Nicotiana tabacum | ‘Cultivated Tobacco’ | Seeds
Nicotiana tabacum (syn. Nicotiana chinensis, Nicotiana latissima, Nicotiana mexicana, Nicotiana pilosa, Nicotiana tabaca) is a popular herbaceous annual of the Solanaceae family which surely needs no introduction, given the complex love/hate relationship our species has with the plant, its products and its poisons!
Commonly known as the ‘Cultivated Tobacco’ or ‘Large Leaf Tobacco’, tabacum is found only in cultivation, although some reports place its origins to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, where it was supposedly first used by Arawak/Taino peoples. Genetically, the species is currently thought to be a hybrid of Nicotiana sylvestris, Nicotiana tomentosiformis and, possibly, Nicotiana otophora.
Growing as a branching bush or shrub to approximately two and a half metres tall, Nicotiana tabacum is a very attractive plant (albeit sticky with nicotine), sprouting broad, green leaves (up to roughly sixty centimetres in length) and distinctive, surprisingly beautiful trumpet-shaped white-pink-violet pink flowers (up to approximately six centimetres long).
As unarguably the most popular commercial species of tobacco, tabacum is consequently the most commonly grown Nicotiana species in the whole world. With almost the entire plant containing nicotine, it was and is used as an insect repellent, insecticide and pest control (its use as a poison in an 1851 murder was a milestone in forensic medicine), for chewing, smoking and as a snuff (ritually and recreationally). Medicinally, it’s been used to treat asthma, baldness, boils and infections, bronchitis and sore throat, bruises, dermatitis, dysmenorrhea, eye problems, fatigue, fungal disease, headache, indigestion, kidney disease, myiasis, pneumonia, pulmonary conditions, rheumatism, snakebite, stomatitis, worms, ulcers, sores, lesions and wounds. The plant is also grown commercially for its value as an ornamental.
Nicotiana tabacum is easy to grow from seed, with plants quickly reaching up to a metre and a quarter in height. Space them at least a metre apart to allow them room to grow to maturity, in a low-nitrogen, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil. Place in full sun; a temperature of 20°C-30°C with an atmospheric humidity of 80 to 85% is best.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced