Mystery Nightshade

Jim McKenney
Wed, 25 Aug 2010 11:45:46 PDT
The related Datura meteloides (other names are used for it) is now blooming
very beautifully in some local gardens. This produces larger flowers than
those of D. stramonium and the flowers have a delicious citrus fragrance. In
dry places (such as in the rain shadow of the house) these are hardy here
and eventually form big shrubby masses which sprawl six feet wide. 

The roots can be dug and stored inside during the winter in cold areas –
don’t let them dry out too much. 


If you’re thinking about fooling around with jimson weed, read this. In
fact, even if you’re not thinking about fooling around with it, you might
enjoy reading this. 

Here’s Robert Beverly’s account, originally published in 1705 (lifted from
wikipedia) . I have a hunch that this is the most frequently quoted passage
from Beverly’s work: 

The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to
be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the
world. This being an early plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd
salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon
(1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a
very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several
days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at
it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like
a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly
kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance
more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

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. Indeed, they were not very cleanly;
for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been
prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days
returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed. – The
History and Present State of Virginia, 1705[11]

Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

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