Habit (Wanaaring, NSW). Photo: M.Fagg ANBG

Habit (Simpson Desert, SA). Photo: P. Canty  P. Canty

Inflorescence, flowers partially open (Simpson Desert, SA). Photo: P. Canty  P. Canty

Inflorescence with open flowers. Photo: A. Robinson A. Robinson

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

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

Seed (DE Symon 15356, AD). Photo Bob Baldock.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium, May 2006.


Nicotiana velutina H.-M. Wheeler, Univ. Calif. Publ. Bot. 18(4): 55 (1935) 

T: Broken Hill, N.S.W., 4 Oct., 1920, A. Morris s.n.; holo: NSW. 

N. suaveolens var. parviflora Benth., Fl. Austral. 4: 470 (1868), p.p., fide T.H. Goodspeed, Chron. Bot. 16: 465 (1954).


Herb to 1.5 m, variably pubescent with glandular and non-glandular hairs.

Leaves radical and cauline or mostly radical, usually elliptic, petiolate, the upper ones lanceolate or linear and often sessile; lamina up to 28 cm long; petiole to 15 cm long, usually narrowly winged, the base occasionally stem-clasping.  

Inflorescence panicle-like, usually few-branched. Calyx 5–17 mm long. Corolla-tube 11–35 mm long, 1–5 mm wide at top of calyx, distinctly narrowed at base; limb 7–30 mm diam., the lobes obtuse or notched. Upper 4 anthers at about the same level, their filaments to 3.5 mm long; filament of the 5th stamen 5–10 mm long, inserted in lower half of corolla-tube.  

Capsule ellipsoid to ovoid-ellipsoid, 5–11 mm long. Seeds mostly C-shaped; testa usually wrinkled. n=16.

Distribution and ecology

Widespread in southern N.T., S.A., south-western and south-central Qld, central and western N.S.W. and north-western Vic.  

An extremely common species which grows in sandy soil, often in disturbed areas, frequently on sand dunes and sand banks left by floods along inland rivers.


Very similar to N. maritima H.Wheeler and N. suaveolens Lehm. but distinguished by the velvety pubescence and C-shaped seeds; extends further into arid areas than these two species.


May hybridise with N. suaveolens Lehm. and N. megalosiphon Van Heurck & Muell.Arg. According to Pandey (1969) N. velutina has flowers which are self-compatible.

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.

 The most commonly met species in central Australia, but rarely used by Aboriginal people. See P. Latz, (1996). Bushfires and Bushtucker, Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia. (IAD Press, Alice Springs), and D. Symon (2005) Native tobaccos (Solanaceae: Nicotiana spp.) in Australia and their use by Aboriginal peoples. The Beagle 21: 1-10, for further information on this species.


Thought to be poisonous to stock.

Selected specimens

N.T.: 48 km SSW of Napperby Stn, M. Lazarides 6087 (AD, CANB, MEL, NT, PERTH). S.A.: 30 km NE of Leigh Creek, R. Schodde 981 (AD, CANB). Qld.: Poeppel Corner, D.E. Boyland 276 (BRI, CANB). N.S.W.: 12 km N of Milparinka, J. Pickard 3139 (NSW). Vic.: Wyperfeld National Park, 10 Sept. 1950, J.H. Willis (MEL).


Web links

Further information and images of this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site and a fact sheet can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.

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