Nicotiana glauca seeds - tree tobacco / blue green tobacco
Nicotiana glauca belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. It is native to
Argentina and Bolivia. Today it is distributed in almost all tropical areas worldwide. N.
glauca grows at sea level but also at an altitude of 3000 m above sea level. In many areas N.
glauca is almost a problem because it grows and distributes very fast. Many native species
vanish because of that. They cannot stand the competition pressure. Due to this fact, many
countries see N. glauca as an invasive species. N. glauca is the only invasive species of all
N. glauca is also known as tree tobacco and blue green tobacco.
N. glauca grows as a perennial shrub; most other tobacco species are herbaceous, annual
species. The tree tobacco reaches a height of about 3 m, sometimes it can even get 6 m high.
The leaves are ovate, simple and leathery. They get up to 20 cm long and are silver to blue in
color. That’s why it is called blue green tobacco. The leaves have 3 to 12 cm long petioles.
The leaves are not pubescent or sticky like most of the other Nicotiana species.
The leaves should not be eaten or smoked. They contain nicotine but as well another Alkaloid,
nornicotine. Noricotine is quite similar to nicotine but is much more potent than nicotine and
can lead to death. The tree tobacco contains much more nornicotine than nicotine. It should
not be used as luxury food.
The Native Americans used the plant in medicine. The leaves were used as poultice for
cuttings or swellings in the skin. They also used the leaves for different rituals before they
have gone hunting.
The flowers are yellow, tubular and get 5 cm long and 1 cm wide. They are clustered in
panicles. The flowers are mainly pollinated by butterflies. The hummingbird is another
potential pollinator in America. The flower produces much nectar so that the hummingbird
gets enough food from the flowers.
The fruit are capsules that get 1,5 cm long and contain hundreds of very small seeds. They get
just 0,5 cm long.
The seeds of the tree tobacco do not need any pretreatment. The seeds have to be put on to the
substrate. N. glauca is a light germinator. The substrate should be constantly moist at a
temperature of about 20 to 23°C. Germination occurs very quickly. The first seeds germinate
after just 1 to 3 weeks.
The tree tobacco is winter hardy. It can stand temperatures down to minus 7 °C. But in
Europe it should be put into the house over winter, just to be sure that it survives.