many sharp thorns. A foul odor is secreted when any part of the plant is disturbed or broken. Draw your initial conclusions when you hear its many names – Devil’s trumpet, Devil’s weed, Devil’s cucumber, Hell’s Bells, locoweed, stinkweed, pricklyburr, thornapple, Jamestown weed, Jimson weed, tolguacha and Moonflower. It is a member of the deadly Nightshade family.

Datura was used as a mystical sacrament in North America by natives, and in South Asia, where Hindus believe Lord Shiva is often seen smoking Datura. It causes intense hallucinations and delirium. It’s unofficial name, Jamestown weed, comes from the town in Virginia, where British soldiers were drugged with it while attempting to suppress Bacon’s Rebellion. They spent eleven days appearing to have gone insane, as this suggests:

“The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call’d) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather’d very young for a boil’d salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves – though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed.” – The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705

All parts of the Datura plant contains dangerous levels of poisonous alkaloids. It is often fatal when ingested by humans and animals, including livestock and pets. Datura intoxication typically produces a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy. Other symptoms reported include hyperthermia, tachycardia, bizarre and possibly violent behavior and severe mydriasis with resultant painful photophobia that can last for several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect. Because of the small window between dose and overdose, recreational use of datura stramonium is NOT advised. Overdose, more often than not, includes death.

Just a suggestion here, but you might want to avoid this plant in your garden. Could be bad for your health and sanity!

Coffee on the patio this morning again. Should be back up to the 90s today, so we'll stay in the shade!

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