Herb: Downy Thorn Apple

Latin name: Datura inoxia

Synonyms: Datura innoxia, Datura meteloides

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Downy Thorn Apple:

All parts of the plant are anodyne, antispasmodic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic and narcotic. It has been used in the past as a pain killer and also in the treatment of insanity, fevers with catarrh, diarrhoea and skin diseases. The plant contains several alkaloids, the most active of which is scopolamine. This is a potent cholinergic-blocking hallucinogen, which has been used to calm schizoid patients. The leaves contain 0.52% scopolamine, the calices 1.08%, the stems 0.3%, the roots 0.39%, the fruits 0.77%, the capsules 0.33%, the seeds 0.44% and the whole plant 0.52 - 0.62%. Any use of this plant should be with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner since the toxic dose is very close to the medicinal dose.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy or gravelly dry open places below 1200 metres in California.

Edible parts of Downy Thorn Apple:

Fruit - ground up and mixed with clay ( the clay probably has a neutralizing effect on the toxins). A very toxic plant, its use as a food cannot be recommended. The fruit is up to 5cm long and 7cm wide. A stupefying beverage is made from the leaves and roots.

Propagation of the herb:

Sow the seed in individual pots in early spring in a greenhouse. Put 3 or 4 seeds in each pot and thin if necessary to the best plant. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 6 weeks at 15C. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Especially in areas with hot summers, it is worthwhile trying a sowing outdoors in situ in mid to late spring.

Cultivation of Downy Thorn Apple:

Sandy or gravelly dry open places below 1200 metres in California.

Known hazards of Datura inoxia:

All members of this genus contain narcotics and are very poisonous, even in small doses.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.