Feral plant - what is it?

Recently a plant has grown at the foot of a tree in the back garden. It is about 1m high and open branched. It has a small number of tube like flowers and very spikey hard fruit pods. Anyone recognise it?







Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Reply By: hoffy - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:06

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:06
In Qld it is known as Stramonium or Castor Oil Plant. It is a declared noxious weed. Best to get rid of it before the seed pods pop open.
That seed pod is full of small seeds and those spikes can inflict a nasty sing in unwary fingers.
Cheers
Graeme
AnswerID: 478633

Follow Up By: hoffy - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:07

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:07
Oops,
A nasty sting. It might make you sing
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FollowupID: 754177

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:34

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:34
Hi Hoffy,

I would put it down as a Datura, a member of the deadly nightshade family (and related to potatoes and tomatoes.) Like the castor oil plant (whose seeds contain potentially lethal riccin a favourite of cold war secret agents), the seeds can be extremely poisonous even to the point of causing death.

It tends to come into gardens with topsoil. The only thing to do is pull it out asap and either burn it or put it in your garbage bin (not in the compost or green waste bin). Dont wait until it sets seeds and spreads them around or you will have half a yard full of it next year.

If you see this plant or the castor oil plant while you are out travelling keep the kids away from the plants and especially the seed pods.

Cheers,

Val
J and V
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AnswerID: 478635

Follow Up By: hoffy - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:50

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 18:50
Hi Val,
Yes you are correct: Datura it is.
I guess we knew it as Castor Oil plant because of the terrible smell of the broken stem and leaves.
You are also correct about its potential danger. Nasty plant.
Cheers
Graeme
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FollowupID: 754181

Follow Up By: Bill BD - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 00:17

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 00:17
"potentially lethal riccin" - that's an understatement, ricin is one of the most toxic substances to humans. A dose equivalent to 2 grains of salt will be lethal.
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FollowupID: 754217

Reply By: Member - Gordon T (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:14

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:14
Rather than pulled and simply placed in a rubbish bin where the seeds may esacpe, it is preferable to burn the entire plant or place it in a plastic bag, tie ithe bag tight and then place in the bin where it will decay. You may even leave the bag in the sun for a few days before binning it. It is truely a noxious and dangerous plant to humans and stock. It is often found along river banks and thus it comes into domestic garden in river loam supplied as top soil.
Gordon.
AnswerID: 478651

Reply By: lindsay - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:29

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:29
In Victoria we call it a thorne apple. Growns on sandy soils after irrigation or rain often after cultivation. Get rid of it before the seed head opens as it has heaps of small black seeds. It is an annual so if you get fid of thee seed head first, you can pull the plant out by the roots if the soil is wet.
AnswerID: 478653

Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 07:54

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 07:54
Thanks everyone - the interloper will have its end today.

I have heard of the castor oil plant but never seen it. I wonder how it arrived. We have not knowingly brought in any soil or mulch so I guess it is from the birds or the bird seed that we buy - most likely the latter.

cheers
Alastair
AnswerID: 478673

Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 08:07

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 08:07
Having got the leads from you guys I have done some looking up on the web resources. I think Val gets the prize for the Thorn apple - the lesser of the nasties suggested. Whilst the leaves are similar the flowers and the seed pod seem to be the key. Thanks Val.

Thorn apple - Datura

Castor oil plant
AnswerID: 478674

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