Nicotiana glauca is a species of flowering plant in the tobacco genus Nicotiana of the nightshade family Solanaceae. It is known by the common name tree tobacco. Its leaves are attached to the stalk by petioles (many other Nicotiana species have sessile leaves), and its leaves and stems are neither pubescent nor sticky like Nicotiana tabacum. It resembles Cestrum parqui but differs in the form of leaves and fusion of the outer floral parts. It grows to heights of more than two meters.
Tree tobacco is native to South America but it is now widespread as an introduced species on other continents. It is a common roadside weed in the southwestern United States, and an invasive plant species in California native plant habitats.
Nicotiana glauca is a small tree or shrub with many branches that normally grows to over 2 m, but can reach as high as 7 m. Its leaves are thick and rubbery and can be up to 20cm long. It has yellow tubular flowers about 5 cm long and 1 cm wide. The plant primarily reproduces by seed.
Nicotiana glauca can pose a threat to native species by outcompeting them for resources and is classified as an invasive species in many parts of the world. In some management programs, the beetle Malabris aculeata has been successfully deployed as a biological control agent. Every part of the plant is potentially poisonous to humans and livestock.
It is originally native to South America (including Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador), but has been naturalized globally. It is found in Australia, warmer parts of Europe, temperate Asia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Hawaii, and Sub-Saharan Africa (including Kenya and Tanzania, where it is invasive, as well as Uganda).
It grows in a wide variety of open and disturbed habitats including lakeshores and roadsides, but is mainly a problem in relatively dry areas.
The plant is commonly known in English as tree tobacco, mustard tree, tobacco bush, tobacco plant, tobacco tree, and wild tobacco. It is also known as blaugrüner tabak ("blue-green tobacco") in German.
Its Latin name, Nicotiana glauca, was given to it in 1828 by Robert Graham (botanist). The genus is named after Jean Nicot (c.1530-1600), a French ambassador to Portugal, who sent tobacco seeds and powdered leaves from Lisbon to France.
The plant is used for a variety of medicinal purposes and smoked by Native American groups. The Cahuilla people used leaves interchangeably with other tobacco species in hunting rituals and as a poultice to treat swellings, bruises, cuts, wounds, boils, sores, inflamed throat, and swollen glands. It contains the toxic alkaloid anabasine and ingestion of the leaves can be fatal. It is being investigated for use as a biofuel.
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- Media, BioAge. "Green Car Congress: Prickly Pears and Tree Tobacco for Ethanol Production in Semi-Arid Regions". www.greencarcongress.com. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- Media related to Nicotiana glauca at Wikimedia Commons
- "N. glauca Graham". Jepson Manual Treatment.
- "Nicotiana glauca". Plants For A Future.
- "Nicotiana glauca Photo Gallery". CalPhotos.