General characteristics of Stramonium – Datura Stramonium
The Stramonium, scientific name Datura Stramonium, is a perennial herbaceous plant of the family of Solanaceae, native to America and spread spontaneously in the sub-tropical regions and in the temperate climates of Asia and Europe. In Italy, this poisonous but very ornamental plant grows undisturbed near abandoned houses, in uncultivated fields, along hilly and wooded paths and on the edges of roads.
The stramonium is a shrubby herbaceous plant that in full vegetative development is about 2 meters high. It has a sturdy and deep tap root, fusiform and fleshy with numerous secondary or adventitious roots.
The stem it is erect and has various pale green branchy bifurcations bearing very large and expanded leaves.
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The leaves, leathery, simple and alternating, are inserted on the stems by means of long fleshy peduncles. They have an oval lamina, an asymmetrical base and a toothed-jagged edge.
THE flowers of the stramonium blossom in profusion between the leaf axils and on the apical ends of the stems. They are hermaphrodites, up to 10 cm long, with an elongated calyx composed of 5 green sepals with welded lobes.
From the glass develops a showy and long bell-shaped corolla composed of 5 welded, sharp, pleated petals of a candid white color, sometimes with slight purple hues.
The very showy and decorative flowers, up to 10 cm long, open in the evening and, even if they do not give off a pleasant scent, they attract numerous butterflies and pollinating insects. In fact, pollination is entomogamous.
THE fruits they are globose capsules formed by 4 fused lodges covered by numerous spines (hence the common name thorny walnut given to the plant). In fact, the capsules change color as they mature they go from bright green to light brown and, once dry, they open, letting the numerous seeds contained in them fall to the ground.
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THE seeds similar to reniform peppercorns, they are black, about 3 mm long and with a wrinkled integument.
The Stramonio plant blooms gradually in the summer-autumn period, from July to October.
Cultivation of Stramonium – Datura Stramonium
The common Stramonio even if it is a highly poisonous plant due to the high concentration of alkaloids is cultivated for ornamental purposes in pots, in rustic gardens and in coastal ones for its resistance to brackish winds. For this purpose, plants obtained from seeds or purchased already grown in a nursery are used.
The stramonium grows well in partial shade and in full sun as long as it is sheltered from strong winds. It fears the cold, frost and hail and therefore in regions characterized by an adverse climate we recommend cultivation in pots.
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If grown in the ground it has no particular needs as it adapts to any type of soil even if it prefers loose and well-drained soil.
The stramonium needs frequent and constant irrigation as due to the considerable expansions of the leaf blades it loses a lot of water due to evapotranspiration. The soil must therefore always be kept moist, never arid but not soaked.
The stramonium in order to grow strong and vigorous requires nutrients especially with a high content of potassium (K) and phosphorus (P). Generally every 15 days a fertilizer in liquid form diluted in the watering water, diluted according to the doses recommended by the producer, is administered.
Stramonium: cultivation in pots
This plant very similar to Datura for its elegant appearance, abundant flowering and for the few cultural needs is also cultivated in pots on balconies, terraces and courtyards, despite being famous for its toxicity.
The pot that must host it must have adequate dimensions for the development of its robust root and for the dimensions of its stems which generally exceed one meter in height. A pot with a diameter of 25-30 cm is used for each single plant.
The soil must be specific for pot plants and mixed with a good dose of sand in order to increase drainage; expanded clay or pieces of earthenware can be used as drainage material to put on the bottom.
After the planting, the pot should be placed in a sunny place but sheltered from the wind. It should be watered more frequently in the summer months but without excess and the saucer must be a few centimeters larger than the pot itself.
It must be constantly fertilized with a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium to favor the continuous production of its beautiful flowers.
After the plant has been planted, the pot should be placed in a sunny place sheltered from the wind.
In winter, as the plant suffers from the cold and especially the night frost, it is advisable to move it to a protected place.
It must be done when the roots come out of the drainage holes of the draining water. New fresh, soft, calcareous soil and a larger pot than the previous one are used.
Multiplication of Stramonium
The Stramonio easily reproduces by seed.
Sowing takes place at the end of winter, in February. The seeds are germinated in a seedbed containing a loose and soft substrate, kept constantly humid. The seedlings should be left to strengthen and then planted, in the garden or in pots, in March-April.
Parasites and diseases of the Stramonium
It is a plant that fears root rot due to water stagnation.
Suffers from iron chlorosis which manifests itself with the yellowing of the leaves.
Among the animal parasites, a small mite that attacks the plant when the local climate is too dry is sensitive to the attack of the red spider.
Much attention must be paid to the leaves: if they wither while retaining the green color, they suffer from a lack of water; if they wither after becoming yellowish, they suffer from excess water; if, on the other hand, they discolour uniformly, it means that the soil is deficient in iron and is therefore affected by chlorosis.
Cures and treatments
In winter, plants grown in pots must be transferred to a protected place while for those grown in the ground it is sufficient to protect the base with a light mulch of straw.
In case of iron deficiency, an administration of sequestrene reinvigorates the color of the leaves in about ten days.
Components of Stramonio
Stramonium contains alkaloids, including scopolamine and atropine, substances which, despite being poisonous, are used for therapeutic purposes to calm asthma attacks.
Properties of Stramonio
This plant is called devil’s weed ed witches grass, with reference to the narcotic, sedative and hallucinogenic properties due to the substances present in its plant parts.
Despite the degree of poisonousness, in the past the Stramonium plant was used for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of respiratory diseases, asthma and paralysis of the bronchi, therapies that were then discontinued due to the strong dependence that the substances induced more harmful than the same pathologies.
Stramonium in Homeopathy
Today the ultra-diluted active ingredients of Stramonium are exploited in Homeopathy albeit in limited cases, for the treatment of convulsive phenomena, for neuroses accompanied by panic crises and for hallucinatory phenomena with delirium.
Use in phytotherapy
Currently, phytotherapy uses Stramonium only as a natural remedy against bronchial asthma, to be taken only in the form of smokes and tinctures.
It is also recommended to treat various pathologies of children: anxiety states, personality disorders, tendency to aggression, hyperactivity and phobias such as the fear of bio or light. terror of the dark and loneliness.
Uses of Stramonio in gardening
This beautiful plant, with large white or purple flowers, in recent years has also been re-evaluated as an ornamental in the ground and as a pot on balconies and terraces.
Is stramonium a poisonous plant?
Like the Mandrake, the Belladonna or Atropa belladonna, the Stramonio is also in the list of poisonous plants for humans, dogs and cats and pets.
Cultivation in pots and in the garden should therefore be avoided in the presence of children and baby animals. The danger is linked only to the ingestion of some part of it.
Varieties and species of Datura
It is an arboreal plant that can reach 2 meters in height typical of South America,
Originally from China, the plant despite being known for its high toxicity is used for medicinal purposes.
A species with very fragrant white or yellow flowers grown in gardens for flower bed borders.
Known as “metella walnut” or “devil’s trumpet”, Is a species coming from China and is more rarely encountered spontaneously. It develops horizontally reaching a height of about 3 meters. It has often purple-black branches with gray-green leaves. It produces lilac-colored trumpet flowers and thornless fruits. It is a highly poisonous plant due to the high concentration of powerful tropane alkaloids, present in all areas of the plant and mainly in the seeds.
A variety about 1 meter high which produces fragrant cream-white flowers during the flowering period.
The common names of Stramonio, devil’s weed ed witches grass, refer to its narcotic, sedative and hallucinogenic properties while the common names,thorny apple tree is poison nut, allude to the particular aspect of its fruits.
To the same family of the Stramonio belong some well-known vegetables such as: tomato, eggplant, pepper, potato, etc.