There are very few (if not none) cases where someone has ingested Datura, either willingly or mistakenly, and had a positive experience. From a distance, the plant seems beautiful and harmless; interacting with it proves otherwise. From its association with witchcraft to its medicinal values, here are some surprising facts about the plant that you probably didn’t know.
1. British Soldiers Got High for 11 Days after Consuming Boiled Datura Greens
In 1676, a troop of British soldiers were sent to settle Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia. Interestingly, they spent 11 days high out of their minds after they ingested boiled devil’s trumpet leaves. They acted innocently and of good nature, which is uncharacteristic of soldiers in a violent mission.
2. They Are Very Poisonous
All Datura species plants are extremely poisonous, with some known to produce psychoactive symptoms. Their flowers and seeds are the most toxic. Depending on how an individual interacts with them, they can cause splitting headaches, respiratory depression, psychosis, delirium, anticholinergic syndrome, hallucinations, and even death.
3. They Can Also Be Medicine
As much as they are poisonous, devil’s trumpets also have medicinal value. Traditionally, they were smoked in pipes and cigarettes to treat certain medical conditions. It was also used as a form of anesthesia during surgical operations in China.
4. Devil’s Trumpets Are Often Associated with Witchcraft
Even in the Western World, devil’s trumpets have often been associated with witchcraft, sorcery, and others along those lines. Historically, some Native American groups were known to include Datura as entheogens in their rituals. These plants belong to the ancient “witches’ weeds,” together with henbane, mandrake, and nightshade.
5. Smoking Datura Caused Numerous Deaths in the 90s and 2000s
In the past, the effects of Datura were well specified; people knew better than messing with them. Ironically, the majority of the illnesses and deaths associated with the plants were reported in the 90s and 2000s, when modern medicine and education were a thing. In the United States, many cases were reported of adolescents who fell sick or succumbed to smoking Datura.
6. Datura Ingestion Was a Popular Suicide Method in the 50s and 60s
Especially in India and some parts of Europe, the devil’s trumpet was a popular suicide method. According to the research conducted by the State Chemical Laboratories in Agra, India, between 1950 and 1965, close to 3,000 deaths were caused by ingesting Datura.
7. A Family of Six Unknowingly Consumed Datura in 2008
According to the CDC, a family of six unknowingly consumed Datura through wasp-produced honey in 2008. Apparently, the Brachygastra lecheguana species of wasp can collect nectar from Datura plant flowers, which they use to make honey. The Maryland-based family were victims of consuming such poisoned honey; they exhibited various symptoms, including confusion, mydriasis, and hallucinations.
8. Activated Charcoal Can Help Prevent Datura Poison Absorption
Individuals suspected to have taken Datura poisons are often given activated charcoal to stop further absorption into the stomach’s lining. Physostigmine drug is the most common Datura poisoning treatment option.
9. The Poison In Devil’s Trumpets Is for Its Survival
From the plants’ point of view, the poison in their leaves and roots is for survival. It is a natural defense against fungi, herbivores, pathogens, and viruses. The poison is also useful during drought and other natural conditions. As such, the amount of poison in a Datura plant depends on the species, time of the year, age, and environment.
10. Costco Accidentally Poisoned People with Datura Through Its Food
In 2022, about 200 people were diagnosed with Datura poisoning in Australia after they consumed products containing contaminated spinach. Apparently, the spinach used to make the particular foodstuffs was harvested together with the leaves of the deadly Datura stramonium devil’s trumpet species. Riviera Farms, the place where the contaminated spinach came from was notified and prompt action was taken to eradicate the weed.
11. They Are Among the Worst Psychoactive Substances
Datura ranks among the psychoactive substances with the worst recreational experiences. The majority of people who have smoked the plant’s products say they find it extremely unpleasant both physically and mentally. Here are some of the feedback.
12. It Has Many Names
Scientifically known as Datura stramonium (D. stramonium), the devil’s trumpet plant has many names, depending on geographical location and culture. The most common ones include Datura, thornapple, jimsonweed, hell’s bell, devil’s weed, and moonflower.