Recently found in a couple of sites around Blackheath has been the weed Datura stramonium or Common Thornapple belonging to the nightshade Family Solanaceae. It has been noticed on sites adjacent to former agricultural land that has been disturbed by recent fires. Such behaviour lends credibility to the long viability of seeds of this species. Additionally it has been noticed producing seed while quite young.
Common thornapple is a short-lives plant that grows in disturbed sites. It is a stout herb, glabrous or sparsely hairy with non-glandular hairs. Flowers are white-lilac 6-8 cm long. Seed capsules are large and oval shaped with numerous spines varying in lengths.
The plant has a strong smell, reminiscent of Green Cestrum, a white flower and grows to about one metre.
Thornapple is highly toxic to humans, capable of causing serious illness or death. All parts of the plant, particularly the flowers, seeds and nectar are poisonous, causing thirst, increased temperatures, rapid pulse, incoherence and convulsions.
The entire plant is also poisonous to livestock and pets.
What to do if poisoning occurs:
- If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
- If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
- If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.