Home Gardening Tips Thorn Apple: Identification, Control, and Safety Precautions

Thorn Apple: Identification, Control, and Safety Precautions

by Gregory
3 minutes read

Thorn Apple: A Poisonous Weed to Watch Out For

What is Thorn Apple?

Thorn apple, also known as Datura stramonium, is a non-native weed that can be found in fields, gardens, and empty lots. It gets its name from its large, prickly fruit that looks like an apple. Thorn apple also has large, white or purple flowers that resemble bindweed. It’s originally from warmer parts of North and Central America, and while it’s not common in the UK, it’s becoming more prevalent during hot summers. Gardeners often unknowingly bring it into their gardens through contaminated bird seed.

Is Thorn Apple Poisonous?

Yes, thorn apple is poisonous to humans, farm animals, and pets. It belongs to the nightshade family, which includes other poisonous plants like tomatoes and potatoes. If ingested, the powerful toxins in thorn apple can cause hallucinations and even death.

Identifying Thorn Apple

Thorn apple plants grow to be about 1 meter tall. They have wide leaves with coarse teeth, and their flowers bloom from July to October in white or purple. The most distinctive feature of thorn apple is its spiny, apple-shaped fruit. Sometimes, the fruits may be smooth instead of spiny.

Getting Rid of Thorn Apple

Since thorn apple seeds can stay alive for many years, new plants may sprout in areas that have been disturbed. Fortunately, thorn apple plants are relatively easy to remove. You can simply pull them out by hand or hoe the seedlings.

If you pull out the plants before they produce seeds, you can compost them. However, if they have already set seed, you must dispose of them properly. Burn the plants or bury them at least 60 centimeters deep in the soil to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Safety Precautions

Always wear gloves when handling thorn apple, and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. The toxins in the plant can be absorbed through the skin.

Additional Information

  • Thorn apple is a non-native weed that is becoming more common in the UK.
  • It is poisonous to humans, animals, and pets, and can cause hallucinations and death if ingested.
  • Thorn apple plants are easy to identify by their broad leaves, white or purple flowers, and spiny fruits.
  • To get rid of thorn apple, pull out or hoe the plants before they set seed.
  • If the plants have already set seed, burn them or bury them deep in the soil to prevent the seeds from germinating.

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