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Datura metel


Botanical Name

Datura metel Linn. [7]


Datura alba Nees  
Datura fastuosa Linn
Datura fastuosa Linn var. alba C.B. Clarke [9]



Vernacular Names


Malay Kecubong, Terung Pungak
English Prickly burr, Thorn apple, Downy datura
Indonesia Toru mabo (Nias); Kecubong, Kecubu (Melayu); Kacubueng (Minangkabau); Kucubung (Sunda); Kacubung (Jawa); Kacobhung, cobhung (Madura); Kecubung, Kucubu (Manado); Bulutuhe (Gorontalo); Kacubong (Makasar); Tampong-tampong (Bugis); Kecubung, Kecubung cenik (Bali); Bembe (Bima); Ndondoak (Roti); Babotek (Timor); Toruapale (seram); Kucubu (Halmahera); Kucubu, Padura (Ternate)
India Dhustura (Sanskrit); Kala-dhatura, Krishmadhastura, Siahdhatura
Nepal Kalo dhatura, Hakugu dudhale [1], [2], [8], [9]





Datura metel Linn. is a member of the Solanaceae family. It is an annual branching shrub that can grow up to 2 m high. The whole plant is distinctly purple and is pubescent. The leaves are large, alternate, broadly ovate with rounded base and measure 15-30 cm long. The leaf blade is thing with margins entire and both surfaces pubescent. The flowers are large and borne singly in the leaf axils. They are funnel shape and consist of 5 petals which measures 15-25 cm long are fused at the entirety except at the top where it is spreading. The fruit is rounded, measuring 2-5 cm in diameter, and covered with long prickles. The fruits dry and turn brow at maturity. The are dehiscent releasing small kidney shaped dark brown seeds. [1]


Throughout the Tropical and subtropical belt. But now since being promoted as an ornamental plant, it can be found even in temperate areas. [1], [3]

Plant Use

The plant contains many useful phytochemicals which renders it of benefit for use in treatment of many kinds of diseases. Notably the leaves are frequently used as a remedy for asthma and protractile cough. [2]

Toxic Parts

Whole plant but especially the fruit and seeds.

[1], [3], [6]


Datura metel contains tropane alkaloids (belladonna alkaloids) like atropine and hyoscine which are its poisonous elements. The most commonly found alkaloids include atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine. These have anticholinergic effects. [2], [3], [6], [7]

Risk Management

The Datura are commonly grown as garden ornamentals for their fragrant white trumpet-shaped flowers. The leaves possess a strong odour which is a deterrent to it being eaten.  It had never been planted as ornamentals however, in certain parts of the world it can be found growing in the wild. This plant should never be considered to be used in home landscaping. The seeds when dispersed can cause poisoning to children and animals. [7]

Clinical Findings

Central Nervous system symptoms include delirium with loss of sensibility and convulsions. There as essentially three stages of symptoms observed in Datura poisoning i.e. primary delirium, sopor or even coma and secondary delirium. In the primary delirium stage the victim may manifest extreme timidity or may be vociferous. The soporous stage sees the victim exhibiting loss of sensibility performing activities that would invoke laughter amongst those seeing him. Delirium can last up to ten hours in certain cases. The victim upon recovery does not usually remember the incident.

Ophthalmic symptoms and signs include dilated pupils for several days. This results in blurred vision. There are also dry mouth with dysphagia and dysphonia, tachycardia and urinary retention. The skin may be flushed and dry accompanied by hyperthermia.

In severe poisoning the victims feel cold, agitated and combative, develop urinary retention. They may develop convulsions, paralysis, coma, respiratory failure with subsequent circulatory collapse and death.

Symptoms can be summarized as follows: “Hot as a hare, blind as a bat, dry as a bone, red as a beet and mad has a hatter”. [3], [4], [6]


Management of Anticholinergic Alkaloid Poisoning

Management would include intravenous rehydration with electrolyte correction and anti-emetics if vomiting is present. In severe cases of intoxication one can use the available antidote, physostigmine. [1]

  1. Advance life support with continous cardiac monitorin and intravenous access should be established as necessary.
  2. Activated charcoal should be considered but should not be repeated as there is the possibility of paralytic ileus developing subsequent to intoxication which can cause impaction or aspiration.
  3. Patients with mild psychomotor hyperactivity should be observed and provided with nonspecific sedation like benzodiazepines when necessary.
  4. Physostigmine is a specific antidote for anticholinergic intoxication. It is given in a dose of 1 – 2 mg as slow IV infusion over 2 – 5 minutes for adults. In children the does is 0.02 mg/kg, up to 0.5 mg. Doses can be repeated after 10 – 20 minutes if the anticholinergic effects persist or recur. Response is usually quick and remarkable, but recurrent toxicity is relatively common. The risk of cholinergic excess in overzealous treatment would be noticed should the patient developed bradycardia, bronchorrhea dan bronchospasm and seizures. This can be reversed by atropine. [3], [5]

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  1) Botanical Info

  2) Safety


  1. Oakes AJ., Butcher JO., Poisonous and Injurious Plants of the U.S. Virgin Islands Agricultural Research Service Washington D.C. 1962 pg. 40 – 41
  2. Dalimartha S. Atlas Tumbuhan Obat Indonesia Volume 2 Niaga Swadaya Jakarta 2006 pg. 106
  3. Nelson L., Shih RD., Balick MJ., Handboook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants Springer Berlin 2007 pg. 145 - 148
  4. Allen TF., The Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica Volume IV  B. Jain Publishers New Delhi 2005 pg, 69
  5. Brandenberger H., Maaes RAA.,  Analytical Toxicology: For Clinical, Forensic and Pharmaceutical Chemists Walter de Gruyter & Co. Berlin 1997 pg. 639
  6. Scott S., Thomas C., Poisonous Plants of Paradise: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries University of Hawaii Press Honolulu 2000 pg. 4 – 8
  7. Knight AR., A Guide to Poisonous House and Garden Plants Colorado State University pg. 172 – 174
  8. Joshi KK., Johsi DJ., Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Used in Nepal, Tibet and Trans-Himalayan Region, AuthorHouse, Bloomington 2006, pg. 56 – 57
  9. Chauhan NS., Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Himachal Pradesh, Indus Publishing, New Delhi 1999, pg. 183

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