Nicotiana tabacum seeds
Nicotiana tabacum belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. It is native to America but today it is grown all over the world. Jean Nicot brought N. tabacum 1560 to France. In honor to that the plant was named Nicotina. N. tabacum is also known as cultivated Tobacco. N. tabacum is probably a natural hybrid between Nicotina sylvestris and Nicotina tomentosiformis.
N. tabacum is an annual herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 1 to 3 m. The plant is glandular, sticky and hairy in all green parts. The leaves can get half a meter long and are elliptic, ovate and spiry. They alternate and go around the shoot. In the German language the leaves are put into categories from the bottom to the top. They are called: Grumpen, Sandblatt, Hauptgut and Obergut. The Grumpen has a bad quality whereas the Obergut has the best quality.
The flowers are funnel shaped, the five crown leaves are rose or red. The ovary includes several ovules. N. tabacum has 2000 to 8000 seeds per capsule. The capsule is the fruit of N. tabacum. One plant can have over one million seeds. The seeds are very small not bigger as 1mm. N. tabacum is facultative self fertile.
The leaves of the plant include the alkaloid nicotin. The fresh leaves include 0, 9 to 1 % nicotin, when dried it can reach up to 9 % of nicotin. Nicotin is used by the plant to be protected against herbivory. It is included in cigarettes and has a stimulating effect on the muscarin receptor in the brain. Thereby one should not forget that nicotin is poisonous. Consuming N. tabacum has a long history. In Guatemala one has found clay pots with pictures of Maya women on it. They smoked the leaves of N. tabacum pure just tight together with a cord. The Maya believed that the smoke of tobacco helps to get rid of evil ghosts.
The seeds of N. tabacum do not need any pretreatment. N. tabacum is a light germinator. The seeds have to be sprinkled on the substrate and pressed slightly in. N. tabacum needs a sunny and warm place (21 to 27°C). It should be moist all the time but not wet. Germination occurs after 1 to 3 weeks.
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