Weed that can be deadly if eaten shows up on lawn of Newton school

WBZ reports on the emergence of the dreaded jimson weed, but fails to inform us if weed eating is a problem among the children of Newton.



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Attractive nuisance

The flowers are gorgeous, and the pods are very attractive. The seeds stick around all winter and are very toxic.

Definitely a hazard to even teens who might read "legendary" stuff about the effects of the seeds on the internet.

Oh please, can we just not add to the manufactured anxiety?

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Yes, Jimson/lokoweed is nasty. But there are about a gazillion other members of the nightshade family and they're all toxic, to various extents - stem, leafs, roots, blah blah blah.

And plenty of other plants are common and potentially dangerous. Poison ivy is the obvious example - and it *loves* to colonize. Also pretty and bad-news and everywhere - morning glories. Heck, even daylilies fall into the 'pretty, spreading, and potentially poisonous' category.

If a small lokoweed outbreak in a schoolyard is freaking people out, just spend a half hour a few times in single growing season tearing up all the plants and seedlings (wear gloves!) and - poof! - mischief managed. This is what I've helped do at my daughters schoolyard wrt poison ivy, belladonna, porcelain berry, etc etc.

Can we please not pretend that dangerous things are safe?

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I am a PhD environmental epidemiologist. I work in a toxicology program. Wikipedia is nice, but ...

I understand risk quite well, thankyouverymuch.

This stuff can be very dangerous to children. It should not be on school grounds. Period.

Plagiarism at his best

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He's using his cue cards from Trump obviously taking lessons from him.

By the way the plants look like little monsters they actually look scary and not beautiful.


People in the '60s used to eat Morning Glory seeds, because they contain something like LSD. Those people lived, but the seeds make you puke. Then the seed companies started coating the seeds with an even stronger regurgitant, because God forbid anyone have fun with anything but booze.

A few corrections

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  • Many things in the nightshade family are not toxic. Among them, tomatoes and peppers. Sure, many of the edible nightshades, such as potatoes, have some toxic parts as well.
  • Daylilies are not toxic, and in fact are edible. You're thinking of lilies.
  • I don't know this for sure, but I'm reasonably confident that morning glory seeds will just make you throw up and/or hallucinate.

"Symptoms can include pupils

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"Symptoms can include pupils dilating, blurred vision and hallucinations"

I'd say weed eating is certainly about to be a problem.

Not just eating

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Skin exposure can cause symptoms which "can include pupils dilating, blurred vision and hallucinations. If ingested, the plant can cause serious illness or death."

And this is at an elementary school on the front lawn, where little kids are likely to have plenty of skin exposure.

Poisoning via touch

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I was surprised to see the article making jimson weed out to be a contact hazard -- I've played with the seed heads and picked the flowers, or pulled up plants with my hands, and never had problems. Never heard of it being a problem either. But this article caused me to search around, and I found an interesting article:

"Accidental mydriasis from exposure to Angel's trumpet (Datura suaveolens)" (DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0420.2002.800319.x)

This is a list of cases where someone got Datura sap in their eye by accident (or suspects they did), and as a result had a dilated pupil for a few days. Pretty interesting.

On the whole, though, it's pretty much just an ingestion risk.

To be fair, in my misbegotten yout', we would try anything if

some urban legend suggested would result in a slightly altered state that would take us away for a few minutes from our Nowheresville teenage angst and ennui. Coca-Cola and aspirin, chugging nutmeg mixed with water, swallowing ten NoDoz (only makes you jittery and puts dark circles under your eyes, or so I've read), that bottle of Richard's Wild Irish Rose or Tango (rotgut vodka flavored with something resembling Tang) from the one sad packie across the river that would serve minors, sniffing paint thinner off rags in shop class, drinking bong water, baking pot seeds into a Jiffy Cake.

I grew up in a shitty working-class suburb of a bankrupt mill town. We could get beer and wine and booze with some finagling, had access to the weak weed of the day. Little pills that were probably PCP but sold as "mescaline" weren't hard to come by. There was something called "Thai stick", weed allegedly spiked with opium, that was probably just soaked in embalming fluid. Hash was still a thing: anyone remember hash? I remember seeing hash oil once, which I understand has made a comeback in a modernized form as dab.

So I was shocked as an impoverished freshman at a fancy private college to meet classmates from prosperous backgrounds who were conversant in a battery of legal mind-altering pharmaceuticals they routinely stole from their parents. (They liked and could afford coke, too.) I'd never heard of most of those drugs, still have never tried most of them. Like a lot of current kids from Newton, I suspect, Mad Dog 20/20 and smoking chillum scrapings didn't feature on their party menu.

Given how the Internet has exponentially increased the number of bad ideas that children can read about and try, I guess a little caution is not untoward. Moral-panic sensationalism is one thing -- I don't really believe that eyeballing vodka or ingesting it via a soaked tampon in your rectum were the threat that certain cheesy TV shows made them out to be -- but FourLoko, which combined the high ABV of malt liquor with the depressant-masking effects of potent energy drinks and the flavors of candy, was clearly aimed at youthful drinkers and was lethally dangerous.

Kids today are still gonna get high with whatever is at hand: smoke banana peels and play choke-out games and huff the last remaining bottles around of Wite-Out. I'm okay with shouting that something that's lying about on the ground could be poisonous. Maybe it will push the smarter kids to nutmeg.

It's in front of an elementary school

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I don't think the 3rd graders are going to be ending up in emergency rooms with Datura poisoning from smoking this. (To be clear: Yes, it is quite dangerous to try using it as a drug.)

By the way, nutmeg did put a friend of mine in the hospital. It's not the safest thing either!

I forget which prison memoir I read ages ago, but I

learned that at one point nutmeg used to be a coveted commodity in stir, along with pruno. My imagining of prison food and drink, more than any other factor, is what keeps me on the straight and narrow.

Justice? Morality? Empathy? All influencers, to be sure. But the prospect of being separated from Chuck Draghi's risotto at Erbaluce, or the #9 at Gene's Chinese Flatbread, or the vermicelli clams at Peach Farm, or the beef-cheek tacos especiales at El Amigo, or the Jet Pilot at Drink, for a period of years? That always quashes any extra-legal impulses in my heart

If there's a hell awaiting me, it serves Nutraloaf at every meal, and the TV is always tuned to the Phantom Gourmet, which I am forced to admit to my everlasting chagrin that, in the circumstances, looks pretty good.