The jimson-weed is very common in Kentucky. I have not seen so much of
it in the east and north, but it appears to grow pretty nearly over the
whole United States. It is from one to five feet in height, and an
ill-smelling weed, though first cousin to the beautiful, cultivated
datura, which is a highly prized garden plant. The stem is smooth,
green, stout, and branching. The flower is large, sometimes four inches
and trumpet-shaped. There are several varieties of this weed; on
some the flower is white, on others the five, flaring, sharp-pointed
lobes are stained with lavender and magenta. The calyx is long,
close-fitting, and light green. The leaves are rather large; they are
angularly oval in shape and are coarsely notched. The fruit is a
prickly, egg-shaped capsule which contains the seeds. It is these seeds
which are sometimes eaten with serious results, and children have been
poisoned by putting the flowers in their mouths.
Emetics should immediately be administered to throw the poison off the
stomach, then hot, strong coffee should be given. Sometimes artificial
respiration must be resorted to. In all cases of poisoning a physician
should be called if possible.
The habit of chewing leaves and stems without knowing what they are
should be suppressed when on the trail. It is something like going
through a drug store and sampling the jars of drugs as you pass, and the
danger of poisoning is almost as great.