Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So Harmless Looking, So Psychoactive, So Poisonous

While taking a walk a couple days ago, I noticed this healthy, flowering weed:

Those white, trumpet like flowers, sure do add some beauty to the landscape. But look a little closer, and you see this guy has spikey green fruit:

Some quick double checking confirmed it: this inviting plant is actually Jimson Weed, which is poisionous, though apparently abused by some as a hallucinogenic properties. It gets its name from this story:

In 1676, British soldiers were sent to stop the Rebellion of Bacon. Jamestown weed (Jimsonweed) was boiled for inclusion in a salad, which the soldiers readily ate. The hallucinogenic properties of jimsonweed took affect.

As told by Robert Beverly in The History and Present State of Virginia (1705): The soldiers presented "a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

"In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves - though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after 11 days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed."

Lest you think this story is embellished, modern descriptions of the drug's effect are pretty much the same. If it doesn't kill you, it'll give you one heck of an awful trip.

Just a gentle reminder that Mother Nature doesn't mess around. I expect someone will eventually notice this plant and yank it out. Heck, I should probably do the community a service and do just that.

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