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dhattura - Datura metal Linn., Datura stramonium, Datura alba Nees

dhattura :

dhattura  : Datura metal Linn., Datura stramonium, Datura alba Nees Downy datura or thorn apple is an erect branched under shrub whose intoxicating and narcotic properties have been made use of by man from ancient time. The plant and fruit are spasmolytic, anticancerous and anthelmintic. Leaves and seeds are inhaled in whooping cough, asthma and other respiratory diseases. Root, leaf and seed are febrifuge, antidiarrhoeal, anticatarrhal and are used in insanity, cerebral complications and skin diseases. Leaf is antitumour, antirheumatic and vermicide. 

Flower is antiasthamatic, anaesthetic and is employed in swellings and eruptions on face. Fruit juice is used in earache and seed decoction in ophthalmia. For the rheumatic swellings of joints, lumbago, sciatica and neuralgia, warm leaf smeared with an oil is used as a bandage or sometimes the leaf is made into a poultice and applied. The root boiled with milk is used in insanity. It is also an ingredient in the ayurvedic preparation Kanakasva used in bronchial troubles, and the Unani formulations “Roghan dhatura” used as a massage oil for the paralysed part. The alkaloids of pharmaceutical interest present in the plant are hyoscyamine, hyoscine and meteloidine. 

Datura is the chief commercial source of hyoscine available from natural source. Hyoscine, in the form of hyoscine hydrobromide, is used as a pre-anaesthetic in surgery, child birth, ophthalmology and prevention of motion sickness. It is also employed in the relief of withdrawal symptoms in morphine and alcoholic addiction, paralysis agitans, postencephaletic parkinsonianism and to allay sexual excitement. Hyoscyamine and its salt hyoscyamine sulphate and hyoscyamine hydrobromide are used in delerium, tremour, menia and parkinsonianism (Kaul and Singh, (1995).

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Family: Solanaceae


English: thorn apple
Hindi: Kaladhatura
Telugu: Tellavummetta
Bengali: Dhatura
Tamil: Vellummattai
Malayalam: Ummam
Kannada: Dattura


Synonyms in Ayurveda: dhattura, dhurta, unmatta, kamaka, kharjughna, khala, kantaphala, matta, madakar, matula, mathamohi, matula, shivapriya, dhatturaka, kanaka


Datura grows well in a wide range of climate from tropical to temperate conditions. The plant thrives best in areas of low rainfall where winter and monsoon rains are followed by long dry periods. Areas with annual rainfall below 1000mm with mean temperature of 10- 15oC in winter and 27 - 28oC in May-June are ideal. The crop cannot stand frost, high rainfall or high temperature in the plains in May-June. It grows on majority of soils, however, alkaline or neutral clay loam soil or those tending to saline-alkaline reaction rich in organic matter are ideal for vigorous growth. The clayey, acidic, water-logged or moisture deficient soils do not suit this crop.


The plant is propagated by seeds but it is characterised by poor and often erratic seed germination which can be improved either by leaching out the inhibitor from the seeds or by alternate freezing and thawing of seeds. The optimum season for raising the crop is Rabi in tropical and subtropical areas while Kharif in temperate areas. The seeds can be broadcast - sown or seedlings can be raised in nursery and then transplanted. Seed rate is 7-8 kg/ha for broadcasting and 2-3 kg/ha. for transplanting. The field is ploughed and disced adequately to produce fine seed bed. In the case of direct seeding, seeds are drilled in rows taken 45-60 cm apart. The plants are thinned to keep a spacing of 30-45 cm at the time of first weeding. In the case of transplanting 4-6 weeks old seedlings are planted at 45-60 x 30-45 cm spacing. The field should be irrigated immediately after sowing or planting if soil moisture is inadequate. Thereafter 3-4 irrigations may be given if sufficient rainfall is not received. Application of organic manure at 10-15 t/ha and fertilisers at 60:40:40 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha is recommended for the crop for better growth and yield N may be applied in 3-4 equal split doses at planting and after each weeding which is required 2-3 times during the growing season. Application of micronutrients is reported to improve the alkaloid contents. 

No major insect pest is known to attack this crop. However, leaf spot, wilt and mosaic diseases cause damage to this crop. Leaf spot is caused by Alternaria tennuissima (Nees) Wiltshire and characterised by brown round to oval spots, becoming necrotic at later stage which leads to withering and dropping of leaves. Wilt is caused by Sclerotium rolfsii Sace; it starts with dropping of leaves and finally wilting of the entire plant. Root and foot wilt, caused by Corticium solani, appears as damping off of seedlings and mature plants. Datura distortion mosaic is characterised by yellowing of the veins followed by inward rolling and distortion of leaves with a reduction in plant size. For reducing the impact of these diseases, field sanitation, use of resistant varieties, crop rotation for 3-4 years and fungicide application should be resorted to. For the purpose of leaf and top, harvesting is done as soon as flowering starts. Entire top containing leaves and twigs is cut, dried in shade and stored in gunny bags. For seed and fruit, fully grown fruits, still green are picked 2-3 times before final harvest when the entire plant is cut from the base and dried in the open. The dried fruits are then thrashed with a stick to separate the seeds. The seed yield is 1-1.5 t/ha. (Husain, 1993; Kaul and Singh, 1995) 


The alkaloids hyoscyamine and hyoscine (scopolamine) and meteloidine are found in all parts of the plant. The total alkaloid content is 0.26 - 0.42 % Fruits contain daturaolone and daturadiol while roots contain additionally ditigloyloxy tropane derivatives, tigloidine, apohyoscine, norhyoscine, norhyocyamine, cusiohygrine and tropine. Other alkaloids isolated from the plant are apohyoscyamine, DL-scopolamine, normeteloidine, tigloylputrescine, scopine, nortigloidine, tropine, psuedo valeroidine, fastudine, fastunine, fastusinine, 7-hydroxy-3, 6-ditigloyloxytropane (2) datura nolone and fastusic acid. 


The physiological effects of hyoscyamine are qualitatively the same as those of its recemic derivative atropine. This is relatively more active in its paralysing affect on nerve endings and less active in its stimulant action on the central nervous system. The sedative and hypnotic action of hyoscyamine is weaker than that of hyoscine. Atropine has a stimulant action on the central nervous system and depresses the nerve endings to the secretary glands and plain muscles. The plant or the different alkaloids have narcotic, anthelmintic, spasmolytic anaesthetic, sedative, ophthalmic, anticancerous, antitumour, antirheumatic, antiasthmatic, antidiarrhoeal and anticatarrhal activities. (Thakur et al, 1989).


The genus Datura, belonging to the family solanaceae, consists of annual and perennial herbs, shrubs and trees. Three species,viz, Datura metel Linn., D. stramonium Linn. and D. innoxia Mill. are medicinally important. D. innoxia mill. and D. metel Linn. (var. alba, and var, fastuosa) are the choice drug plants, rich in hyoscine. D. metel Linn. is the most common in India. The names, D. metel Linn., D. fastuosa Linn., D. alba Nees., D. fastuosa Linn. var. alba (Nees) C.B. Clarke and D. metel Linn. var. fastuosa (Linn.) Safford are synonymously used by many workers. Two varieties are often noted in D. metel Linn., namely the white flowered var. alba and purple flowered var. fastuosa. D. metel Linn. is an erect succulent branched undershrub divaricate often purplish branches and ovate pubescent leaves which are oblique at the base of lamina. Flowers are large, solitary, short pedicelled, purplish outside and white inside. Fruits are sub-globose capsules covered all over with numerous, fleshy prickles, irregularly breaking when mature. Seeds are numerous, smooth, yellowish brown. (warrier et al, 1994).

Geographical distribution:

Datura is distributed throughout the world, particularly the warmer regions. Datura stramonium is indigenous to India. Out of 15 species reported from different parts of the world, only 10 are known to occur in India. They are found commonly in wastelands, gardens and roadsides. They are distributed in rich localities under semi-arid and arid regions of Punjab, Haryana, Rajastan, and Gujarat; the Central Plateau of Andhra Pradesh and Maharastra and the southern peninsular region of Tamil Nadu. Datura innoxia is indigenous to Mexico and is distributed in Latin American countries. A wealth of genetic stock on genotypes and varieties are maintained in several research institutes in Germany, Bulgaria, USSR and Poland.


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