Datura ferox , Chinese' thornapple, Large thornapple seeds
Datura ferox seeds
Datura ferox belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. The plant is better known as large thornapple or Chinese thornapple. It is native to China. In Europe the plant is cultivated for ornamental reasons.
D. ferox is an annual plant, which can reach a height of about 1, 5 m. The plant is mostly smooth but can be pubescent, too. The shoot is green. The leaves are ovate and dentate at the leaf edge. They can get 6 to 14 cm long and 6 to 16 cm wide. If the leaves are cut off from the shoot an unpleasant odor fills the air.
The flowers are white and stand solitary in the branch forks. The flowers look like a trumpet. The fruit is an ovate capsule. It gets 2 to 4 cm long and reaches 2 to 3 cm in diameter. But the fruit can as well get bigger. The capsule has various thorns. The thorns at the apex of the capsule are longer than those in the middle (10 to 15 cm). The longest thorn has half the length of the capsule. The seeds are 4 to 5 mm long and are black or grey. When the fruit is ripe it gets a brownish or orange color.
D. ferox resembles D. stramonium, which is known as the common thornapple. One suggests that those two species hybridizes.
D. ferox is highly poisonous in all parts. The thornapple includes alkaloids that are reformed to atropine. Atropine is a strong poison that leads very fast to death. Reports from 300 v. Chr. describe the poisonous and narcotic effect of this plant. The Native Americans used it as narcotic substance during an operation.
The seeds of D. ferox need to lay 24 h in warm water before they are ready for planting. They can be planted by a temperature of about 23°C. D. ferox should be kept moist but not wet. The plant needs a light place. Germination occurs in about 2 to 6 weeks.