If you happened to come across a plant with trumpet-shaped flowers inside a concrete median strip along a bike lane on the Upper West Side you may have thought nothing of the unassuming plant. But, be warned -- for the plant could kill you!
According to West Side Rag, in the area of Columbus Avenue and 93rd Street, across from Trader Joe’s, a highly toxic bush of Datura Stamonium – also known as Jimson weed -- was blooming. The plant is deadly when eaten -- even in small quantities.
On Saturday, Adrian Benepe, who served as New York City Parks commissioner for 11 years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg prior to joining The Trust for Public Land, tweeted: “What a long, strange trip: Bumper crop of Datura stramonium, aka Jimsonweed, growing in planting bed on Columbus Ave. Greenway at 93rd St. in NYC. A well-known hallucinogenic plant, it is also fatally toxic when consumed in even tiny amounts.”
Benepe said the planting bed in question is under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Transportation, according to the West Side Rag.
In a statement to News 4, the DOT said: "The City removed the plant today. DOT did not plant here and does not handle plantings at these pedestrian refuge islands. We are checking records for any local entity that has offered to maintain the area in the past."
News 4 also reached out to the city's Department of Parks & Recreation for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Benepe says it is low risk to touch the weed -- though he recommends leaving removal to the professionals. That is exactly what happened.
By Monday early afternoon, the Parks Department uprooted the Jimson weed and carted it off.
According to a Brooklyn Botanic Garden blog article, "all parts of the plant are toxic, most particularly the seeds. Potent amounts of alkaloid compounds are present, which potentially cause convulsions, hallucinations, and even death if ingested. And as climate change increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, studies have found that the toxicity of plants like jimson weed only increases."