Datura metel is a shrub-like annual (zone 5-7) or perennial (zone 8-10) herb, commonly known as devil's trumpet and metel. Datura metel grows in the wild in all the warmer parts of the world, such as India and is cultivated worldwide for its chemical and ornamental properties. This plant was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, but no botanically correct illustrations or descriptions were made until after the New World was settled. The original home of the plant remains uncertain as a result.
The plant is an annual or perennial herb growing up to 3 ft (0.91 m) high. It is slightly furry, with dark violet shoots and oval to broad oval leaves that are often dark violet as well. The pleasantly-scented 6–8 in (15–20 cm) flowers are immensely varied, and can be single or double. Colors range from white to cream, yellow, red, and violet. The seed capsule is covered with numerous conical humps and a few spines. It is similar to D. innoxia, but D. metel has almost glabrous leaves and fruits that are knobby, not spiny. D. innoxia is pilose all over and has a spiny fruit.
All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of highly poisonous tropane alkaloids and may be fatal if ingested by humans or other animals, including livestock and pets. In some places, it is prohibited to buy, sell, or cultivate Datura plants.
Datura metel may be toxic if ingested in a tiny quantity, symptomatically expressed as flushed skin, headaches, hallucinations, and possibly convulsions or even a coma. The principal toxic elements are tropane alkaloids. Ingesting even a single leaf can lead to severe side effects.
Datura metel is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called yáng jīn huā (洋金花). However, the ingestion of D. metel in any form is dangerous and should be treated with extreme caution. According to Drug & Cosmetic Act 1940 & Rule 1995, Datura metel is banned in India for use in Ayurvedic medicine.
A cultivar of D. metel with a polished-looking ebony-black stem exists as a garden plant. Its flowers normally have a double or triple corolla, each corolla having a deep purple exterior and white or off-white interior. The plant is already reported to have become naturalised in Israel (see illustration). The black cultivar might become a common roadside dweller, like its white-flowered ancestor.
It is known under several cultivar names such as 'Black', 'Blackcurrant Swirl', 'Cornucopaea', 'Double Blackcurrant Swirl', 'Double Purple', and 'Purple Hindu'. It has also received many scientific names which should not be used for a cultivar:
The plant has the following characteristics: