Thornapple: pest

Page last updated: Monday, 6 July 2020 - 10:06am

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Thornapples, common thornapple (Datura stramonium), fierce thornapple (Datura ferox), Leichhardt’s or Mexican thornapple (Datura leichhardtii), hairy thornapple (Datura wrightii), downy thornapple (Datura inoxia) and hoary thornapple (Datura metel) are widespread weeds in Western Australia (WA). This article describes the nature of thornapples with links to control methods.

Form: annual and perennial herbs and shrubs

Status: present in WA


The thornapples (Datura spp.) are vigorous summer-growing plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae, which includes crops such as tobacco, potatoes and tomatoes. Most species of thornapple originated in the tropics and were introduced to Australia as seed or fodder contaminants. The species occur in scattered populations and have been found in most parts of the state.

Thornapple plants contain several poisonous alkaloids. However, they are seldom grazed by stock because of their bitter taste, unpleasant smell and spiny seed pods. Animal deaths are usually due to eating contaminated hay, chaff and silage. The seeds are the most toxic part of the plant. Some children have been poisoned by eating the seeds. Thornapple also competes strongly with pasture plants for light and moisture. They grow, flower and seed over summer, given sufficient soil moisture.


D. strammonium

D. inoxa

D. ferox

D. wrightii

D. metel





Annual - Perennial

Dense hairs on stem







Almost hairless


1.5 metres

one metre

1.5 metres

0.3-1.5 metres

0.5-2 metres


8-36 centimetres

Deeply lobed

10 centimetres

Entire or shallow lobed

8-14 centimetres

6-16 centimetres wide

Shallow toothed

7-25 centimetres



16 centimetres long

15 centimetres wide

Egg shaped serrated


three to five centimetres

5-11 centimetres

three to five centimetres




10 centimetres

white to lavender

12-19 centimetres

white with green veins

four to six centimetres


15-20 ccentimetres

Tinted purple

14-20 centimetres

deep purple outer, pale lavender to pink inner


Within petals

10-14 centimetres

8-12 centimetres

Within petals


Stigma below anthers

Stigma above anthers

Stigma below anthers

Stigma above anthers

Stigma two to four centimetres below anthers


2.5-4 centimetres

Egg shaped carried erect

three to five centimetres

bent sharply down, spines one centimetre

two to four centimetres

40-60 spines

Spines longer at end of capsule

five centimetres

Round and drooping

three to four centimetres



2.5 centimetres long


2.5-4 millimetres

Grey black pitted

four to five millimetres Brown

four to five millimetres

Black grey

five to six millimetres


four to five millimetres


Agricultural and economic impact

Thornapple - a host to pests and diseases. Toxic to livestock.

Longspine thornapple, Fierce thornapple - a host to pests and diseases. Toxic to livestock.

Hoary thornapple, Hindu thornapple - a host to pests and diseases. Toxic to livestock.

Hairy thornapple - a host to pests and diseases. Toxic to livestock.

Downy thornapple - cropping weed, seed is difficult to separate from sorghum at harvest, also a host to pests and diseases. Toxic to livestock.

Legal status

The Western Australian Organism List (WAOL) contains information on thelegal status of these pests in Western Australia (WA). Search for datura species in the WAOL using their scientific names: Datura stramonium, Datura ferox, Datura leichhardtii, Datura wrightii, Datura inoxia or Datura metel.

Search > detect > report

MyPestGuide™ Reporter
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Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080

Control method

When using any agricultural chemicals please ensure that you always follow instructions on the label and any permit. Users of agricultural chemical products must always strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit.

Only registered products can be used for weed and pest control.

Control methods for this plant can be found through the APVMA website, use "thornapple" as the pest name.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080
Technical support - MyPestGuide®