Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For those of you watching House last night

Last night's House episode (Lines in the Sand) featured an autistic child with strange medical problems (on House? Never!) Long story short, a part of the episode centered around the child possibly eating something poisonous. Foreman went through the child's yard and picked a small weedy-looking plant, which they later identified as jimsonweed, a psychoactive (translate: poisonous) plant.

I've worked with caterpillars that feed on jimsonweed (Datura wrightii) in the western US, and thus knew immediately that the plant they showed was not Datura wrightii. Datura wrightii's leaves are a distinctive gray-green and have smooth or undulate margins (edges), whereas the plant they picked was light green and had what appeared to be lobate or dentate (i.e., pointy) margins. Thus, I was about to write a snarky post saying "HAH! They got it wrong!" wherein I'd proudly show pictures of Datura wrightii (like the one below) and brag about my immense knowledge.

Datura wrightii
Datura wrightii, jimsonweed. Picture by poeticdarklove, shared under a creative-commons license.

Unfortunately, however, it turns out that those weird people on the east coast call another plant (Datura stramonium) jimsonweed:

Datura stramonium
Datura stramonium, jimsonweed. Photo by urtica, shared under a creative commons license.

And, of course, Datura stramonium's leaves are more of a standard green color, and don't have smooth or undulate margins. In fact, Datura stramonium looks much like the plant Foreman picked.

Oh well, another post down the drain.

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