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   Datura wrightii 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 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

Datura wrightii

Datura wrightii

Datura wrightii

Datura wrightii (Sacred Datura, Jimsonweed) Solanaceae (Nightshade Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring, summer.
McElmo Canyon, June 12, 2007.

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,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Datura wrightii  

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