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is a strikingly massive plant -- and a deadly plant. It contains
numerous poisonous alkaloids including atropine, hyoscyamine, and
hyoscine and every year these produce a number of deaths in the United
States. Datura wrightii's narcotic and hallucinogenic properties have made it
part of sacred rituals and wild-eyed experimentations -- both of which
have resulted in numerous deaths.
Many, many plants of our world are in whole or in part, palatable and nutritional; some plants can be eaten raw, some after boiling, drying, cooking, etc. But raw or otherwise, Datura wrightii is just plain deadly.
The genus name was given by Linnaeus in 1753 and in 1859 Eduard Regel (1815-1892) named the species for Charles Wright, a botanist in the Southwest who collected Datura wrightii in Texas in the 1850s. (More biographical information about Wright.)
Datura wrightii (Sacred Datura, Jimsonweed) Solanaceae (Nightshade Family)
Semi-desert. Openings. Spring, summer.
Sacred Datura is an easy plant to identify and a fabulous flower to gaze on. Leaves are up to 10 inches long, flared trumpet flowers are 5-9 inches long, and the overall plant is often several feet high and a sprawling four or five feet across.
Stanley Welsh, author of A Utah Flora, has this to say about Datura wrightii: "The flowers are the largest of any native plant in Utah, and are sweetly scented. The herbage smells like a wet dog".
"Datura" apparently comes from either the Arabic "Tatorah", the Hindustani "Dhatura", or the Latin "dare". According to Harrington (in his Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains) "Jimsonweed "is a corruption of "Jamestown Weed", a name given to a related Datura that poisoned a number of soldiers in Jamestown in 1676.
Range map © John Kartesz,
Species present in state and native
County Color Key
Species present and not rare
Range map for Datura wrightii