Material usesThere are no material uses listed for Datura metel.
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Problems, pests & diseases
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Prefers a rich light sandy soil and an open sunny position. Grows best in a fertile calcareous soil. This species is extremely susceptible to the various viruses that afflict the potato family (Solanaceae), it can act as a centre of infection so should not be grown near potatoes or tomatoes. There are a number of named varieties selected for their ornamental value. The flowers have an exotic fragrance, though the bruised leaves have an unpleasant smell. This species is closely related to D. innoxia.
Sow the seed in individual pots in early spring in a greenhouse. Put 3 or 4 seeds in each pot and thin if necessary to the best plant. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 6 weeks at 15°c. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Especially in areas with hot summers, it is worthwhile trying a sowing outdoors in situ in mid to late spring.
E. Asia - S. China, India. Naturalized in the Mediterranean.
The leaves and roots are bruised, mixed with water and left to stand for several hours. The liquid is then drawn off and drunk. This is a highly narcotic drink, producing a stupefying effect that it is not easy to remove. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity[K].
The whole plant, but especially the leaves and seed, is anaesthetic, anodyne, antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, bronchodilator, hallucinogenic, hypnotic and mydriatic. It has a wide range of applications in India, including in the treatment of epilepsy, hysteria, insanity, heart diseases, fever with catarrh, diarrhoea, skin diseases etc. In China it is used in the treatment of asthma. Great caution is advised since excess doses cause hallucinations, severe intoxication and death. The toxic dose is very close to the medicinal dose so this plant should only be used under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes above on toxicity. The plant contains the alkaloids hyoscyamine, hyoscine and atropine. Atropine dilates the pupils and is used in eye surgery. Total alkaloid content of the leaves is 0.426%, which is mainly atropine. The seeds contain 0.426% alkaloids, which is mainly hyoscyamine. The roots contain 0.35% hyoscyamine. An extract of the flowers is used as an anaesthetic - 3 - 5g applied orally produces a general anaesthesia within 5 minutes and lasting 5 - 6 hours.
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