How to get rid of thorn apple

Thorn apple fruit. Getty Images

What is thorn apple?

Thorn-apple (Datura stramonium) is a non-native weed, found in farmland, gardens and waste ground. Named after its fruit, which is large and prickly, it also bears large white or purple, bindweed-like flowers. It’s native to warmer regions of North- and Central America, and is not common in the UK but is more prevalent in hot summers. It often arrives into gardens via contaminated bird seed.

Is thorn apple poisonous?

A member of the solanaceae (nightshade) family, thorn apple is poisonous to people, farm animals and pets. If ingested, the powerful toxins can cause hallucinogens and death.

How to identify thorn apple

White thorn apple flower. Getty Images

Thorn apple grows to a height of around 1m. It has broad and coarsely toothed leaves, white or purple flowers from July to October, and spiny, apple-like fruits. Occasionally the fruits are smooth.

How to get rid of thorn apple

Thorn apple ripe seedhead. Getty Images

Thorn apple seeds remain viable for many years, so seedlings may appear on newly disturbed ground. However, the plants are easy to remove – simply pull them out or hoe the seedlings. If you pull out the plants before they set seed then simply compost them, but if they have set seed you will need to dispose of them by burning or burying them deeper than 60cm in the soil, to prevent the seeds from germinating. Always wear gloves when handling thorn apple, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

 

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