Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Unranked Angiosperms
Unranked Eudicots
Order Solanales
Family Solanaceae
Genus Datura
Species D. stramonium
Binomial name Datura stramonium

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the shrub thorn apple are Apple-of-Peru,Devil's-apple,Jamestown Weed,Jimsonweed,Mad Apple and Stinkweed.


The Latin name of this herb comes from the Arabian and Persian languages and means a "thorny fruit". Jimsonweed was first used for medical purposes in 1762 for the treatment of epilepsy and psychoses by the Austrian physician A. von Ströck.The name Stramonium is of uncertain origin: some authorities claim that it is derived from the Greek name of the madapple. Stramonia was the name of D. metel at Venice, in the middle of the sixteenth century, and the plant is figured under that title in the great Herbals of Tragus and Fuchsius.

D. Stramonium seems to have been a later introduction into Europe than D. metel, not becoming general till after the middle of the sixteenth century, but as it rapidly spread and became a common plant, the name of the latter was transferred to it. The generic name, Datura, is from the Hindoo Dhatura, derived from the Sanskrit, D'hustúra, applied to the Indian species fastuosa, well known to the mediaeval Arabian physicians under the name of Tatorea.The name jimsonweed is a corruption of Jamestown weed, after the town in Virginia to which it is first believed to have been imported to the USA from England.


The plant two to five feet high with smooth stems and sinuately lobed leaves with the lobes taper-pointed. The large, white flowers two inches or more in length are tubular, with five lobes at the apex.

The seeds are contained in ovoid capsules one to one and a half inches long, usually covered with spines, and splitting into four parts when ripe. The whole plant has a pronounced sickening odour. The flowers are one of the most distinctive characteristics of Datura stramonium. The flowers of Datura Stramonium open and close, at irregular intervals, during the evening. The flowers are large growing on short flower -stalks in the forks of the branched stems. Calyx is five-toothed and corolla is three inches long, tubular funnel-form with the divisions sharply pointed. They generally have five stamens and one pistil. They are besides possessed of a narcotic poison, especially the purple variety, which is found in the seeds.


Thorn apple is a native to tropical America. Thorn apple grows in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Thorn apple is cultivated for medicinal use in Hungary, France, and Germany.


They are seen in pastures, barnyards, fields, waste ground, cultivated areas, roadsides, railroads. It grows in most parts of the world. It is common on both cultivated and waste ground.


Datura seems to be an awkward genera in that it will often grow like a weed and at other times seems to resist every attempt at germination.Datura seem to occur naturally on fertile wasteland, rubbish tips, dry river banks and roadsides - they almost always start growing where the ground has been recently disturbed (giving the seeds sheltered nooks where plant material can gather and rot, and where the humidity is maintained by being sheltered from direct sunlight and wind).Thornapple is easily cultivated, growing well in an open, sunny situation. It will flourish in most moderately good soils, but will do best in a rich calcareous soil, or in a good sandy loam, with leaf mould added. The soil should be kept free from weeds in the early stages, but the plants are so umbrageous and strong that they need little care later. If the summer is hot and dry, give a mulching of rotted cow-manure. 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 15° c. 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.

Flowering Season

The large and handsome flowers which are about 3 inches in length, growing singly on short stems springing from the axils of the leaves are in bloom from May through October.

Pests and Diseases

This species is extremely susceptible to the various viruses that afflict the potato family (Solanaceae); it can act as a centre of infection so should not be grown near potatoes or tomatoes

Parts Used


The seeds, flowers and the leaves are the most commonly used parts of the plant for its commercial and medicinal applications.

Medicinal And Commercial Applications


• Thorn apple is useful to treat of neurological and psychiatric diseases.

• The root and leaves were of thorn apple used externally in folk medicine to treat boils and cuts.

• Helps in relieving the spasm of the Bronchitis in Asthma. Asthma sufferers inhaled the smoke of the burning plant leaves or smoked the dried leaves for relief.

• It is used in treatment of Parkinsonism and Hemorrhoids.

• Leaves applied after roasting are useful in relieving pain.

• Thorn apple relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal, bronchial, and urinary tracts, and reduces digestive and mucous secretions.

• It is also used in homeopathy.

• Thorn apple may be applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains and neuralgia.

• The juice of the fruits is applied to the scalp to cure dandruff and falling hair.

• Externally, it is used as a poultice or wash in the treatment of fistulas, abscesses wounds and severe neuralgia.

• Analgesic, anthelmintic and anti-inflammatory, they are used in the treatment of stomach and intestinal pain due to worm infestation, toothache and fever from inflammations.


The celestial body Jupiter controls the thorn apple tree.

Cultural Significance

It was used as a mystical sacrament in both possible places of origin. Aboriginal Americans in the United States have used this plant in sacred ceremonies. In some tribes datura was involved in the ceremonies of manhood. The sadhus of Hinduism also used datura as a spiritual tool, smoking it with cannabis in their traditional chillums. It was also widely used by the Hungarian spiritual leaders since ancient times. There is a Hungarian phrase "Nem veszem be ezt a maszlagot" (I will not eat Datura stramonium), meaning "you cannot fool me".

In the United States it is called jimson weed, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers were drugged with it while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. They spent eleven days generally appearing to have gone insane. It appears that Daturas have always played a significant role as 'culture plants' and evidence regarding their uses both in Asia and in the New World dates back at least 3000 years. In Zuni tradition it belongs to the rain-priests who use the root when they appeal to their ancestor-spirits for rain. Sometimes they also sprinkle a little powdered root into their eyes in order to communicate with 'the feathered ones' at night.

Folklores and Myths

In the Middle Ages, it was very popular among professional murderers who used to add parts of the plant with the victim's food or wine and achieved an immediate poisoning effect, followed by death.Thornapple was considered an aid to the incantation of witches, and during the time of the witch and wizard mania in England, it was unlucky for anyone to grow it in his garden. In both hemispheres Daturas were regarded as sacred and especially valued for their power to induce visionary dreams, to see the future and to reveal the causes of disease and misfortune.