In the Wild
*Also known as devil’s apple, devil’s trumpet, jimsonweed, mad apple, and thornapple
Datura is a branching, sprawling plant that grows from two to five feet tall. Its large oval leaves have coarse, unevenly toothed edges. The striking, trumpet-shaped flowers can be white or purplish, and have pointed petals. Covered with spines, the round, walnut-sized seedpod turns brown and splits lengthwise as it ripens. The entire plant has an unpleasant odor. Like its cousins belladonna and henbane, datura is poisonous. In fact, it can be fatal if ingested.
Because of its psychoactive properties, datura has been used in various cultures since ancient times for particular rituals and shamanic practices. Experiences with this plant were said to border on madness. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were familiar with this plant, and in the Middle Ages it was said to have been an ingredient in witches’ potions and ointments. Native Americans also used datura.
The spiny seedpod is the source for many of this plant’s folk names. The name jimsonweed evolved from Jamestown weed in reference to an incident in 1676 at Jamestown, Virginia.75 After ingesting the plant in their food, a troop of English soldiers ran amuck in a wild state of delirium. Although datura has several medicinal applications, it is too dangerous for home herbal use.
If you encounter datura in the wild, give a nod to its powers and leave an offering to Hecate, Hades, or other deities of the underworld. Let it serve as a reminder to live and enjoy the light of the living.
Datura is associated with the element water, the goddess Hecate, and the god Hades. Its astrological influence comes from Saturn.