[Name said to be from the Arabic]
Thorn apple, so called in allusion to the capsule, which is as large as a small hen's egg; ovate, and thickly covered with thorns. The poisonous qualities of this plant, as well as its application in medicine, are well known. As a remedy in asthma, it has acquired great reputation. In some parts of the country it is known by the name of Jamestown or Jimson weed. I have heard of a case where a child was poisoned in consequence of eating one seed. Professor Martyn observes, that in the earth brought with plants from any part of America, we are sure to have the Thorn-apple come up. The whole plant has a disagreeable smell. Every part of the plant is poisonous, bringing on delirium tremens, etc. The flowers are funnel shaped, with a long tube, five angled; either light purple or white. I describe it here as a warning to beware of the plant, and not for its beauty, as it is a disgusting weed growing abundantly in rubbish. Some of the genus are beautiful and worthy a place in the flower-garden; but all are poisonous. This species has very large handsome flowers, pure white.
D. quercifolia, is one of the finest. - It has very large white flowers, measuring five inches across the mouth; the nerves of a fine pink, shaded with purple. The fruit contained in a smooth capsule, and the leaf is somewhat like the oak ( Quercus,) whence its name. The manner of growth is very elegant; and as each succeeding blossom burst through its fine calyx, we have thought it more beautiful than its predecessor. "We can truly recommend this as an ornament to the garden.
This is a highly ornamental and showy species, with large white flowers, shaded with pink, full as large as the last.
D. meteloides D. Wrightii of the catalogues. This species is very splendid, producing large funnel-shaped flowers, pure white, delicately shaded with very pale blue. Before the buds expand, they are curiously twisted or folded, and if cut off in the afternoon and placed in water in the house, they will begin to unfold early in the evening, and by nine o'clock be fully opened, filling the room with a delightful fragrance. All the species open during the night, remain during the next day, and then perish. The plants of D. meteloides are two or three feet high, branching, producing a succession of flowers through the season.
There are varieties of double-blue, white, and straw color. These double flowers are curious, but do not have much claim to beauty. The single flower is filled up with other funnel-shaped petals. The double sorts are D. fastuosa alba plena, and purpurea plena. D. humilis flava is a dwarf species, with yellow flowers. All these double varieties are late in flowering. They are all propagated by seeds, being annuals in the open ground, but perennials in the green-house. A plant of D. meteloides, which grew on the grape border and securely protected, survived the winter and flowered profusely the next year.