Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: Solanaceae:
Datura discolor, desert thornapple, and
D. wrightii, sacred datura

Table 1. Easy ID Comparison Table for Datura in ABDSP

CharacteristicD. discolor
desert thornapple
D. wrightii
sacred datura
LifeformAnnualPerennial (can flower first year)
Seedsblackcinnamon tan
Calyx5-9 cm
~2-3.5" long
5-winged or angled toward base
8-12 cm
~3-4.5" long
ribbed (but not winged) at least toward base
Corolla size10-16 cm
~4-6" long
15-20 cm
~6-7.75" long
Corolla colorwhite with distinctive purple splotches INSIDE the corolla tubecompletely white corolla tube with NO distinctive purple splotches inside the tube (BUT can have a purple wash on outside or inside of the corolla).

Pictures illustrating the differences

D. discolor, desert thornapple. Fruit with black seeds
Coyote Canyon, 11/24/13.

D. wrightii, sacred datura. Fruit with cinnamon tan seeds.
Indian Canyon, 11/21/13.

D. discolor, desert thornapple. Purple splotches inside lower part of corolla.
Coyote Canyon, 11/24/13.

D. wrightii, sacred datura. No purple splotches inside corolla, but sometimes with purple wash.
The Cove, Borrego Palm Canyon mouth, 11/25/13.

D. discolor, desert thornapple. Calyx 5-winged (5 angled) toward base.
Coyote Creek, Second Crossing, 11/7/11.

D. wrightii, sacred datura. Calyx ribbed, but not winged, toward base.
Glorietta Canyon, 11/27/13.

Side by side comparison. D. discolor, desert thornapple (top), with its winged-toward-base calyx; and D. wrightii, sacred datura (bottom), without wings on its calyx. Also note that there can be a significant difference in the length of the calyx.
The Cove, Borrego Palm Canyon mouth, 11/25/13.

All pictures by Kate Harper except for the one showing the D. discolor calyx taken by Tom Chester.

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Updated 4 January 2016