Nicotiana tabacum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Tribe: Nicotianeae
Genus: Nicotiana
Type species
Nicotiana tabacum

See text

  • Amphipleis Raf.
  • Blenocoes Raf.
  • Dittostigma Phil.
  • Eucapnia Raf.
  • Langsdorfia Raf.
  • Lehmannia Spreng.
  • Merinthe Salisb.
  • Nicotia Opiz
  • Nicotidendron Griseb.
  • Perieteris Raf.
  • Polydiclis Miers
  • Sairanthus G.Don
  • Siphaulax Raf.
  • Tabacum Gilib.
  • Tabacus Moench
  • Waddingtonia Phil.

Nicotiana (/ˌnɪkʃiˈnə, nɪˌk-, -kɒti-, -ˈɑːnə, -ˈænə/[2][3][4]) is a genus of herbaceous plants and shrubs in the family Solanaceae, that is indigenous to the Americas, Australia, Southwestern Africa and the South Pacific. Various Nicotiana species, commonly referred to as tobacco plants, are cultivated as ornamental garden plants. N. tabacum is grown worldwide for the cultivation of tobacco leaves used for manufacturing and producing tobacco products, including cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, snuff, and snus.



Cross section of Nicotiana tabacum corolla, showing pistil and stamens

The 79 known species include:[1][5][6]

Manmade hybrids

Formerly placed here

  • Petunia axillaris (Lam.) Britton et al. (as N. axillaris Lam.) – large white petunia, wild white petunia, white moon petunia[10]


The genus Nicotiana (from which the word nicotine is derived) was named in honor of Jean Nicot, French ambassador to Portugal, who in 1559 sent samples as a medicine to the court of Catherine de' Medici.[11]


Illustration with photographs of tobacco leaves infested by Lasioderma serricorne (tobacco beetles), from Runner, G. A., The tobacco beetle (1919), Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Biodiversity Heritage Library
Female specimen of Manduca sexta (five-spotted hawkmoth)

Despite containing enough nicotine and/or other compounds such as germacrene and anabasine and other piperidine alkaloids (varying between species) to deter most herbivores,[12] a number of such animals have evolved the ability to feed on Nicotiana species without being harmed. Nonetheless, tobacco is unpalatable to many species and therefore some tobacco plants (chiefly tree tobacco (N. glauca)) have become established as invasive species in some places.[13]

In the 19th century, young tobacco plantings came under increasing attack from flea beetles (the potato flea beetle (Epitrix cucumeris) and/or ), causing the destruction of half the United States tobacco crop in 1876. In the years afterward, many experiments were attempted and discussed to control the potato flea beetle. By 1880, it was discovered that covering young plants with a frame covered with thin fabric (instead of with branches, as had previously been used for frost control) would effectively protect the plants from the beetle. This practice spread until it became ubiquitous in the 1890s.[citation needed]

Tobacco, alongside its related products, can be infested by parasites such as the tobacco beetle (Lasioderma serricorne) and the tobacco moth (Ephestia elutella), which are the most widespread and damaging pests in the tobacco industry.[14] Infestation can range from the tobacco cultivated in the fields to the leaves used for manufacturing cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, etc.[14] Both the grubs of Lasioderma serricorne and the caterpillars of Ephestia elutella are considered major pests.[14]

Other moths whose caterpillars feed on Nicotiana include:

These are mainly Noctuidae, but they also comprise Sphingidae, Gelechiidae, and Crambidae.

Nicotiana sylvestris
Nicotiana alata
Nicotiana langsdorffii
Nicotiana obtusifolia
Nicotiana × sanderae ornamental cultivar


Several species of Nicotiana, such as N. sylvestris,[17] N. alata 'Lime Green'[18][19] and N. langsdorffii are grown as ornamental plants, often under the name of flowering tobacco.[5][20] They are popular vespertines (evening bloomers); their sweet-smelling flowers opening in the evening to be visited by hawkmoths and other pollinators. In temperate climates, they behave as annuals (hardiness 9a-11).[21] The hybrid cultivar 'Lime Green'[19] has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[22]

Garden varieties are derived from N. alata (e.g., the 'Niki' and 'Saratoga' series) and more recently from Nicotiana × sanderae (e.g., the 'Perfume' and 'Domino' series).[20]

The tobacco budworm (Chloridea virescens) has proved to be a massive "pest" of many species in the genus, and has resisted many attempts at management.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Nicotiana L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Nicotiana". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-03-22.
  3. ^ "Nicotiana". Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  4. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  5. ^ a b "Nicotiana". Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  6. ^ "Search results — The Plant List". Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Knapp et al. (2004) Nomenclatural changes and a new sectional classification in Nicotiana (Solanaceae) Taxon. 53(1):73-82.
  8. ^ a b Bot, Ann (2003). "Molecular Systematics, GISH and the Origin of Hybrid Taxa in Nicotiana (Solanaceae)". Annals of Botany. 92 (1): 107–127. doi:10.1093/aob/mcg087. PMC 4243627. PMID 12824072.
  9. ^ Clausen, R.E. (1928) Interspecific hybridization in Nicotiana. VII. The cytology of hybrids of the synthetic species, digluta, with its parents, glutinosa and tabacum. Univ. Cal. Pub. Botany. 11(10):177-211.
  10. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Nicotiana". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-30. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Austin, Gregory. "Chronology of Psychoactive Substance Use". Teachers College Columbia University. Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  12. ^ Panter, KE; Keeler, RF; Bunch, TD; Callan, RJ (1990). "Congenital skeletal malformations and cleft palate induced in goats by ingestion of Lupinus, Conium and Nicotiana species". Toxicon. 28 (12): 1377–1385. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(90)90154-Y. PMID 2089736.
  13. ^ "Nicotiana glauca (Tree Tobacco) Key". BioNET-EAFRINET.
  14. ^ a b c Ryan, L., ed. (1995). "Introduction". Post-harvest Tobacco Infestation Control. Norwell, Massachusetts and Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 1–4. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-2723-5_1. ISBN 978-94-017-2723-5.
  15. ^ United States. Agricultural Research Service (1984), Suppression and Management of Cabbage Looper Populations, U.S. States Dept. of Agriculture, retrieved 25 September 2017
  16. ^ a b c d Hayden, James E.; Lee, Sangmi; Passoa, Steven C.; Young, James; Landry, Jean-François; Nazari, Vazrick; Mally, Richard; Somma, Louis A.; Ahlmark, Kurt M. (2013). "Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae". Digital Identification of Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae. Fort Collins, Colorado: USDA-APHIS-PPQ Identification Technology Program (ITP). Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  17. ^ "RHS advice & tips on garden & indoor plants | Plant finder & selector / RHS Gardening". Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  18. ^ "'Lime Green' flowering tobacco". Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Nicotiana 'Lime Green'". RHS Gardening. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  20. ^ a b "The National Garden Bureau". Archived from the original on 2015-04-21. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
  21. ^ "PlantFiles: Nicotiana Species, Flowering Tobacco". Dave's Garden. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  22. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 69. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Tobacco budworm - Heliothis virescens (Fabricius)". Retrieved 2017-11-09.


External links