Brooklyn, NY. My Urban Forager posting on jimsonweed made today’s Metro section of the New York Times (“In This Wicked Weed“), and it was thrilling to see this somewhat dangerous beauty there. I’ve been looking for Datura ever since my editor pointed it out to me, and was excited to find it in Gowanus recently. (Andy originally wanted me to take it and write about my experiences for the Local, but with common names like “mad weed” and “crazy weed”—and since I’m not a college student with fantasies of being Hunter S. Thompson—I passed). It’s growing like crazy all across the country from NYC to southern California.
Datura stramonium is an extremely beautiful plant with a scent that’s reminiscent of tahini meets peanut butter, although I read another writer suggesting it smelled like stale semen (he used another word).
In India, Datura metel is considered Shiva’s plant (thank you @mad100) and used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Many Native American communities used D. innoxia or inoxia for vision quests and rites of passage, but a few saw D. stramonium as simply being poisonous.
Most accounts of recreational drug use of the plant on Erowid have been harrowing—with the exception of one user who had taken the time to grow the plant from seed, reared it to maturity, prayed to it, and collected the seeds when it was mature. Most Datura users probably aren’t going to be doing that, and experienced terrible hot flashes, delirium, chasing phantom cigarettes, and encounters with imaginary combative people. Even Carlos Castenada’s Don Juan was loathe to experience Datura again, stating it’d almost killed him.
I’m not one to say that a plant is wicked (despite the Times title)—I believe in thoroughly respecting a plant’s properties for what they are, positive or negative. I’m just not planning on making a salad with it.