Datura discolor, also called the desert thorn-apple, is an herbaceous annual plant native to the Sonoran Desert of western North America, where it grows in sandy soils and washes. All parts of the plant contain a mix of alkaloids that are potentially lethal when enough is ingested. Deaths from careless recreational use of Datura and related plants are frequently reported.
The species was first described in 1833. The specific epithet discolor, meaning "various colors," refers to its upward-growing trumpet-shaped flowers, which are white in the bell, and pale to dark violet from the narrow part of the bell to the base. The plant itself is an upright or low-lying shrub that can grow to 4.5 feet (1.4 m) tall. Its foliage is light green, and its stalks have conspicuous purple stripes. The ovate-shaped leaves can be whole or toothed.
Datura discolor has the largest flowers (up to 6.5 in or 170 mm in diameter) of any Datura species, which makes it attractive for garden cultivation. The flowers open for only one night and wither the following day. Its seed capsule is thorny like most other Daturas, and can be up to 3 in (76 mm) long and 2.5 in (64 mm) in diameter. The species' natural distribution area stretches from Mexico to the Southwestern U.S., and the Caribbean Islands. It is a sun-loving plant which does well underneath overhanging eaves that can protect its flowers from damage by rainfall.
All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or other animals, including livestock and pets. In some places it is prohibited to buy, sell or cultivate Datura plants.
- Preissel, Ulrike; Preissel, Hans-Georg (2002). Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn Apples. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. pp. 106–129. ISBN 1-55209-598-3.
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