Officials uproot poisonous weed from new river trail
Published 12:05 pm, Wednesday, August 16, 2017
NEW MILFORD — Town officials have removed about 30 jimson weed plants, a poisonous invasive species, from beds lining the new river trail.
Michael Crespan, director of the Health Department, said several town agencies were notified Thursday about the presence of the plants, which were removed Friday afternoon.
“This was somewhat of an urgent matter, because there is some poisonous nature to this plant,” Crespan said. “My understanding is that it was there before the river trail was constructed, that it was along the bank of the river previously.”
Jimsonweed, known as datura, is an annual herb that grows up to 5 feet tall. It has a pale green stem with spreading branches, and spiky green leaves with purplish coloring, according to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website.
All parts of jimsonweed are poisonous. Leaves and seeds are the usual source of poisoning, but are rarely eaten because of their strong odor and unpleasant taste.
Poisoning is more common in humans than in animals. Children can be attracted by flowers and consume jimson weed accidentally. In small quantities, the weed can have medicinal or hallucinogenic properties, but poisoning readily occurs because of misuse.
Jimsonweed has been used in traditional medicine to treat asthma symptoms and as a form of anesthesia.
As part of their religion, the ancient inhabitants of what is today central and southern California ingested the plant’s seeds to communicate with their deities. Other indigenous groups, such as the Algonquin, Cherokee and Navajo, used the plant in ceremonies.