jimson/gypsum (weed)

Mon Oct 15 21:58:06 UTC 2012

        "Gypsum weed" apparently is just another name for jimson weed, datura stramonium, a member of the nightshade family and dangerous for cattle or humans under either name.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Charles C Doyle
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 5:35 PM
Subject: jimson/gypsum (weed)

Practically my whole life I've known and loved the cowboy song (albeit a faux one) "Back in the Saddle Again."  I even heard Gene Autry himself sing it at the San Antonio Fat Stock Show when I was a youth.

In my pre-college years, I raised a few beef calves myself, and I was always amused at the couplet "Where the longhorn cattle feed / On the lonely jimson weed"--because jimson weed is poisonous (though cattle generally avoid it unless it gets accidently baled into hay).

Well, just recently I acquired a CD with an old recording of Gene Autry performing the song, and my heart was warmed:  Except, for the first time, I noticed that he sings, "Where the longhorn cattle feed / On the lonely gypsum weed."   Yes, "gypsum" is clearly the word; he sings the stanza twice!

Well, no doubt gypsum weed, whatever it is (and however a weed can be lonely), would be safer for the cattle to feed on . . . .


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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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