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Nicotiana tabacum - L.

Common Name Tobacco, Cultivated tobacco
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[4, 19, 65, 76]. They contain a volatile oil called nicotine, this is a virulent poison that produces nausea, vomiting, sweating, palpitations and nausea[232].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range S. America. Naturalized in C. and S. Europe.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Nicotiana tabacum Tobacco, Cultivated tobacco
Nicotiana tabacum Tobacco, Cultivated tobacco


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Nicotiana tabacum is a ANNUAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil
Edible Uses: Egg  Oil

A protein can be extracted from the leaves. It is an odourless, tasteless white powder and can be added to cereal grains, vegetables, soft drinks and other foods[183]. It can be whipped like egg whites, liquefied or gelled and can take on the flavour and texture of a variety of foods[183]. It is 99.5% protein, contains no salt, fat or cholesterol[183]. It is currently (1991) being tested as a low calorie substitute for mayonnaise and whipped cream[183].


Medicinal Uses

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Antispasmodic  Diuretic  Emetic  Expectorant  Homeopathy  Irritant  Narcotic  Sedative  

Tobacco has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant, though since it is a highly additive drug it is seldom employed internally or externally at present[4, 254]. The leaves are antispasmodic, discutient, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, irritant, narcotic, sedative and sialagogue[4, 192, 213]. They are used externally in the treatment of rheumatic swelling, skin diseases and scorpion stings[240]. The plant should be used with great caution[4], when taken internally it is an addictive narcotic[222]. The active ingredients can also be absorbed through the skin[4]. Wet tobacco leaves can be applied to stings in order to relieve the pain[213]. They are also a certain cure for painful piles[4]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the dried leaves[232]. It is used in the treatment of nausea and travel sickness[232].


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Other Uses

Insecticide  Oil  Repellent

All parts of the plant contain nicotine, this has been extracted and used as an insecticide[20, 37, 46]. The dried leaves can also be used, they remain effective for 6 months after drying[169]. The juice of the leaves can be rubbed on the body as an insect repellent[213]. The leaves have been dried and chewed as an intoxicant. The dried leaves are also used as snuff or smoked. This is the main species that is used to make cigarettes and cigars. A drying oil is obtained from the seed[57, 171]. Dynamic accumulator.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Prefers a well-drained deep rich moist soil in a sunny position[1, 200]. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, but they can be grown as biennials in areas where winter temperatures do not fall below about -5°c[200]. A polymorphic species[50]. Tobacco is very widely cultivated for its leaves, there are many named varieties[183]. As well as being used as an insecticide, the leaves are used to make cigarettes, cigars, snuff and for chewing. There are many long-term health problems associated with these uses, especially from cancer, lung, circulatory and heart diseases. The plant accumulates potassium[18]. The plant has sweetly scented flowers that release most of their scent in the evening and attract moths[30]. Plant requires more than 14 hours daylight per day in order to induce flowering[169].


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Seed - surface sow in a warm greenhouse about 10 weeks before the last expected spring frosts. The seed usually germinates in 10 - 20 days at 20°c. Keep the soil moist and pot up as soon as the plants are big enough to handle, planting them out after the last expected frosts.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Nicotiana alataTobacco, Jasmine tobacco, Nicotiana, Jasmine Tobacco, Ornamental Tobacco, Flowering TobaccoPerennial0.6 6-9 SLMHNM003
Nicotiana glaucaTree TobaccoShrub3.0 7-10  LMHNM123
Nicotiana rusticaWild Tobacco, Aztec tobaccoAnnual1.5 7-10  LMHNM023

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

haroon   Wed Nov 3 15:03:49 2004

Link: neuroscience for kids-nicotine-

anna smith   Mon Apr 10 2006

U suck balls

g.sivakumar   Mon Dec 11 2006

details are far good but also i would like to know about how to use the plants to use in control for spider mites.

Tobacco Man   Mon Apr 27 2009

I Really adore this plant. What could possibly be more beautiful than a giant flowering nicotiana tabacum?\

   Sat Oct 10 2009

I'm not encouraging using it in the manner, but tobacco has historic use as an anthelmintic (kills worms) & purgative, in particular for horses and cattle.

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