Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
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Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Solanaceae

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 180 (1753).

Derivation: After Jean Nicot, 1530-1600, French Ambassador at Lisbon, who sent tobacco plant seeds to France in 1560.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: None

Annual or short-lived perennial herbs or spindly perennial shrubs, glabrous to pubescent with nonglandular or glandular hairs; leaves alternate, petiolate or sessile, radical and/or cauline; lamina simple, entire or sinuate; petiole winged or terete.

Inflorescence paniculate, rarely racemose, the flowers subtended by bracts, or flowers solitary; flowers bisexual, pedicellate, actinomorphic or slightly zygomorphic; calyx cylindrical or narrowly campanulate; sepals 5, fused basally to almost entirely; corolla salverform, white and often tinged green or purple, or yellow; limb 5-lobed; stamens 5 all equal or 4 (at one level or in 2 unequal pairs) near the top of the corolla and 1 lower down, included or rarely slightly exserted; anthers 2-locular, longitudinally dehiscent; ovary 2-celled; disk often orange-red; style as long as the corolla tube; stigma 2-lobed.

Fruit an ellipsoid or ovoid 2-celled capsule, brown at maturity, dehiscing from the apex into 4 valves (rarely 2); seeds minute, numerous, brown, almost straight, angled, reniform, or C-shaped; testa reticulate or wrinkled.

Distribution:  About 64 species, in North and South America, south-western Africa, some southern Pacific islands, and Australia. Wild tobaccos, native tobaccos.

Biology: No text

Uses: Commercial tobacco is largely derived from N. tabacura L. and N. rustica L., and several native species were used by Australian Aborigines as chewing tobacco. Australian species are mostly malodorous except for the flowers which may be delicately perfumed. The flowers close in sunlight and open in dim light and at night (in N. glauca they remain open in sunlight).

Taxonomic notes: In all Australian species the flowers may be cleistogamous, particularly in older plants, and in extreme cases the corolla is so reduced as to be shorter than the calyx. The key and descriptions are based on chasmogamous flowers. (Goodspeed, T. H. (1954) The genus Nicotiana. Chron. Bot. 16:1-536; Horton, P. (1981) A taxonomic revision of Nicotiana (Solanaceae) in Australia. J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 3:1-56.)

Key to Species:
1. Perennial spindly shrub; corolla yellow
N. glauca 3.
1. Annual or short-lived perennial herb; corolla white or whitish
2. Sticky ellipsoid-headed hairs present on all parts
N. occidentalis 7.
2. Sticky ellipsoid-headed hairs absent
3. Flowering stems leafy
N. burbidgeae 1.
3. Flowering stems leafless at least above
4. Cauline leaves decurrent on the stem; plants glabrous
N. excelsior 2.
4. Cauline leaves not decurrent on the stem; plants glabrous or pubescent
5. Leaves mostly cauline, broadly auriculate and stem-clasping
N. gossei 5.
5. Leaves mostly radical; cauline leaves not auriculate or stem-clasping
6. Corolla tube usually longer than 25 mm, if shorter then plants glabrous
7. Plants pubescent; capsules not more than twice as long as wide
N. simulans 9.
7. Plants glabrous or glabrescent; capsules often more than twice as long as wide
8. Plants glabrous; corolla tube shorter than 20 mm; seeds C-shaped
N. goodspeedii 4.
8. Plants pubescent; corolla tube usually longer than 25 mm; seeds reniform
N. rosulata 8.
6. Corolla tube usually shorter than 25 mm; plants pubescent
9. Pubescence at the base of the plant grey- or white-woolly; seeds reniform
N. maritima 6.
9. Pubescence at the base of the plant not grey- or white-woolly; seeds C-shaped
N. velutina 10.

Author: Prepared by P. Horton

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