Not to be confused semantically with : Apple-of-Peru (a member of the same family) or Apple Mint nor with
Crab Apple [plants with similar names]
Easily mistaken for :
Longspine Thorn-Apple (
Datura ferox) which is in the same genus but has more robust and longer spines on the fruit. Other size differences are also apparent: smaller calyx 2.5-4cm (3-5cm for Thorn-apple), shorter calyx teeth 3 - 5mm (4-10mm for Thorn-apple, smaller corolla 4-6cm (5-10cm for Thorn-apple), larger fruit capsule 5-8mm including spines (3-7mm for Thorn-apple), longer spines stout 10-30mm long (slender and 2-15mm for Thorn-apple and spineless in var. inermis).
Longspine Thorn-apple also has some spines with a very broad base and longer than 20mm.
Many similarities to :
Angel's Trumpets (a plant belonging to the same Nightshade Family, which also has similar trumpet shaped white flowers and a spiky fruit (but which has wider but fewer thorns)
Some similarities to : the Bindweeds (Convolvulaceae) such as Hedge Bindweed,
Large Bindweed and Field Bindweed in that the flowers have some similarities, but the leaves and stance totally different (bindweeds climb, Thorn-apple doesn't).
Slight resemblance to : Apple-of-Peru (Nicandra physalodes) but that has pale blue-white trumpet-shaped flowers and less to Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) but that has a much shorter trumpet which is pale yellow in colour.
The thorny fruit pod has a superficial resemblance to those of : Sweet Chestnuts
Grows in waste places, as an arable weed, or in gardens, preferring a calcareous soil. Nitrogen fertilisers will increase the proportions of tropane alkaloids produced within the plant. It is native to North America, where it is known as Jimson Weed.
Flowers and leaves of a similar shape to those of Apple-of-Peru, but rather than being light blue and with a white inner, the flowers are greeny-white with a greenish inner. The leaves lack the black glandular trichomes and the black, five-flanged flower buds of present on Apple-of-Peru. It is also in a different Genus (Datura) than that of Apple-of-Peru (Nicandra), although it is in the same Nightshade Family.
It possesses much the same Tropane Alkaloids as does Henbane, such as Hyoscamine, Scopolamine and Atropine but not necessarily in the same proportions, nor indeed in the same concentration. Indeed, the Datura Genus is renown for the highly variable concentrations of these alkaloids, varying in concentration by up to 5:1 depending upon soil conditions, growing site, the climate, the weather and a host of other variable ill-defined factors. See Henbane for a description of the Tropane Alkaloids (present to variable degrees) in Thorn-Apple.
Atropine has been in use medicinally for treating asthma attacks for many years. It causes paralysis of the pulmonary branches of the lungs thus preventing the abnormal contraction of the bronchioles which restricts the amount of air the sufferer can breath during an attack. Those with heart conditions should avoid this medicine based on Datura extracts, which can also precipitate hallucinations which persists for several days. However, the therapeutic range is very small, a slight overdose often results in hospitalizations or even death. Thorn-Apple is highly toxic.