Characteristics of Indian Thornapple Tree (Datura metel) in the Wild

Datura metel
The Indian thornapple or Metel is a perennial shrub that grows in the wild in all parts of the tropical world. This plant is often cultivated as an ornamental plant or for its extracts because it has nutritious chemical content. 

The Indian thornapple cultivar with blackish stems looks like a garden weed. The flowers have double or triple corollas, each corolla has a dark purple and white exterior.

WARNING: All parts of this plant contain tropane alkaloids which are highly toxic and can be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and domestic animals.

 
The alkaloids contained in the Indian thornapple tree are very similar to those of mandrake, nightshade, and henbane.

Although poisonous and deadly, it is one of the 50 basic herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called Yang Jin Hua (洋金花). However, to consume Indian thornapple in any form is dangerous and should be handled with extreme care. According to the Drug & Cosmetic Act 1940 & Rule 1995, Indian thornapple is prohibited in India for use in Ayurvedic medicine.

 

Characteristics of Indian Thornapple Leaf

Datura metel Leaf
Source : flickr.com/CANTIQ UNIQUE

The leaves are oval and sometimes wide.

 

Characteristics of Indian Thornapple Flower

Datura metel Flower
Source : flickr.com/Cerlin Ng

Indian thornapple flowers measuring 15-20 cm, fragrant, and can grow singly or in multiple. Flower colors ranging from white, cream, yellow, red, and purple.

Consuming small amounts of parts of the Indian thornapple tree can cause skin flushing, headaches, hallucinations, convulsions, and even coma.

 

Characteristics of Indian Thornapple Fruit

Datura metel Fruit
Source : flickr.com/CANTIQ UNIQUE

The fruit is round slightly oval, with the skin of the fruit covered with many thorns.

 

Characteristics of Indian Thornapple Tree

Datura metel Tree
Source : flickr.com/CANTIQ UNIQUE

The Indian thornapple tree can grow 1-2 meters tall and form a shrub. The trunk is hairy, with dark violet shoots.

The Aztecs called this plant “Toloatzin”, and it has been used since centuries ago for therapeutic purposes, such as poultices for wounds, in which it acts as an anodyne.

Although the Aztecs had also warned that this tree was dangerous because it could make people convulse into a coma, many Native Americans have ignored it and instead used this plant as an entheogen for hallucinations.

Indian thornapple has been widely used by tribes around the world since ancient times to relieve pain.

 

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