Summary details for Datura stramonium

Common thorn apple

Datura stramonium

Common names: Common thorn apple (English); Gewone stinkblaar (Afrikaans); Stechapfel (German); Eguitha (Oshiwambo); Otjitauve (Herero)

Origin: Uncertain, possible South America

Description

Erect annual herb, up to ± 1,5 m high. Stem green to brown or purplish, smooth or only slightly and finely hairy. Leaves large, ovate, dark green to flushed purple above, paler below, slightly hairy to almost smooth, bad-smelling; margin lobed to irregularly toothed; tip tapering; petiole long. Flowers large, up to 100mm long, narrowly trumpet-shaped, white or mauve to purplish. Seed capsules carried erect, ovoid, woody, covered with slender spines up to 10mm 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 stramonium
Datura stramonium © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Datura stramonium
Datura stramonium © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Datura stramonium
Datura stramonium © Photo: Agnieszka Kwiecień, license: CC-BY 3.0