The world is filled with wonders, and out of God’s laziness that we encounter so many of these wonders and find out their insides get us fucked up. That’s the case with Gawker’s find of toxic Jimsonweed in a patch of weeds on a concrete median at the corner of Lafayette and Prince in Nolita. The article details the history of Jimsonweed, and a hilarious encounter between British troops and the plant:
They turned natural fools upon it for several day… In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves – though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. …after 11 days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed.
Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) contains several tropane alkaloids, atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine. These are anticholinergic or deliriant drugs. They block the action of acetylcholine in our nervous system. This renders them useful for eye surgery, calming stomach problems, treating extremely low heart rates, and for reversing the effect of poisoning by nerve agents like Sarin or VX.
These toxic alkaloids are common to nearly all plants in the Solanaceae family, with notable exceptions being potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. They’re found worldwide. Besides all the plants in the genus Datura, there’s Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), Stinking nightshade (Hyoscyamus niger), Henbane bells (Genus: Scopolia), Angel’s trumpets (Genus: Brusmansia), and Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum). Atropine, Hyoscyamine, and Scopolamine derive their names from these plants, and have long been associated with medical and magical uses.
Some are fantastic ornamental plants and some are weeds. As ornamental plants, they’re planted worldwide to look good, and weeds don’t really need an explanation of why they can survive. Birds eat the fruit produced and spread the seeds. The circle of life for plants involves a lot of bird poop.
Don’t bother eating them. Delirium is not a good time. Confusion, hallucinations, amnesia, high suggestibility, euphoria or dysphoria, seizures, coma, and death. So even if you have a good time, you won’t remember it.