Monday, September 16, 2013

Jimson Weed


Jimson weed ( datura stramonium) grows wild around here. I was told by Louise Freeman, who grew up on this farm, that back when she was young, some kids would put the seeds in their eyes and it would make them see things.

Ay, law -- I'll bet. All parts of the plant are toxic to a degree, containing"dangerous levels of the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. There is a high risk of fatal overdose amongst uninformed users, and many hospitalizations occur amongst recreational users who ingest the plant for its psychoactive effects. " 


My book of Cherokee herbal medicine states that the dried leaves  were smoked to alleviate asthma and warm, wilted leaves were applied as a poultice for boils.  But one needs to know what one's doing.  

According to Wikipedia, in the United States the plant is called jimson weed, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers consumed it while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. They spent eleven days in altered mental states:

  
I quote:
"The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.
In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed. " The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705
Thanks, Wikipedia! I'll not mess with it.

 
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10 comments:

Ms. A said...

Have mercy... me neither!

Victoria said...

It grows prolifically out here, too. Every so often it becomes 'in style' again with a certain crowd and several people die.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm not familiar with it, but now you've gotten my curiosity up and I'm going to see if it grows around here. With all of our drug problems, someone must have discovered it.
Sam

Brian Miller said...

like most medicines...the side effects sound worse than what it is curing, you know...smiles.

June said...

I've read mentions of jimson weed in so many novels, but never really knew anything about it. I'm a little smarter than I was five minutes ago.
Thanks!

Kath Marsh said...

Fascinating. Thank you.

Martin Hodges said...

Remember last year, Vicki, when this sprang up in our daughter's garden? No sign of anything this year...thankfully.

Thérèse said...

You did not mess with the pictures either :-)

Frances said...

Vicki, I've heard of jimson weed, but never seen a photo or knowingly encountering it in real life.

The Jamestown adventure you quote from Wiki was certainly never in the Virginia history books we studied year after year in elementary school, junior high school and high school. Wonder why this did not make the cut?

xo

Greg Cook said...

i have never heard of this nor do i want it...