Jul 25, 2010

On Jimson Weed and Dirt Purchases

We purchased four cubic yards of dirt from a local supplier this spring to fill in some holes and level out some low areas in my yard and gardens. Along with the dirt came the requisite hidden seeds, and this spring and summer witnessed the appearance of a number of new-to-me weeds in my yard.

One of those weeds looked rather interesting, and I allowed a few specimens to grow after they produced some eye-catching white blossoms. I elected to let the plants live to see what sort of fruit they would produce, and over the course of the past few weeks I noticed the appearance of prickly seed pods on the plants.

This morning I decided to identify the mystery plants, and I was a bit disturbed to see that I had been allowing the poisonous Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) to set up shop in my garden. This plant is notorious in the U.S. for the occasional thrill-seeking teenagers who ingest it in pursuit of hallucinogenic kicks and wind up in the hospital. The drug information clearinghouse Erowid - not known for anti-drug polemics by any stretch - has this to say about Jimson weed intoxication:
Symptoms include mydriasis; cycloplegia; flushed, warm, dry skin; dry mouth; ileus; urinary retention; tachycardia; hyper or hypotension; delirium with hallucinations; jerky, myoclonic movements; choreoathetosis; hyperthermia; coma; respiratory arrest; rare seizures; and central stimulation followed by depression. Hallucinations are reported in as many as 83% of cases; typically they are simple visual images in natural colors, but infrequently also tactile hallucinations of crawling insects.
Even more to the point (and pretty funny in a dark way) was this quote from a one-time Jimson weed user:
I do not condone the recreational use of Datura at all. It’s horrible. So kids, there is no need to eat Datura. Stay the fuck away from it. And if you do decide to try it, even after reading this report, and or countless other train wreck experiences. Then you are as fucking dumb as I am.
Another one-off experimenter with Datura painted an even more grim picture:
I was out of it for 2 days, and comming down from it was very scary. It was a very evil feeling.I felt like I had sold my soul to the devil. I can't really explain it but it is not something that I can ever forget. If I could find a time machine, I would go back and undo the terrible mistake that I made when I collected evil from someones garden.
Admittedly there was a point in my life many years ago when I might have been reckless enough to ingest such a substance, especially if knowledgeable friends recommended it, but these days I do not even drink full mugs of coffee out of a desire to avoid caffeine jitters. Thus, it was with a sense of urgency that I returned to the yard to uproot these plants and rid my property of a potentially deadly menace.

Yet the Datura plants had the last laugh: even though I wore gloves when yanking out these dangerous weeds, water from last night's rains poured off the plants and went directly into my eyes. Now I get to fret for a few hours about whether there will be some residual eye irritation or even a small dose of imagining crawling insects.

So, if you plan to uproot Jimson weed, make sure your eyes are covered, or you might spend an afternoon wondering if you are about to start tripping.

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

I suppose you could collect some and put it into a salad, which you then offer to some vegetarian acquaintances. When one of your dinner guests starts swatting at invisible cockroaches you've got instant entertainment for the rest of the night.