Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
The Thorn Apple (Datura stramonium syn. D. inermis, D.s. var. chalybea, D.s. var. tatula and D. tatula) is also known as angel’s trumpet, devil’s trumpet, false castor oil, jimson/jamestown weed, man tuo luo, moonflower and purple thorn apple. It is not related to the castor oil plant or other plants called moonflower (all of which are in different families, both to it and to each other). It is in the same family as ashwagandha and deadly nightshade.
It’s a half-hardy annual which can reach a height of 1.5m (4’6″) and spread of 1m (3′) in a single season! It prefers full sun and well drained soil, but it has a very strong unpleasant smell, so it’s best to put it somewhere away from the house and any garden seating areas.
Cultivation and harvest
Sow 3 seeds to a pot in early Spring under cover, and thin to the strongest one. Plant out in late Spring/early Summer leaving space to develop, so at least 1m (3′) apart. Harvest leaves when the plant is in full flower and dry for later use.
Cultivation is restricted as a noxious weed in several US states and certain other countries. Use of this plant is illegal in some countries — check local laws. Keep away from Solanaceae crops (eg. tomato, eggplant/aubergine, sweet pepper, chilli pepper, potato).
Contra-indications and warnings
NB: All parts of this plant are very poisonous. Only suitable for use by registered medical practitioners.
Thorn apple is used internally for asthma, fever from inflammations, pain from intestinal parasites, Parkinson’s disease, and externally for abscesses, dandruff, fistulas and severe neuralgia. Use with extreme caution and only if alternative remedies are not available.
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