Jimsonweed Datura stramonium
IDENTIFICATION — One of the best ways to identify this annual is by the 2- to 5-in.-long five-sided, trumpet-shaped flowers. They’re sweet-smelling and either white or light purple, like the illustration at right. Each flower lasts one day, but there will be enough to keep the plant blooming from late spring into early fall. The egg-shaped fruit is covered with stiff prickles. In the illustration it’s mature and splitting open into four segments to release dozens of small black seeds. These seeds, and all the plants’ parts, are poisonous.
Growing 2 to 5 ft. tall with an upright habit, the hollow stems can be green to red-purple and covered with fine hairs. Large 3- to 5-in.-long leaves are triangular with deeply toothed edges. Crush or just touch one and it’ll release a disagreeable odor.
FAVORITE CONDITIONS — Typically you find this weed in cultivated gardens, as well as perennial and shrub borders. It’ll thrive in areas where there’s little competition and it has room to grow.
CONTROL —Jimsonweed’s roots are thick and dense. But they don’t grow deeply into the soil, so you can pull them out easily. Repeatedly mowing or cutting the plant short is effective at keeping it from setting seeds. Systemic herbicides, like Roundup®, usually work well if you apply them to young, actively growing plants. However, jimsonweed is showing signs of becoming resistant to herbicides, so hoeing or pulling may be your best bet for control.
Check out a great tool for weeding, planting and more — the Soil Knife at right!