Datura wrightii (Sacred Thorn-apple)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sacred Datura, Western Jimsonweed, Angel's Trumpet, Indian Apple, Moonflower
Genus:Datura
Family:Solanaceae (Potato)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:southwestern US
Habitat:part shade, sun; sandy or gravelly soil; roadsides, waste areas, gardens
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:2 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flower] Stalked flowers are single in the leaf axils, branch tips, and forks of branching stems. Flowers are funnel-shaped, up to 9½ inches long, to 5+ inches across when fully open, white to purple-tinged, with 5 petal lobes each with a slender tooth at the tip. Inside the tube are 5 stamens and a single style that slightly extend beyond the floral tube. The calyx cupping the flower is tubular, cylindric to narrowly egg-shaped, to 4+ inches long with 5 sharply pointed lobes at the tip. Flower stalks are erect to ascending in flower, up to ½ inch long. The calyx and flower stalks are densely covered in short, velvety hairs. Flowers open in the evening and wither by noon.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, dark green, mostly egg-shaped in outline, 1½ to 6 inches long, to 4 inches wide, pointed at the tip, rounded to somewhat heart-shaped and asymmetric at the base, on hairy stalks up to 2 inches long. The edges may be somewhat wavy and have large, coarse, rounded to pointed teeth. The upper surface is minutely hairy, the lower densely covered in short, velvety hairs, especially along veins.

[photo of stem] Stems are erect to ascending, round to weakly angled in cross-section, densely covered in short, velvety hairs, and many branched creating a bushy appearance often wider than high.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Flower stalks become nodding in fruit, the remains of the calyx surrounding the base like a short skirt. Fruit is a round capsule 1 to 1½ inches diameter, densely covered in velvety hairs and numerous prickles, maturing from green to light yellowish-brown and splitting into 4 parts at maturity.

[photo of seed] Inside are numerous brown to red-brown, flattened, kidney-shaped seeds 4 to 6 mm (to ¼ inch) long.

Notes:

Sacred Thorn-apple has only been recorded 3 times in Minnesota, two of which were found around Winona well over 100 years ago. It is native to southwestern North America where its native habitat is open, sandy soil but occasionally pops up on roadsides, empty lots, and other waste places as far east and north as New England. We grew it from purchased seed and it did persist after the first year so it is hardy in Minnesota, though rarely escapes cultivation. The entire plant is toxic but it has still been cultivated as a medicinal as well as an ornamental plant.

The flowers are much like other Datura species, though twice or more the size of the other species recorded in Minnesota: Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium); D. stramonium also has fruit on erect stalks where D. wrightii fruit is nodding. Datura inoxia (or D. innoxia) is sometimes considered a synonym for D. wrightii, sometimes considered a separate species; it is reported to have all white flowers 6 to 8 inches (16 to 20 cm) long with 10 teeth on the petals where D. wrightii has white or purple-tinged flowers 8 to 9½ inches (20 to 24 cm) long with 5 teeth.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in the garden.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Nancy Paramo - Vadnis Heights
on: 2019-01-25 18:39:33

I gathered seeds from a Datura growing around a mailbox on the side of the road in a well groomed neighborhood this past fall. I plan to plant them this spring. I also pass one about 40 minutes away, just across the boarder in Hudson, WI. It is similarly around a road sign at the edge of someone’s well-kept yard.

Posted by: Maggie Merkow - Long Lake (near MPLS)
on: 2019-10-18 18:46:25

I bought 8 seeds on line for purpose of growing some plants and getting more seeds. Now I have tons of seeds. Wondering if anyone sees a problem with planting seeds in my prairie.

Posted by: Cheryl Keller - Faribault
on: 2020-08-13 22:56:38

I noticed this large leafed plant assuming it was sunflowers I had planted. Instead it was this gorgeous white trumpet flower and it literally bloomed overnight once it started showing buds.

Posted by: Jan Morsching - Elysian
on: 2020-09-02 10:31:19

I noticed this plant on September 1st because the large white blossoms just popped out. It was located around a non-mowed area of our farm where several wildflowers and weeds grow. It was among the milkweeds and goldenrods. I had to research several sites to find out that this plant was the sacred thorn-apple plant or datura wrightii.

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