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DATURA inoxia

Image of Datura inoxia

Jessie Keith



Botanical Name

DATURA inoxia

Plant Common Name

Downy Thornapple, Pricklyburr

General Description

Downy thornapple is a large, bushy, herbaceous perennial (or annual) that looks best in early morning when its flowers stand open to the dawn sky. It has naturalized in dry washes, rocky hillsides and waste places from sea level to middle elevations in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as well as regions in the northeast, though it is native to Central and South America.

This heat-lover relies on a deep tap root to reach moisture trapped beneath dry soil. Its downy, oval, dark green or grayish green leaves have a fetid scent. Throughout summer, large, fragrant, white to pale violet, trumpet-like flowers open in the evening and do not close until noon the following day. On cloudy days they will stay open for longer. The highly fragrant blooms are pollinated by nocturnal moths, such as hawk moths. These are followed by large, spiny seed pods called thorn-apples.

Like most southwestern natives, downy thornapple is sun-loving and thrives in dry poor soils. It is relatively cold-hardy but can be grown as an annual outside its hardiness range. It self-sows, sometimes aggressively, so it's a good idea to remove the plants before their spiny capsules break open and release their seeds. This coarse, rather gawky perennial works well in naturalistic plantings and other informal settings.

Downy thornapple is toxic to most herbivores. To learn more about the health hazards associated with this plant see:

This plant may also be sold be the old name, Datura metel.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    White, Lavender

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing