Image above: datura seed pod.
What is datura?
There are several introduced species of datura in Tasmania. They are similar in appearance and weediness and are dealt with together in this control guide.
Daturas are highly poisonous to humans and stock, and can be a significant crop weed.
- Daturas are declared weeds in Tasmania. The importation, sale and distribution of datura are prohibited in Tasmania.
How to identify datura
- Daturas are bushy annual herbs growing to 1.5 m high but more commonly from 30 to 60 cm. Daturas have distinctive erect, trumpet-shaped flowers with pointed lobes which grow singly from a fork of the stem. Flowers may be white, pink or purple, and the fruit is also distinctive, being a globular capsule covered in spines (giving the plant its common name, thornapple). The capsule contains numerous seed. When mature it splits into 4 segments spilling the seed. The leaves are large (up to 20-35 cm long) with bluntly toothed margins, and have an unpleasant odour when crushed.
- Daturas germinate in the warmer months when there is sufficient moisture. Germination is often spread over several months, giving rise to plants of various ages. Early growth is very rapid, and flowers can be produced by plants as young as 2 to 5 weeks old. Daturas die off in the cooler autumn weather, although dead plants bearing seeds can remain standing through winter and into spring.
- For help in identifying datura, search the
Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora Database for datura illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.
Image: datura seed pod
Datura in Tasmania
- The distribution of datura in Tasmania is limited. Datura occurs as an occasional weed of roadsides and neglected areas on the north-west coast and in the north-east. Daturas are also occasionally found in older or abandoned gardens.
- All parts of the datura plant, and particularly the seeds, are highly toxic and can cause severe or fatal poisoning in humans and stock. However, the bitter taste of datura usually deter stock from browsing on the plant. Daturas are significant weeds of a variety of summer crops on mainland Australia, but are not important agricultural weeds in Tasmania at the present time.
What is the legal status of datura in your area?
Detailed management and control guidelines for datura can be found in the Datura Control Guide. Refer also to
Herbicides for Datura Control. For further information see Weed Links and Resources.
Datura Control Guide
- Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
- Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
- Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
- Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see
Herbicides for Datura Control for more information);
- Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
- Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken;
- Use a combination of different control methods; and
- Establish vigorous pasture (or native species) after removal to reduce re-infestation.
- Don't allow datura to flower and set seed before treatment;
- Don't introduce datura to datura-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
- Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
- Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential;
- Don't rely on just one control method;
- Don't dump datura plants or soil removed from the infestation site, as this can spread the plant to new areas.
Spread of datura
- Daturas spread by seed. Most spread is via contaminated agricultural seed and soil. Datura seed can also be spread on water, and some spread may also occur on machinery, vehicles and mud.
- Up to 30,000 seeds may be produced by a single plant. Datura seed can remain dormant in the soil for several decades.
- See the
Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading datura.
- Single plants and small infestations can be removed by hand pulling or hoeing. Wearing of gloves is recommended.
- Remove plants before fruit has formed to prevent seeding.
- If fruit has formed the removed plant must be securely bagged for disposal.
- Material can be deep buried at a municipal waste facility. However, material must be securely bagged and you will need a permit from DPIPWE prior to transporting it.
- Larger infestations of datura can be controlled by cultivation.
- Cultivation works best when the datura is in the seedling stage. Mature datura plants are more difficult to control as the root system may not be severed, in which case plants can survive.
- Repeated cultivation is required as seedlings continue to emerge over a long period.
- Cultivation should not be used where mature fruit are present. This risks the return of large amounts of viable seed to the soil.
- Avoid returning trash (which may contain datura seed) to the field after harvesting of crops.
Herbicides for Datura Control