Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Datura stramonium



Datura stramonium (jimsonweed)


  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Datura stramonium
  • Preferred Common Name
  • jimsonweed
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Flowering D. stramonium plant with flowers and fruit.
TitleFlowers and fruits
CaptionFlowering D. stramonium plant with flowers and fruit.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Flowering D. stramonium plant with flowers and fruit.
Flowers and fruitsFlowering D. stramonium plant with flowers and fruit.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Datura stramonium L. (1753)

Preferred Common Name

  • jimsonweed

Other Scientific Names

  • Datura inermis Juss. ex Jacq
  • Datura pseudostramonium Sieb. Bernh. Tromms 1933
  • Datura stramonium var. tatula (L.) Torr. 1824
  • Datura stromonium var. chalybea W.D.J. Koch, nom. illeg.
  • Datura tatula L. (1762)
  • Stramonium vulgatum Gart. Fruct. et Sem. 1791

International Common Names

  • English: common thornapple; devils trumpet; jamestown-weed; mad-apple; stinkwort
  • Spanish: belladona del pobre; cajon del diablo; chamico grande; chamisco; datura manzana; estramonio; manzana espinosa; peo de fraille
  • French: belladone; conchombre diable; concombre a chein; datura stramonie; herbe des taupes; pomme epineuse; stramonie commune
  • Arabic: datoora; tatoora
  • Portuguese: estramanonio; figueira do inferno; figueire do inferno; quinquilho

Local Common Names

  • Bhutan: dhaturo; nyangmo-throkchang
  • Brazil: bem casado; estrasmónio; mamoninha brava; mata zombando; sia branca; trombeteira; zabumba
  • Cuba: campana; chamico
  • Germany: Stechapfel
  • Indonesia: kecubung lutik; kecubung wulung
  • Italy: indormia; stramonio comune
  • Japan: shirobanachosenasagao
  • Lebanon: daturah; nafir
  • Netherlands: Doornappel
  • Norway: piggeple
  • Poland: bielun dziedzierzawa
  • South Africa: bloustinkolie; doringapple; gewone; iloqi; lechoe; lethsowe; makolieboom; makstinkblaar; makstinkolie; malpitte; olieblaar; olieblaarneut; olieneut; pietjielaporte; steekappel; stinkblaar; umhlavuthwa; zaba-zaba
  • Sweden: spikklubba
  • Thailand: lampong
  • Zimbabwe: chowa

EPPO code

  • DATSL (Datura stramonium var. tatula)
  • DATST (Datura stramonium)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):


Annual herb (0.5–2 m tall); stems green, purple or brown, hairy to hairless; single stem divides into two branches, both of which again divide into two branches as they grow, and so on.


Unclear, but probably tropical America.

Reason for Introduction

Ornament and accidentally as a contaminant.


Roadsides, railways, disturbed land, wasteland, fallow land, crops, managed pasture, drainage ditches, woodland edges/gaps, lowlands, gullies and dry riverbeds.


Competes aggressively with native plants and crops, forming dense monospecific stands. Infestations in the USA have resulted in a 56% yield loss in cotton. Yields of soybean plants growing within a distance of 1.2 m from a thorn apple plant are significantly reduced demonstrating the allelopathic impacts of this weed. In Spain, competition from thorn apple in irrigated maize has reduced yields by 56%. D. stramonium is also an alternative host for several pests and pathogens of solanaceous crops. Toxic to people, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens thorn apple has gained notoriety as a plant that is used by people to commit suicide.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Solanaceae
  •                             Genus: Datura
  •                                 Species: Datura stramonium

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The genus name Datura is derived from dhatura, the Bengali name for the plant, while the epithet stramonium combines the Greek word strychnos for nightshade, and makinos meaning mad, referring to the narcotic properties of the species. Until relatively recently it had been customary to distinguish between the white-flowered D. stramonium and the purple-flowered D. tatula. However, chemotaxanomic studies have confirmed that these are both forms of D. stramonium (Haegi, 1976; Hadkins et al., 1997). Variants of D. stramonium have been described with 2n = 12, 25, 26, 36 or 48 chromosomes. Morphological variants include: var. tatula which has purple flowers and sub-equal spines on the capsule; var. stramonium, with white flowers and shorter spines on the lower part of the fruit; and var. inermis which has a spineless capsule. Adzet et al. (1979) reported that morphological differences between var. inermis and var. tatula in Spain are not reflected in amino acid and alkaloid variation patterns. However, differences in stomatal number and locations of protective and glandular hairs have been reported between specimens of var. stramonium and a further form, var. godronii in Italy (Circosta et al., 1982).


Top of page D. stramonium is a rank-smelling, erect, bushy annual herb, 0.5 to 2 m tall with glabrous, green to purplish, stout stems. The roots may be shallow and extensively branched, but in some soils a stout, branched peg-like taproot with extensive stringy lateral roots can develop.

In the seedling stage, the first true leaves are ovate with pointed tips and few or no lobes. In later stages the leaves, which have an unpleasant smell when crushed, are alternate, ovate to broadly triangular, glabrous, unevenly toothed, 5-25 cm long, 4-25 cm wide, on a petiole and up to 10 cm long.

Flowers are usually borne erect on short peduncles in the axils of branches. The tubular calyx is 3 to 5 cm long with five unequal teeth, 3-10 mm long. The 5-lobed white or purplish corolla is tubular or trumpet-shaped, 5-10 cm long, fetid, with 5 stamens of equal length attached to the corolla near the base, and a long style with a 2-lobed stigma. The fruit is an ovoid, erect capsule, 3.5-6.5 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, opening by four valves and densely covered with more or less equal spines up to 15 mm long, rarely smooth. The numerous seeds are dark brown to black, flat, kidney-shaped with an irregularly pitted surface, 3-4 mm long, 2-3 mm wide.


Top of page From probable origins in the tropical regions of Central and South America, D. stramonium has become a cosmopolitan weed in the warm regions of North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand. It is now found throughout almost all the USA except for the north-west and northern great plains. It was recorded in Virginia, USA, by 1676, where it's seed was used as a narcotic by British soldiers. Although it had been collected in Quebec and Ontario in the late 1800s, it was not until the 1950s that D. stramonium started to appear as a weed in cultivated fields of Canada (Weaver and Warwick, 1984). It was also noted in Australia by the early years of the 19th century (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentHolm et al., 1979
BangladeshPresentHolm et al., 1979
BhutanPresentParker, 1992
ChinaPresentYao Lin et al., 1976; Wang, 1990
-AnhuiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-FujianPresentFlora of China, 1994
-GansuPresentFlora of China, 1994
-GuangdongPresentFlora of China, 1994
-GuangxiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-GuizhouPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HainanPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HebeiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HeilongjiangPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HenanPresentFlora of China, 1994
-Hong KongPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HubeiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-HunanPresentFlora of China, 1994
-JiangsuPresentFlora of China, 1994
-JiangxiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-JilinPresentFlora of China, 1994
-LiaoningPresentFlora of China, 1994
-MacauPresentFlora of China, 1994
-NingxiaPresentFlora of China, 1994
-QinghaiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-ShaanxiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-ShandongPresentFlora of China, 1994
-ShanxiPresentFlora of China, 1994
-SichuanPresentFlora of China, 1994
-TibetPresentFlora of China, 1994
-XinjiangPresentFlora of China, 1994
-YunnanPresentFlora of China, 1994
-ZhejiangPresentFlora of China, 1994
IndiaPresentHolm et al., 1997
-Himachal PradeshPresentRataul and Kishore, 1980
-KarnatakaPresentKrishna Sastry et al., 1980
-SikkimPresentHolm et al., 1997
-Uttar PradeshPresentSuteri et al., 1979
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentBacker and, 1973
IranPresentHolm et al., 1997
IraqPresentHassawy et al., 1968
IsraelPresentHolm et al., 1979
JapanPresentNumoto and Yoshizawa, 1980
JordanPresentHolm et al., 1979
Korea, DPRPresentKolbek and Sadlo, 1996
Korea, Republic ofPresentHolm et al., 1979
LebanonPresentEdgecombe, 1970
NepalPresentHolm et al., 1979
PakistanPresentHolm et al., 1979
Saudi ArabiaPresentChaudhary and Akram, 1987
Sri LankaPresentHolm et al., 1997
SyriaPresentKoch et al., 1988
TaiwanPresentFlora of China, 1994
ThailandPresentHolm et al., 1979
TurkeyPresentMoore, 1972
YemenPresentChaudhary & Revi, 1983


AlgeriaPresentSong, 1987
AngolaPresentHolm et al., 1979
BotswanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Wells et al., 1986; Witt and Luke, 2017
BurundiPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
CameroonPresentHepper, 1963
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentHolm et al., 1979
EgyptPresentBoulos & Nabil El-Hadidi, 1995; Holm et al., 1979
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Stroud & Parker, 1987; Holm et al., 1979; Witt and Luke, 2017
GhanaPresentHepper, 1963; Holm et al., 1979
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Blundell, 1992; Witt and Luke, 2017
LesothoPresentWells et al., 1986
MadagascarPresentHolm et al., 1997
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Banda and Morris, 1985; Witt and Luke, 2017
MaliPresentHepper, 1963
MoroccoPresentHolm et al., 1979
MozambiquePresentHolm et al., 1979
NamibiaPresentWells et al., 1986
NigeriaPresentHepper, 1963
RwandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
SenegalPresentHolm et al., 1979
SeychellesPresentRoberston, 1989
South AfricaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Wells et al., 1986
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1979
SwazilandPresentWells et al., 1986
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Blundell, 1992; Witt and Luke, 2017
TogoPresentHepper, 1963
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Blundell, 1992; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Bolnick, 1995; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Drummond, 1984; Witt and Luke, 2017

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlbertaPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-British ColumbiaPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-ManitobaPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-New BrunswickPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-Nova ScotiaPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-OntarioPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-Prince Edward IslandPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-QuebecPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-SaskatchewanPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
-Yukon TerritoryPresentWeaver and Warwick, 1984
MexicoPresentHolm et al., 1979
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ArizonaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ArkansasPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-CaliforniaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ColoradoPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ConnecticutPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-DelawarePresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-FloridaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-GeorgiaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-HawaiiPresentHaselwood & Matter, 1966
-IdahoPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IllinoisPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IndianaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IowaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-KansasPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-KentuckyPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-LouisianaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MainePresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MarylandPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MassachusettsPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MichiganPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MinnesotaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MississippiPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MissouriPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-NebraskaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-NevadaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New HampshirePresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New JerseyPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New MexicoPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New YorkPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-North CarolinaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-OhioPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-OklahomaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-OregonPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-PennsylvaniaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-Rhode IslandPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-South CarolinaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-South DakotaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-TennesseePresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-TexasPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-UtahPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-VermontPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-VirginiaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-WashingtonPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-West VirginiaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-WisconsinPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Antigua and BarbudaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
BarbadosPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Costa RicaPresentHolm et al., 1979
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Dominican RepublicPresentHolm et al., 1979
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1979
GrenadaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
GuadeloupePresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
GuatemalaPresentHolm et al., 1979
HondurasPresentHolm et al., 1979
JamaicaPresentHolm et al., 1979
MartiniquePresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
MontserratPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Netherlands AntillesPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
PanamaPresentTropicos, 1998
Puerto RicoPresentVelez, 1950
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Saint LuciaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Trinidad and TobagoPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991

South America

ArgentinaPresentMarzocca, 1979
BoliviaPresentAnon, 1977
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlagoasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-AmazonasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-BahiaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-CearaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Espirito SantoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Fernando de NoronhaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-MaranhaoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato GrossoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParanaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PernambucoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PiauiPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio de JaneiroPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do NortePresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi, 1982
-SergipePresentLorenzi, 1982
ChilePresentHolm et al., 1979
ColombiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
PeruPresentAlva, 1973; Holm et al., 1979
VenezuelaPresentHolm et al., 1979


AlbaniaPresentMoore, 1972
AustriaPresentMoore, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
BelgiumPresentMoore, 1972
BulgariaPresentMoore, 1972
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentMoore, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
DenmarkPresentMoore, 1972
FrancePresentMoore, 1972; Mamarot, 1996
-CorsicaPresentMoore, 1972
GermanyPresentMoore, 1972; Moore, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
GreecePresentMoore, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
HungaryPresentMoore, 1972; Holm et al., 1979
IrelandPresentHolm et al., 1997
ItalyPresentCiferri and Pignatti, 1960; Moore, 1972
NetherlandsPresentMoore, 1972
NorwayPresentMoore, 1972
PolandPresentMoore, 1972
PortugalPresentCarvalho and Vasconcellos, 1958; Moore, 1972
-AzoresPresentMoore, 1972
RomaniaPresentMoore, 1972
SpainPresentMoore, 1972
SwedenPresentMoore, 1972
SwitzerlandPresentMoore, 1972
UKPresentMoore, 1972; Stace, 1991
Yugoslavia (former)PresentTodorovic, 1959; Moore, 1972


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-New South WalesPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-QueenslandPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-South AustraliaPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-TasmaniaPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-VictoriaPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-Western AustraliaPresentParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
FijiPresentParham, 1958; Holm et al., 1979
New ZealandPresentParham and Healy, 1985

Risk of Introduction

Top of page Species of Datura have been spread around the world as contaminants of agricultural seed; Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992) quote the example of introduction of D. stramonium into parts of Victoria, Australia, in contaminated safflower seed. Contaminated soyabeans have resulted in new infestations of D. stramonium in Norway on several occasions. It is particularly difficult to separate from sorghum seed, which is of a similar size. Seed inspection and certification agencies should therefore be vigilant when batches of seed for planting are imported from areas where species of Datura species are known to occur. Legislation in Queensland, Australia, prohibits the sale of crop seed which is contaminated by D. ferox or D. stramonium (Genn, 1987).


Top of page Thornapples are principally found in warm-temperate and subtropical regions, in open situations on fertile soils. Although they favour regions with plentiful rainfall, they can also survive on sandy pastures. They are therefore aggressive colonizers of agricultural fields and compete strongly in summer crops in many parts of the world. They are also found on the sites of abandoned cattle yards and on river flats. D. stramonium grows at sea level, but has also been recorded at 2750 m in the Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim (Holm et al., 1997).

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page D. stramonium is very widely distributed in temperate and tropical areas and is likely to be found in almost any summer crop. Indeed, Holm et al. (1997) state that it has been reported as a weed in more than 40 crops in almost 100 countries.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page D. stramonium is an annual and overwinters or passes through dry seasons only as seed. It is a day-neutral plant and will flower in photoperiods of 6-8 hours (Holm et al., 1997). Although vigorous, isolated plants may produce 30,000 or more seeds, plants growing at high density will yield an average of 1300-1500 seeds (Weaver and Warrick, 1984). Mature seeds are dispersed by dehiscence from dry capsules up to a distance of 1-3 m (Conklin, 1976), a process which is aided when plants are disturbed by harvesting equipment.

Seeds of D. stramonium are long lived, 91% surviving 39 years burial at 34 cm in one experiment (Toole and Brown, 1946), although decay is faster when seeds are in upper layers (2.5 to 10 cm) of the soil (Stoller and Wax, 1974). Although D. stramonium seed from many locations around the world will germinate immediately upon maturing, they appear to develop an impermeable seed coat which imposes dormancy for at least several months if not longer. Removal of the seed coat allows germination (Gill, 1938; Martin, 1943.) Dormant seeds require an after-ripening period before they will germinate. During this period the response to light and temperature alternation increases according to the dormancy level of the particular population (Reisman-Berman et al., 1988). Alternating temperatures within the range of 20-35°C give optimum conditions for germination. In studies using D. ferox, Miguel and Soriano (1974) demonstrated that breakage of dormancy is related to the vapour pressure around the seed during after-ripening. Good aeration is needed for the process to proceed, so germination of otherwise dormant seed could be achieved following exposure to water vapour at 20°C for 3-4 weeks. If seeds absorb liquid water, germination rates are lower, possibly due to poor oxygen diffusion through the seed coat. Burial of seeds in the soil can affect the germination response to light, although published results are not unequivocal. Stoller and Wax (1974) reported that D. stramonium seed buried for 12 months developed an absolute light requirement for germination in only some seasons. In D. ferox, phytochrome-induced cellulase activity leads to endosperm softening and germination in the presence of light (Sanchez et al., 1986; Botto et al., 1998). Exposure of seed to light during cultivation will therefore stimulate germination.

D. stramonium grows better in neutral than in acidic soils (Buchanan et al., 1975) and is responsive to P and K (Hoveland et al., 1976). The weed is commonly found thriving around farm buildings, livestock yards and abandoned cattle pens, suggesting that it would be responsive to N fertilization under field conditions. However, this has not been shown to be the case in field experiments (Holm et al., 1997).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alternaria crassa Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Many of the organisms which damage species of Datura are also important pests or diseases of crops (see section on Economic Importance). Despite a considerable amount of research into the biocontrol potential of a number of fungi, particularly species of Alternaria, none are currently being used in weed control programmes.


Top of page As a weed in more than 100 countries, D. stramonium is considered by Holm et al. (1997) to be more widespread than even Cyperus rotundus which is ranked as the world's worst weed. Crop losses due to competition from D. stramonium depend on the crop and climatic conditions. Season-long competition resulted in 56% yield loss in cotton in the USA, but only 16% in the case of a more competitive soyabean crop (Oliver et al., 1991). Even sparse populations can be damaging with individual plants reducing the yield of soyabean plants growing within a distance of 1.2 m (Henry and Bauman, 1991). Reductions in the yield of irrigated maize by 56% due to season-long competition from D. stramonium have been reported in Spain by Torner et al. (1995). At a density of 3-11 plants per m², yields of directly-seeded tomatoes may be reduced by 26-71% (Monaco et al., 1981).

D. stramonium serves as an alternate host for several pests and pathogens of Solanaceous crops; an extensive listing can be found in Weaver and Warrick (1984). Some of the more important include Manduca sexta, Phthorimaea operculella (tobacco leaf miner in Australia, North America and South Africa), species of Alternaria and Cercospora (leaf spots and pod blights), Phymatotrichopsis omnivora and Macrophomina phaseolina (charcoal rot of maize and soya). The species is also a susceptible host to more than 60 viruses.

Trophane alkaloids produced by D. stramonium and related species are poisonous to humans, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962) so it is important to prevent contamination of feed grains by seeds of these weeds. Due to the difficulty and expense of separating the seed from sorghum grain, contaminated samples of the crop may be downgraded or rejected by buyers in Australia (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Livestock normally avoid eating species of Datura unless other vegetation is unavailable, but may be poisoned by ingesting it as a contaminant of hay, silage or seed screenings (Hightower, 1979).


Top of page Species of Datura have been used in many parts of the world as narcotics, constituents of folk remedies and as a source of atropine, hyoscamine and hyoscine alkaloids for pharmacological use in both human and veterinary medicine (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). There has also been considerable interest in the use of extracts of Datura species as botanical pesticides. D. metel, for example, appears to suppress a number of nematode species of economic importance (Oduor Owini, 1993).

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Miscellaneous drugs, stimulants and social uses


  • Host of pest


  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page In addition to D. stramonium, a number of other species of Datura have been reported as weeds in various parts of the world. In Australia, for example, the native D. leichhardtii and four naturalized species, D. ferox, D. inoxia, D. metel, and D. wrightii are all classed as noxious weeds in at least part of the country (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

As in D. stramonium, the capsule of D. ferox is carried erect on a straight stalk, but has up to 60 stout spines compared with the 100 or more in D. stramonium. The flowers of D. ferox, at up to 6 cm long, are somewhat smaller than those of D. stramonium. D. ferox has also been reported to be a weed problem in Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Lesotho, Uruguay, South Africa and Zimbabwe (Holm et al, 1979; Mienis, 1982; Wells et al., 1986). It is cultivated as an ornamental and is locally naturalized in Mediterranean regions of France, Spain, Italy and Sicily (Moore, 1972).

D. inoxia, of North American origin, is a pubescent perennial; flowers 10-12-lobed and has entire or only slightly toothed leaf margins. It has a capsule borne on a curved stalk, which does not dehisce by regularly-sized valves. It is found in Egypt, Canada, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Yemen and throughout the Lesser Antilles (Hepper, 1963; Alva, 1973; Chaudhary and Revri, 1983; Weaver and Warwick, 1984; Wells et al., 1986; Chaudhary and Akram, 1987; Boulos and El-Hadidi, 1995). It has also been reported from Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Shandong and Xinjang provinces of China (Wu and Raven, 1994). In Europe, the species is naturalized in Mediterranean areas of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sardinia and Sicily (Moore, 1972).

D. fastuosa also has nodding capsules which dehisce irregularly, leaves entire and flowers 5-10-lobed.

D. metel is similar to D. inoxia in habit, but is glabrous and has very short spines or tubercles on the capsule. D. metel has been reported from Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire, Fiji, Ghana, India, Indonesia (Java), Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey and USA (Hepper, 1963; Backer, 1973; Holm et al., 1979; Wells et al., 1986; Robertson, 1989; Tropicos, 1998). In China, it is found in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan Provinces and Taiwan (Wu and Raven, 1994). Although it is frequently cultivated as an ornamental, most reports of it as a naturalized species in the Mediterranean region of Europe appear to refer to D. inoxia (Moore, 1972).

Prevention and Control

Top of page Cultural Control

Isolated thornapple plants should be hand-pulled before they set seed, whereas larger areas of infestation are readily controlled by tillage when weeds are in the seedling stage. Cultivation becomes less effective as plants mature, because stems become woody and roots may not be completely severed. Seedlings emerge over a long period of time so repeated cultivations may be necessary to reduce the level of infestation (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Post-harvest tillage may promote seed survival as seeds decay more rapidly on the soil surface than when buried (Stoller and Wax, 1974) and there is greater loss of seed to predators under no-till than conventional tillage systems (Brust and House, 1988).

Chemical Control

D. stramonium is susceptible to a range of soil- and foliar-applied herbicides which are commonly used for selective broadleaf annual weed control. These include: acifluorfen in soyabean and groundnuts; bentazone in soyabean, groundnuts and several bean species; atrazine, cyanazine, simazine, bromoxanil or dicamba in sorghum and maize; metolachlor in maize and sorghum (in conjunction with a safener); and 2,4-D, which is effective in the seedling and young growth stages.

Summaries of active ingredients which have been used for the control of D. stramonium are provided by Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992) for Australia, Weaver and Warrick (1984) for Canada and Mamarot and Rodriquez (1997) for France. It can be effectively controlled by early post-emergence application of imazethapyr in soyabean and groundnut (Cantwell et al., 1989; Wilcut et al., 1994). Imazaquin and imazethapyr are effective in both no-till and conventional tillage situations, but crop damage can result in both systems under some weather conditions (Mills and Witt, 1989). Post-emergent applications of clomazone provide a greater degree of control under conventional than reduced tillage systems (Mills et al., 1989). Selective chemical control of Datura species can be difficult in Solanaceous crops. However, mixtures of rimsulfuron and metribuzin can be used in potato (Robinson et al., 1996), whereas clomazone can be used safely post-emergence in direct-seeded sweet pepper (Cavero et al., 1996).

Herbicide-tolerant cultivars provide an opportunity for increased flexibility of chemical control. D. stramonium can be effectively controlled by pre-emergence applications of imazethapyr in imidazolinone-tolerant maize (Sprague et al., 1997). This approach would be particularly useful where triazine-resistant populations of the weed have evolved, for example, in the USA (Williams et al., 1995).

The susceptibility of other Datura species to herbicides is generally similar to that of D. stramonium. Efficient control of D. ferox in sorghum has been achieved with fluroxypyr, atrazine, 2,4-D and picloram or a combination of atrazine banded along the crop row and inter-row cultivation (Rawson and Bath, 1981; Webb and Feez, 1989). Floroxypyr and metribuzin can be used effectively against this species in sugarcane and soyabean, respectively (Mitidieri, 1976; Webb and Feez, 1989).

Biological Control

AAL-toxin, a potent natural herbicide derived from the fungus Alternaria alternata, has been reported to provide selective control of D. stramonium at low concentrations in maize, wheat and some dicotyledonous crops, including tomato (Abbas et al., 1995; Stewart-Wade et al., 1998). Although the mycoherbicidal potential of a number of fungal pathogens has been demonstrated (Boyette and Abbas, 1994) there are no reports of commercialization.


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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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