Plants

Stramonium

The beauty of the devil: the stramonium

The beauty of its flowers must not be misleading. Stramonium, or datura stramonium, is one of the most poisonous plants in Europe. Powerful hallucinogen, in certain parts of the world its leaves are “smoked”. The plant is not equally toxic in all its parts. Most loaded of the powerful alkaloids are the leaves. The seeds are also hallucinogenic, but less poisonous than the foliage. Ancient legends narrate that thorn-based drinks were used in witches’ sabbaths. However, its effects are not only negative. Well dosed, it is used in herbal medicine as a cure for coughs, rheumatism and colic. In a minimal dose it is also present in anti-asthma cigarettes. Originally from tropical America, it was imported to Europe after 1500. We can find it spontaneously near ruins or abandoned gardens.

The varieties of the stramonium


There are not many varieties of “datura”, fewer than ten. The most famous is, in fact, the stramonium. It is an annual plant that develops a huge bush. Its flowers are large and funnel-shaped. The fruit, which is also called “thorny apple”, grows when the plant loses its flower. The shape of its leaves vaguely resembles that of the oak, but they are dark green and slightly velvety. It blooms from early spring to mid-autumn. Other varieties of datura are the “metel”, or devil’s trumpet, and the datura inoxia, which is of South American origin. For their ornamental appearance they are grown in several Italian gardens. Cultivation in the presence of children is strongly discouraged, as they could inadvertently ingest parts of the plant, with disastrous effects.

Therapeutic use of thorny datura


In the past it was used, together with other herbs, to produce cigarettes that were used to calm asthma attacks and relieve bronchial asthma. This practice was gradually abandoned, as major addiction problems were highlighted. Datura stramonium also has hallucinogenic effects, it is therefore good to use it only and exclusively under the strict supervision of the doctor. In the pharmacies of the convents of 1500, it was always present and widely used. The medical friars made remedies with its leaves and seeds. Dosing it perfectly, they used it as a calming agent for severe coughs and bronchial problems, very common diseases at the time, given the low propensity to heat the rooms. The oil extracted from the leaves of the stramonium,

Stramonium: Cultivate the Jimson weed


Once we are aware of the danger of this plant, we can also cultivate it. It adapts quite well to temperate climates; it does not like excesses, so it will be planted in mixed areas, that is, not in full sun but not even in total shade. The waterings must be regular but never abundant, it suffers from watery stagnations. It also suffers from frost, so if you have it in a pot, during the winter season it should be planted in a heated area. Always check that no part of it can end up in the hands of children, it is really very poisonous. From its fruits, which are reminiscent of chestnut urchins, you can get the seeds and use them to reproduce other plants. Sowing should be done in early spring. The “datura arborea”, on the other hand, reproduces by woody cutting,

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