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datura and toxicity

June 13, 2006

I started some datura from seed, not expecting them to germinate but they did. I have several seedlings, one of which I put in a large pot. When I offered the remaining seedlings to friends, they didn't want them due to their toxicity. One showed me a book which said datura is not only toxic if ingested, but touching the plant, or even smelling the flowers close up is dangerous. Plus, they are supposedly invasive, reseeding everywhere. Is this true? I am not sure now if I should even grow the plant I have in the pot. How dangerous is this plant, really? I know the seed pods are thorny, so even with gloves, could this pierce the skin and cause illness? Why do they sell the seeds and plants if it's so deadly?

Comments (11)

  • lindac

    The seeds have prickles on them and handling them when dry and prickley causes temporary numbness in the fingertips.
    I used to grow them....and found enough would re seed every year to give me one or 2 plants...but believe me nothing rempant...perhaps in the south that might bedifferent...
    I have smelled the blooms, trimmed the plants composted the remains of the plants all with no problems....
    But when breaking apart a seed pod with my bare hands, I did have numb fingers for a while.
    It's certainly no more toxic than foxglove or potatoes for that matter!
    Linda C

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    That information was highly exaggerated. Though there are several alkaloids in Datura (and the rest of that plant family) which can be toxic, they need to be ingested into the body for them to be a problem. If this plant was ALLLLL that poisonous, it would not be the popular ornamental plant that it is. I suspect that your friend was thinking of the wild Jimsonweed, which is a relative of our garden plants.

    It's poisonous properties should not be ignored, however. I would never grow this if I had pets, livestock, toddlers, or even teenagers interested in drugs. Many of the plants that are grown for ornamental use inside and outside the home are toxic to some degree, some highly so. If we stopped using them, our world would be quite a different place, indeed. ;-(

  • janetr

    Heaven's sake, that such nonsense should get into books! I grow D. meteloides and in spite of my extremely sensitive skin, I've never had the slightest trouble handling it or the seed pods. (I have been known to get welts from pulling lawn grass out of the garden.) And sniffing the flowers every evening is one of the highlights of growing them.

    The prickles on the seedpods are rubbery and unlikely to break anyone's skin.

    Even if you ingest parts of the plant, it takes a fair bit to have an effect. A seed or two ain't gonna do it. A whole leaf could kill a cat though, so if you have pets that like to chew on leaves (mine sticks to grass, or things with grass-like leaves), you'd better pass. Most toddlers don't normally go around chowing down on leaves, but if there's a possibility of that, better to barricade it. I grew mine in the backyard only when my neighbours had young children who would come over to inspect the flowers in the front.

    I would also yank it if I saw chunks of it disappearing overnight. It's highly hallucinogenic and some teenagers (precious few!) are botanically savvy enough to know it. That has never happened to me. I continue to grow it with no incident. My teenagers have been told about it. I also told them that all the druggie websites I checked pretty much came to the same conclusion: those who survived were way too frightened to ever touch the stuff again. These were the websites run by drug enthusiasts... They've never touched it, not they have drug problems.

    So, make your own decisions, but base them on facts, not nonsense.

    Half of my garden and houseplants are toxic to either humans or cats, but we all do just fine...

    Janet's Garden

  • lam702

    Thanks for all the replies. You've reassured me. I will keep my potted datura. I did wonder why, if it's so bad, the seeds can even be sold in the U.S. After all, you can't get opium poppies. Anyway, I grow foxglove, that's supposed to be poisonous too. I was actually looking for poisonous plants, because I had a bad woodchuck problem and I figured they wouldn't eat the poisonous plants. The main reason I wanted to grow datura was the fragrance, which I hear is fantastic. The flowers look beautiful too. Since I have no small children or pets that go outdoors, I don't see a problem. Thanks again!

  • watergal

    I'd love to grow some poisonous plants and FEED them to the d*mn woodchucks!!

    I had datura for several years and handles all parts of it without incident, and I have skin that is sensitive to lots of things, including some plants. I had one or two resprout from seed each following year but they finally all died out, probably not enough sun.

    We have a dog now who likes to munch on plants, so I won't grow it any more, just to be safe.

  • cyndi_co

    Actually, you CAN get opium poppies. Technically, it's illegal to GROW them, but selling the seed is legal. Since it's the same seeds that come on your bagel, it might be hard to ban their sale.

    Personally, I find the concerns about toxicity to verge on the hysterical (not you, hpny2!). I swear, we're _this_ close as a society to requiring that all children be bubble-wrapped until they are 21. Lots of plants are poisonious in various forms, but since I've never caught a toddler chowing down on a narcissus bulb, I don't lose a lot of sleep over it.

  • Randi Collier

    OH my dear lord I'm glad I found this.................

    I just got one of these plants and freaked out when I looked it up!!!! I was petrified, feel better now.

    SO consensus is...........this plant should not be carted out to the trash immediately, right?


  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    subject to rhiz's caveat: It's poisonous properties should not be ignored, however. I would never grow this if I had pets, livestock, toddlers, or even teenagers interested in drugs.

    ==>>> soooo.. it depends on your circumstances... with the requisite knowledge.. it may or may not be a problem.. in your garden ...


  • mxk3

    "I swear, we're _this_ close as a society to requiring that all children be bubble-wrapped until they are 21."

    This. x100. IME, there is an inverse relationship between the degree of fuss one makes over their allergies to the actual severity of the allergy. (not referring to you, linda, just Jane Q Public at large)

  • josephene_gw

    Datura grew in the barnyard on the farm where I and my sis grew up. There were several cousins and neighbor kids around. None of us got sick and we played with the datura flowers. We were told it was poison.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex

    Tell your kids to not eat it or they might die.. They are smart and do not want to die. The truth does not kill, ignorance does.. The plants can be touched without effect, or so I find. The world is full of dangers. If you tell them with confidence and serenity, they will take it in stride. There are lots of dangerous plants in our gardens. They need to learn that they can live with dangerous things easily and judgement of how one lives is what it is all about. It is good that they know only a few plants are for eating. You have more to fear from cars and strange dogs. A friend of mine ate 3 seeds as a teenager ( or that is her story) and she went blind for a day. Freaked her out and she never tried any drugs after that. She sure does like her whisky though.

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