Datura wrightii – Sacred Thorn-apple

Datura wrightii - Sacred Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed (white flower)

Datura wrightii - Sacred Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed (purple flower)

Datura wrightii - Sacred Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed (fruit)

Datura wrightii - Sacred Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Datura wrightii

Synonym: Datura meteloides

Common Names: Sacred Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual, Perennial

Growth Habit: Subshrub, Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Upland. It grows in dry, sandy washes and in disturbed areas.

Flower Color: White, Pale violet-purple

Flowering Season: Spring (late), Summer, Fall

Height: To 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, but usually less

Description: The flowers are mainly nocturnal and open late in the day and then close sometime the following morning. The showy flowers are tubular, up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, 6 inches (15 cm) or more wide, and have a puberulent (fuzzy) corolla and 5 very long, narrow lobe tips. The flowers are followed by round, up to 2 inch (5 cm) wide, spiny, velvety, drooping seed capsules that contain tan seeds. The leaves are grayish green, ovate, velvety, and may have a few, large teeth and rippled margins. The usually purplish stems are covered with fuzzy, downcurved hairs.

There are 4 other Datura species found here, and they are all somewhat similar to this plant, but Desert Thorn-apple (Datura discolor) has smaller flowers and a purple-streaked corolla, Jimsonweed (D. stramonium) has smaller flowers, a hairless corolla and fruit, sharp-toothed to lobed leaves, and dark brown seeds, Pricklyburr (D. inoxia) has smaller, narrower flowers, and Chinese Thorn-apple (D. quercifolia) has narrower, purplish flowers and deeply lobed leaves.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – Skin contact with the sap may cause contact dermatitis in susceptible persons.

Poisonous – All parts of this plant are poisonous and contain toxic tropane alkaloids including hyoscyamine (an isomer of atropine) and scopolamine (hyoscine). The seeds are hallucinogenic, but ingestion can be fatal.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae – Potato family
Genus: Datura L. – jimsonweed
Species: Datura wrightii Regel – sacred thorn-apple

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map