Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not Quite Paradise

I wish that my gardening posts could always be about high yields in the vegetable and fruit category and beautiful perfect flowers to photograph and enjoy at leisure.
It will never happen that way in this life.
Glancing out the sliding doors this morning [in response to insistant trumpeting from a starving horse] I noticed a clump of butterfly weed covered in butterflies.
I picked up the camera and started out.
Beyond the butterfly weed were some prickly-looking plants with tubular white flower buds.
From the rag-bag mind, the term "jimson weed" floated to the surface.
I compared my own photo to those on the internet, confirmed that Jimson weed [a form of datura] is not a desirable plant.  It is toxic--to humans, to horses and cattle.
Having imparted this information to J. I trailed back out to the flower border which is languishing in what we are told is unusual heat.
A first cluster of bloom on the Hansa rugosa is sheltering Japanese beetles.
After breakfast, J. hitched up the mower and cut the rather scrubby area where the jimson weed was growing.
That is the ancient pear tree, heavily laden and leaning.

As Flower Lady pointed out in her comment, which popped up right after I published this post, not all datura plants are jimson weed. Dear friends in Vermont raised an old variety prized for the beauty of its flowers and shared seed with me. The plants are very decorative, but the leaves do have the nasty odor. Toxicity is shared to some degree by all species of datura, acording to my admittedly limited research.  One article I skimmed listed jimson weed among a category of "witches weeds."  Evidently one could request a bad potion for a rival and one of the more common ingredients might be ground datura seeds.
I was lazy in posting any links, so here, now, are two of the many available.  Its interesting reading for anyone inclined to botanicals, folklore or herbal dosing.


  1. Jimson weed does have different leaves than datura. Sorry to hear it is not good for your critters.

    I love your roses, and you can't tell that the JB's are there at all.

    None of us live in paradise yet, but we will one day, with beautiful gardens beyond belief.


  2. FL; Thank you for prompting me to add a bit to the original post. There are now two links for anyone interested to learn more about the various datura, and jimson weed in particular.
    The Bible, particularly the OT is full of plant lore and seedtime and harvest analogies. The language is so poetic I think it could be enjoyed even by gardeners
    who don't profess a particular Christian affiliation.

  3. I debated about buying Datura seed this year, after i'd seen it in a store in town. Beautiful flowers . . . I got the "connection" after a friend mentioned that it was used medicinally in the Jean M Auel books .... have you read any of these? Clan of the Cave Bear et al . . .

  4. BB; I think the Auel series is one I've been tempted by but haven't delved into.
    I enjoyed the vintage datura the year I raised it, but was very careful of the seed pods--not something I would bring into the house where cats could chew on them. I've seen some very elegant ones in the Thompson and Morgan catalogs. I also raised Monks' Hood, and felt ill at ease as the grandchildren were small at the time and often in the garden with me. There are so many plants with toxic effects--I think the ones I am leary of may be those which have a bad reputation via "herbals' and folklore.

  5. What an interesting plant ...but I think I would prefer to remove it if it were close by.