Datura

From Academic Kids

Datura
Missing image
DaturaStramonium-plant-sm.jpg
Thornapple


Datura stramonium
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Solanales
Family:Solanaceae
Genus:Datura
Species

see text

Datura is a genus of herb and shrub plants belonging to the Solanaceae. Originally from the American continent, different species now grow throughout the globe. Some of them are now classified under the name Brugmansia; commonly called angel's trumpets, for their large (in some varieties up to 1 foot long) trumpet-shaped flowers.

All members of the genus, under whichever name, contain the highly toxic anticholinergic alkaloids hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and atropine. One annual species, Datura stramonium, or the thorn apple, so called for its spiked seed pods, was grown for its alkaloid content and used in medicine.

Datura stramonium is also called jimsonweed. This name comes from the town of Jamestown, Virginia. Various versions of the story exist, but in the most common version, British soldiers sent to quell Bacon's Rebellion of 1676 were accidentally served this unfamiliar plant as food, causing many to be incapacitated for 11 days. Datura wrightii, also called sacred datura or western jimsonweed, has similar effects.

Datura was supposedly used in witchcraft to induce hallucinations. If one ingests the plant, one does not stop dreaming even when awake. Hallucinations caused by anticholinergics are extremely powerful in that they can create fully realistic three-dimensional objects that blend in perfectly with the person's view of the world.

The dose-response curve for the combination of alkaloids is very steep, so people who consume datura can easily take a potentially fatal overdose. In the 1990s and 2000s, the United States media contained stories of adolescents and young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting datura.

Perhaps the most famous fictional account of jimsonweed intoxication is given in The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. The narrator records several experiences with the subtly addictive "devil's weed," which his mentor describes as having power similar to that of a woman:

She is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don't like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power.

Species

Missing image
SacredDaturaFx_Wb2.jpg
The distinctive datura flower

See also

External links


Datura is also the name of a trance song by singer/songwriter Tori Amos. Appearing on her album To Venus and Back, the song features Amos reading a list of various plants that are growing in her garden over hypnotic piano and rhythms. She consistently mentions datura within the list, as if to indicate it is overgrowing and destroying her garden. The flower, in the song, is used as a metaphor for destructive relationships.

Datura is also the name of an Italian techno/trance group formed 1991 in Bologna by the musicians Ciro Pagano and Stefano Mazzavillani and the DJs Ricci & Cirillo. One of their biggest hit singles Yerba del diablo ("Devil's weed") also pays reference to the plant.de:Stechäpfel fr:Datura it:Datura lt:Durnaropė nl:Datura

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