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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
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History, danger surround the potent jimson weed
    #4413752 - 07/17/05 02:48 AM (11 years, 11 months ago)

History, danger surround the potent jimson weed
July 16, 2005 - ocregister.com

The boys had gone into the desert to eat a local wild plant and trip their brains out. One boy died. The survivor allegedly stuffed his friend's body into a 15-foot-deep outhouse. Then he made his way to a ranger station to report the disappearance, wearing nothing but his underwear.

California's best rescue teams searched in scorching July heat. They knew nobody survived for long in Joshua Tree National Park. Death in the desert brings odors that lure circling buzzards to help the search. But no birds arrived. Then the truth finally came tumbling out. And a bloody body was recovered from the outhouse.

While details are sketchy, it's not hard to visualize what happened on that fateful trip, if you know much about jimson weed. It is a hallucinogenic nightshade and it can kill you. Unfortunately, kids often don't respect Mother Nature's potent pharmacy. Across America, the wayside weed is sampled by the ignorant, sometimes with devastating results.

The "devil's weed," Datura inoxia, is a fast- growing shrubby herbaceous plant found from coast to coast, and from Canada to Mexico. It's identified by quite beautiful blossoms, large white trumpets at their best at dawn or dusk. They are a favorite of many moths who are lured by their scent. Following the flowers are spined "thorn apple" seedpods about the size of a golf ball. The foliage usually bears a slightly bluish cast.

It earned its oldest name from the Jamestown colony. English soldiers gathering pot herbs added it to their stew. It knocked them senseless for nearly a week. Forever after it would be known as the Jamestown weed or jimson weed despite the fact that plants have been a part of European witch potions since time immemorial.

This plant also is the stuff of American Indian ritual and can be found in many tribal rites of passage. Thirty years ago, Carlos Castaneda made famous the use of devil's weed in his book "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge." It remains a vital part of Mexican folk medicine as well. But in all these indigenous cultures the therapeutic dosages are well-understood. And plants can vary in their potency from one place to another depending on soil and climate.

There has been a recent flowering of drug-plant sites on the Internet. Termed collectively as "ethnobotanicals," these are toxic plants from around the world that can produce mind- and body-altering experiences. Such sites have brought jimson weed out of the shadows once again and made this formerly obscure knowledge available to every kid with Web access.

Datura is a nightshade that contains many of the same alkaloids as its cousins, belladonna and deadly nightshade. Atropine is the most well-known, a powerful cardiac stimulant. Other less useful components can produce notorious hallucinations of flying and wild animal shape shifters if enough is ingested. It also can result in a brutal hangover or even death.

The question arises after the outhouse episode whether this plant should be made illegal to possess.

The plants are ubiquitous and, when dried, are very difficult to identify. Another course is knowledge- based: making the plants more readily identifiable and its ill effects better known.

Few plants are as beautiful as Datura in the xeriscape garden. Their snow-white color, night-flying pollinators and evening scent are a benediction for drought-stricken landscapes. And beneath all of this lies a long history of human spirituality and medicine. Few plants share such power to cure and kill. But wisdom and common sense are required to keep it all in perspective.


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OfflineCptnGarden
fuck this site
Registered: 05/13/04
Posts: 11,945
Last seen: 8 years, 1 month
Re: History, danger surround the potent jimson weed [Re: veggie]
    #4413882 - 07/17/05 03:32 AM (11 years, 11 months ago)

stupid kids....


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