Nicotiana rustica, Aztec tobacco seeds
Nicotiana rustica belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. The plant is also
known as Aztec tobacco and Wild tobacco. Jean Nicot brought the Nicotiana species 1560 to France. In honor to that
the plant was named Nicotina. N. rustica is probably native to Peru where it is a hybrid of
Nicotiana undulata and Nicotiana paniculata.
N. rustica is an annual, herbaceous plant. It reaches a height of 30 to 120 cm. It can barely get
up to 150 cm. It is not as big as N. tabacum. The whole plant is sticky and hairy. The oblong,
ovate or heart shaped leaves can get 10 to 30 cm long and have 5 to 15 cm long petioles.
The flowers are greenish yellowish. The corolla is made of 5 corolla leaves that are grown
together. The fruit which is a capsule can reach 1 to 1, 6 cm in diameter and is brownish. The
capsule is surrounded by the big calyx. It includes various seeds that get just 1 mm long.
N. rustica includes twice as much of the alkaloid nicotine than N. tabacum. The fresh leaves
include between 4 and 8 % nicotine the dry ones up to 16%. Nicotine is used by the plant to
be protected against herbivory. It is has a stimulating effect on the muscarin receptor in the
brain of humans. Thereby one should not forget that nicotine is poisonous. N. rustica is used
in Europe to gain more nicotine and as a pesticide. N. rustica is rated as too strong to be used
for cigarettes. In South- and Centralamerica the plant is consumed in water pipes.
The seeds of N. rustica do not need any pretreatment. N. rustica is a light germinator. The
seeds have to be sprinkled on the substrate and pressed slightly in. N. rustica needs a sunny
and warm place (15 to 20°C). It should be moist all the time but not wet. Germination occurs
after 1 to 3 weeks. It grows nearly on each substrate and is quite undemanding.
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