Contributor: Pankaj Oudhia
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Datura or Dhattura, Datura stramonium L.
In India Datura stramonium L., Solanaceae, (Syn. D. tatula L.), a native to Mexico, is known as dhatura (Bengali, Gujrati, and Marathi), dhattura, unmatta, kanaka, shivpriya (Sanskrit), and ummatta (Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese and Malyalam). In most parts of India it grows as a wasteland weed (Oudhia and Tripathi 2000a,b) but is cultivated for its alkaloids in some parts of India and in Europe (Chandra and Pandey 1989). Other species of Datura reported in India include Datura innoxia Mill. (syn. D. metel Sims), common name sadahdhatura; and Datura metel L. (syn. D. alba Nees Syn. D. fastuosa L. common name kaladhatur. In India, D. stramonium is considered a valuable medicine. Datura was known to the ancient Hindu physicians who regarded it as intoxicant, emetic, digestive, and heating. The whole plant is considered as narcotic, anodyne, and antispasmodic. It has properties analogous to those of belladonna. Seed is considered to have a strong aphrodisiac effects. According to Ayurveda, seeds are acrid, bitter, tonic, febrifuge, anthelmintic, alexiteric, emetic, and useful in leucoderma, skin disorders, ulcers, bronchitis, jaundice and piles (Agharkar 1991). Dried leaves, flowering tops and seeds are used in indigenous medicine in the treatment of asthma. Leaves and seeds possess narcotic properties and sometimes used for criminal poisoning. Datura leaves are an integrated part of herbal cigarettes available in Indian markets Chief alkaloids of D. stramonium are hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and atropine. Alkaloid atropine is used as stimulant for central nervous system and in form of sulphate, to dilate the pupil. In homoeopathic cystem of medicine, a widely used drug named stramonium is prepared from mature seed of D. stramonium, and is considered to act on the human brain (Ghosh 1988).
Datura stramonium is a bushy, smooth, foetid annual. The branching stem is spreading and leafy. Leaves are generally light dull green, ovate to triangular ovate. Flowers are axillary, erect, white, and sweet scented (especially at night). The average length of flower is about 3 inches. Fruits are as large as walnuts and full of thorns (hence the English name "thorn apple"). Seeds are black (Lindley 1985).
In the United States and Australia, D. stramoinium is considered a serious weed (Narwal 1994). Many studies conducted around the world have revealed that the alkaloids present in this plant are harmful to crops. A study by Mothes (1995) revealed that the alkaloids scopolamine and hyoscyamine are produced in the roots and translocated to the leaves and seeds. In the early stages of growth, the alkaloids are evenly distributed throughout the plant but with age became localized in fruits (Manske 1950). Stimulatory allelopathic effects of D. stramonium on different agricultural crops have also been reported (Oudhia and Tripathi 1998a,b; Oudhia and Tripathi 2001a; Oudhia et al. 1996, 1998, 1999).
Soils rich in calcium are considered best for D. stramonium cultivation. Seeds are sown in the spring. Plants are typically spaced 3 meters apart. It can be grown successfully in shade but is very frost sensitive. On average 1-1.5 tonnes leaves and 500-600 kg seeds can be obtained per hectare. The rate of Datura seeds in Indian national market is 10-12 Rs./kg (Chandra and Pandey 1989; Oudhia and Tripathi 2001)
Agharkar, S.P. 1991. Medicinal plants Bombay presidency. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur (India). p. 88-89.
Chandra, V. and M. Pandey. 1989. Jadi-bootion Ki Kheti. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. p. 61-62.
Ghosh, N.C. 1988. Comparative materia medica. Hannemann. Private Ltd., Kolkata, India.
Lindley, J. 1985. Flora medica. Ajay Book Service, New Delhi.
Narwal, S.S. 1994. Allelopathy in crop production, Scientific Publ., Jodhpur, India. p. 135-136.
Oudhia, P., S.S. Kolhe, and R.S. Tripathi. 1996. Allelopathic effect of Datura stramonium L. on linseed. Agr. Biol. Res. 12(1&2):12-17.
Oudhia, P., S.S. Kolhe, and R.S. Tripathi. 1998. Germination and seedling vigour of chickpea as affected by allelopathy of Datura stramonium L. Int. Chickpea and Pigeonpea Newslett. 5:22-24.
Oudhia, P., S.S. Kolhe, and R.S. Tripathi. 1999. Germination and seedling vigour of rice var. Mahamaya as affected by allelopathy of Datura stramonium L. Crop Res. 18(1):46-45.
Society for Parthenium Management, (SOPAM)
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