Summary details for Datura ferox

Large thorn apple

Datura ferox

Common names: Large thorn apple (English); Grootstinkblaar (Afrikaans); Stechapfel (German); Omutiwonjoka (Herero)

Origin: Asia

Description

Erect annual herb, up to ± 1,5 m high. Stem pale green, smooth or only slightly and finely hairy. Leaves large, ovate, dark green above, paler below, slightly hairy to almost smooth, bad-smelling; margin lobed to irregularly toothed; tip tapering; petiole long. Flowers large, up to 85mm long, narrowly trumpet-shaped, white. Seed capsules carried erect, ovoid, woody, covered with robust, spreading spines up to 30mm long.  

Distribution/Discussion

Highly invasive aliens that produce numerous seeds. Common along road verges, in dry water courses, on river banks, in pans and in disturbed ground, often forming dense stands. The seeds (‘malpitte’) are a common cause of human poisonings, which are sometimes fatal. Horses, cattle, sheep, and ostrich are also susceptible to poisoning by Datura species, which causes typical signs, including dilation of pupils, dry mouth with red mucous membranes, colic , tremors and convulsions, while very high doses may cause excitement and mania.

Datura ferox
Datura ferox © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Datura ferox
Datura ferox © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer