MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: how to make insecticide from Datura plant

Date: Thu Nov 23 20:31:49 2000
Posted By: Mark Madachik, PD, Heartland Farm/Nursery
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 972660251.En

Datura is a member of the Potato (Solanaceae) Family, also called the 
Deadly Nightshade Family. There are several species of the Datura genus, 
including D. wrightii, commonly referred to as the Southwestern Thorn 
Apple. D. stramonium is usually called Jimson Weed; D. metaloides is 
colloquially named Sacred Datura; and D. inoxia is usually referred to as 
Toloache. The smaller annual, D. discolor, is often called Moon Flower. It 
grows only 18 inches high and has a purple throat not found in other 
species. All species of Datura have long been used by native peoples of 
the Southwest in puberty and other ceremonies because of the plant's 
halucinogenic alkaloids. People trying to imitate Native American ways 
have often poisoned themselves, sometimes fatally
Poisoning is caused by tropane alkaloids of which the total content of the 
plant can be as high as 0.7%.  They are atropine, hysocyamine, and 
These are called anticholinergic drugs…and you may want to research the 
effects of these drugs before you decide to become a chemist.  The active 
principles are fairly water soluble so a macerated solution of the plant 
would be the easiest.  You should consider though that these drugs are 
highly toxic to mammals (that’s the 4 and 2 legged kind) and I have 
personally found that insecticidal soap works quite well with minimal risk 
to us and our ancestors.  The secret to pest control is frequent 
surveillance to get the little suckers when they are few so control is 
easier.  I run a 26 acre nursery and use less than a  quart of toxic 
pesticides in a year and most of that is for Japanese beetle control and 
even those are handpicked as much as possible and fed to the fish.   A 
final note to exercise extreme care when handling any toxic substance and 
all pesticides should remain outside the home.    Mark

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