Photo: P. Latz Parks & WildlifeCommission of NT

Photo: A. Robinson A. Robinson

Photo: M. Fagg ANBG

Line drawing by P. Horton showing basal leaf and inflorescence.

Image reproduced with permission from Japan Tobacco Inc. from The genus Nicotiana illustrated (1994).

Seed (P Horton 211, AD). Photo Bob Baldock.

Most of the dots, apart from those in more northerly coastal regions, represent the widespread ssp. obliqua .


Nicotiana occidentalis subsp. obliqua N.T.Burb., Austral. J. Bot. 8: 364; t. 8, fig. 2 (1960) 

T: Victoria Desert, Camp 53, W.A., 15 Sept. 1891, R. Helms s.n.; holo: NSW 47228; iso: AD, MEL.


Herb to 1.3 m, densely pubescent with sticky, glandular hairs.  

Radical leaves elliptic; lamina up to 20 cm long; petiole to 5 (occasionally 16) cm long, broadly winged, the base usually slightly stem-clasping; cauline leaves narrower, the upper ones pandurate or lanceolate and sessile, their bases usually auriculate and somewhat stem-clasping.  

Inflorescence panicle-like, few-branched; lower bracts usually leafy. Calyx 5–14 mm long, usually quarter to half the length of corolla-tube. Corolla-tube 15–40 mm long, 1–4 mm wide at top of calyx; limb 10–25 mm diam., the lobes notched. Upper 4 anthers at the same level, their filaments 1–5 mm long; filament of 5th stamen 3.5–6 mm long, inserted in upper half of corolla-tube or about half-way down. Cleistogamous flowers (with shorter tube than given above) particularly common 

Capsule ovoid to ellipsoid, 7–14 mm long. Seeds acutely angled or reniform; testa irregularly honeycombed or wrinkled.  n=21.

Distribution and ecology

Particularly widespread in arid regions of W.A., N.T. and S.A. south of latitude 21°S, extending to far western Qld and N.S.W.  

Grows under trees and shrubs in hummock grassland on sandy plains, and along rocky creeklines.


This, the most widespread subspecies, can usually be distinguished from subsp. occidentalis by the shorter corolla tube and from subsp. hesperis by the acutely-angled or reniform seeds.

According to Pandey (1969) this species has flowers which are self-compatible - the observations most likely related to this subspecies.

Reference: Pandey, K. K. (1969) Elements of the S-gene complex V. Interspecific cross-compatibility relationships and theory of the evolution of the S complex. Genetica 40, 447-474.


A valuable summary of the cultural use of Nicotiana species in Australia is provided in D.E.Symon (2005). Native tobaccos (Solanaceae: Nicotiana spp.) in Australia and their use by Aboriginal peoples. The Beagle 21: 1-10.

Selected specimens

W.A.: About 82 km N of Carnarvon, A.M. Ashby 2242 (PERTH). N.T.: Charlotte Waters, 6 July 1955, G. Chippendale (NSW); Mt Fraser, P.K. Latz 5063 (AD, NT); near Alice Springs, D.J. Nelson 2213 (AD, CANB). S.A.: near Cordillo Downs Homestead, T.R.N. Lothian 647 (AD).


Web links

Further information and images of this subspecies in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site. A fact sheet can also be downloaded from the SA eFlora site. Here it is treated as the species since the other two subspecies do not occur in SA.

Further information and images for this species in WA can be found on the FloraBase site.