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gypsum weed seed pod

Gypsum weed seed pod

This plant is easy to identify if you’ve seen it before, but if you haven’t, watch for thick, green to purple stems bearing deeply lobed or toothed leaves. A single purple or white, tube-shaped flower emerges from various spots near the leaf bases, expanding to reach between 2 and 4 inches (5-10 cm.) in length. Jimsonweed is known for its pungent odor and aggressive summer growth.

Jimsonweed control can be challenging, since seeds from past seasons can be brought to the surface while tilling. These seeds remain viable for up to a century, and with each pod producing up to 800 seeds, the sheer number of potential jimsonweeds is staggering. Fortunately, these plants are summer annuals and do not reproduce from root sections.

Gardeners seeking jimsonweed information before new seeds scatter are at a distinct advantage in the battle against this beautiful, but treacherous plant.

What is Jimsonweed?

But before you try it at home, be aware that this Datura plant is extremely poisonous – as little as 10 ounces (280 g.) of plant materials can kill livestock; humans burning or ingesting various parts of this weed have died trying.

Nothing spoils a quiet trip through the garden quite like the sudden appearance of aggressive weeds. Although the flowers of jimsonweeds can be very beautiful, this four-foot tall (1.2 m.) weed packs with it a poisonous payload in the form of a spine-covered seedpod. Once this walnut-sized pod breaks open, control of jimsonweed becomes much more difficult.

How to Get Rid of Jimsonweeds

When attempting to control jimsonweed in the lawn, regular mowing is often all that’s necessary. Once you’ve had jimsonweed on your property, it may take many seasons to kill off all the seeds, but keeping them mowed so short that they can’t produce new seeds will help you wear the stand out.

Jimsonweed in the garden may need to be pulled by hand (wear gloves), or sprayed with an herbicide, due to the alkaloids it releases from its roots – these compounds are very dangerous to many other plants. When pulling this weed, it’s normally recommended that you bag the plant and its seeds in a plastic bag for disposal. (Since seeds remain viable for such a long period, it is a good idea to allow the bag to sit for up to a year or more.)

Jimson weed (Datura stramonium, a member of the Belladonna alkyloid family) is a plant growing naturally in West Virginia and has been used as a home remedy since colonial times. Due to its easy availability and strong anticholinergic properties, teens are using Jimson weed as a drug. Plant parts can be brewed as a tea or chewed, and seed pods, commonly known as “pods” or “thorn apples,” can be eaten. Side effects from ingesting jimson weed include tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, blurred vision, hallucinations, confusion, combative behavior, and difficulty urinating. Severe toxicity has been associated with coma and seizures, although death is rare. Treatment consists of activated charcoal and gastric lavage. Esmolol or other beta-blocker may be indicated to reduce severe sinus tachycardia. Seizures, severe hypertension, severe hallucinations, and life-threatening arrhythmias are indicators for the use of the anticholinesterase inhibitor, Physostigmine. This article reviews the cases of nine teenagers who were treated in hospitals in the Kanawha Valley after ingesting jimson weed. We hope this article will help alert primary care physicians about the abuse of jimson weed and inform health officials about the need to educate teens about the dangers of this plant.