Officials warn against moonflowers
Article Launched: 10/02/2008 10:50:08 AM MDT
Five adolescents in Jefferson County have been sickened by moonflowers since Sept. 8, and health officials are warning people of the dangers of the flowers.
The five lived within 3.5 miles of each other, the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment said in a news release, and all have recovered. However, two of them were at one time in intensive care.
The flowers have large blooms and a delicate fragrance. The seeds, leaves and roots - when eaten, smoked or brewed into a tea - cause hallucinations and other medical problems.
Moonflowers are part of a family of plants that include jimson weed. The plant, which blooms at night, is typically 3 feet high and is native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. In the fall, it produces thorny pods containing seeds.
Within an hour of ingesting the plant, symptoms begin.
The substance causes agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Heart rate and blood pressure can climb, mouths can become dry, skin turns dry, hot and flushed, and vision is blurred. In severe cases, the plant can cause seizures and comas.
In addition to the five Jeffco teens, four other cases of moonflower toxicity have been reported to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center in the last month, the release said.
"It is important that parents, adolescents and educators are aware of toxic and potentially life threatening health effects from recreational use of the moonflower plant," Jeffco senior epidemiologist Dr. Gayle Miller said in a statement.