Datura Ferox, also called Long-Spined Thornapple, is a poisonous perennial flower native to China. The pods alone should be enough to distinguish the species. While datura seed pods are already known for being very spiky, those of Datura Ferox are practically as much spike as they are pod. They are thicker, more widely spaced and more uneven than the spikes of other datura seed pods. In recent years, datura and the related brugmansia varieties have grown in popularity for their large and prolific blooms. The blooms of datura ferox are white and characteristically trumpet-shaped. Like datura stramonium, the seeds are black.
Many datura varieties have been used by various medicine men throughout the world as a divination tool. They have also been used in witchcraft to create so-called flying ointments and were once used in cosmetics. There are various medicinal uses for the plant, although its extreme toxicity generally outweighs any of these benefits for it to be used practically by herbalists. Still, both atropine and scopolamine, two alkaloids present in the plant, are sometimes used in isolated form by doctors. Among the various uses of these chemicals, both cause pupil dilation and eye muscle paralysis for optometric procedures. Scopolamine is also sometimes used for the reduction of motion sickness. There are numerous reports of people suffering from madness from accidental datura ingestion. The most notable was a case in which settlers in Jamestown mistakenly used it in cooking, causing much of the town to run mad. It is from this instance that datura was given the nickname, Jimson Weed. Although the name most directly applies to Datura Stramonium, it is often used in reference to other datura varieties as well.
WARNING: Despite this plant’s beauty, all parts including the seeds contain compounds that are poisonous if ingested. Do not ingest for any reason and keep away from curious pets and children.
Growing Information: Many species of datura contain germination inhibitors in the seeds as a mechanism to stagger germination in the wild, which increases the overall survival of the species. The seeds have been treated with GA-3 aka gibberellic acid (Available in the Gardening Supplies section of our site) to counteract the effects of these inhibitors and provide a quicker more even germination. Otherwise, seeds can be soaked prior to planting. Datura seeds should be planted just below the surface of the soil (about 1/8″). They can be direct sown or transplanted after the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves. Plants will grow in almost any soil type. Although, a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil such as a mix of sand and compost will produce drastically better results with taller, wider plants that have bigger blooms and more pods. For best results, situate plants in full sun to nearly full sun.
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