Nicotiana tabacum is a robust annual little branched herb up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) high with large green leaves and long trumpet shaped white-pinkish flowers. All parts are sticky, covered with short viscid-glandular hairs, which exude a yellow secretion containing nicotine.
Very varied in size, the lower leaves are the largest up to 60 cm (24 in) long, shortly stalked or unstalked, oblonged-elliptic, shortly acuminate at the apex, decurrent at the base, the following leaves decrease in size, the upper one sessile and smallest, oblong- lanceolate or elliptic.
In terminal, many flowered inflorescences, the tube 5?6 cm (2.0?2.4 in) long, 5 mm (0.20 in) in diameter, expanded in the lower third (calyx) and upper third (throat), lobes broadly triangular, white-pinkish with pale violet or carmine colored tips tube yellowish white; calyx with five narrowly triangular lobes which are 1.5?2 cm (0.59?0.79 in) long.A capsular ovoid or ellipsoid, surrounded by the persistent calyx and with a short apical beak, about 2 cm (0.79 in) long. Seeds are very numerous, very small, ovoid or kidney shaped, brown.
Tobacco has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant, though since it contains nicotine, a highly additive drug, it is seldom employed internally or externally at present. The active ingredients can also be absorbed through the skin.
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.
Prefers a well-drained deep rich moist soil in a sunny position. 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. A polymorphic species. Tobacco is very widely cultivated for its leaves, there are many named varieties. 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. The plant has sweetly scented flowers that release most of their scent in the evening and attract moths. Plant requires more than 14 hours daylight per day in order to induce flowering.
Problems, pests & diseases
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