UC IPM Online UC ANR home page UC IPM home page

UC IPM Home

SKIP navigation

 

How to Manage Pests

Identification: Weed Photo Gallery

Sacred Thornapple

Scientific name: Datura wrightii (Nightshade Family: Solanaceae)

Click on image to enlarge

Life stages of Sacred datura flower and fruit fruit mature plants leaves seeds

Sacred thornapple is a native annual or perennial broadleaf. In California it is found in the southwestern region, desert regions, central-western region, Central Valley, central and southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountains, and eastern North Coast Ranges to an elevation of 7200 feet (2200 m). It inhabits agricultural land and open, disturbed, and unmanaged sites. This plant is toxic to humans and livestock when ingested. Livestock seldom consume fresh plants because of their unpleasant scent and taste. However, livestock can consume dried foliage and large numbers of ground seed in poor quality hay or feed, causing health problems. Sacred thornapple is similar to a related annual species, jimsonweed, Datura stramonium.

Habitat

Open disturbed places, roadsides, pastures, livestock enclosures, agronomic and vegetable crop fields, orchards, vineyards, ditch banks, and disturbed, unmanaged areas.

Seedling

Seedlings germinate in May or June. The cotyledons (seed leaves) are narrowly lance shaped, pointy, and often sparsely hairy with smooth, short hairs on the upper surface. Crushed leaves have an unpleasant odor. The main stalk below each cotyledon is hairy and often deep violet. The first leaf is oval with smooth edges. Later leaves have smooth, wavy, or wavy-toothed to lobed edges.

Mature plant

Sacred thornapple grows 2 to 3 feet (60–90 cm) tall. It is widely branched and has a fleshy taproot. Leaves are 1-1/2 to 5 inches (3.7–12.5 cm) long, elliptical, asymmetrical at the base, gray green with short, soft, gray hairs. Leaves have an unpleasant scent.

Flower

Flowers bloom from April through October. They are large, 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) long and white or violet tinged. The petals are fused giving the flower a tubelike or funnel shape and five slender teeth extend from the fused petals.

Fruit

Fruit consist of hard, roughly spherical capsules that are densely covered with numerous short spines. Sacred thornapple fruit hang from a stalk and have slender spines distinguishing them from the jimsonweed fruit, which are more oval, stand erect from their stalk, and have thicker, more robust spines.

Seeds

Seeds are brown to tan, rounded triangular to slightly kidney shaped, flattened, and have grooved edges.

Reproduction

Reproduces by seed.

Related species/Similar looking plants

Jimsonweed

More information


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Accessibility   /PMG/WEEDS/sacred_datura.html revised: January 8, 2014. Contact webmaster.