Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tree Tobacco
Nicotiana glauca

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nicotiana (nih-ko-she-AH-na) (Info)
Species: glauca (GLAW-kuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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Thumbnail #1 of Nicotiana glauca by KMAC

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #2 of Nicotiana glauca by kennedyh

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #3 of Nicotiana glauca by kennedyh

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Thumbnail #7 of Nicotiana glauca by htop

There are a total of 25 photos.
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5 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive islay On Aug 27, 2012, islay from Long Beach, CA wrote:

It just appeared and grew rapidly in a corner. We are in the City of Long Beach , I am sick of dropped flowers and seedlings but haven't the heart to remove it because the birds love it .
Now 20' tall it will get a severe pruning this week because my neighbour is complaining about branches arching over our wall.
We have noticed an explosion of wildlife in the garden since this tree arrived .i would like to try and keep it at 10 or 15 feet in the future .
Messy but well worth it for the butterflies and birds .

Negative bethlewitt2000 On Oct 30, 2011, bethlewitt2000 from LA JOLLA, CA wrote:

This is an invasive pest in Southern California that we have been working to eliminate. Please do not plant it where it is considered to be a problem. Also do remember that it is poisonous. Thank you

Positive hamster3null On Jun 25, 2010, hamster3null from Escondido, CA wrote:

This thing grew up in a remote corner of my lot, in poor packed sandy soil that's never been tilled, fertilized, or used to grow anything before, without any assistance (though there's a couple of low flow rate drippers nearby, which I routed there last year in hopes of starting some groundcover). I'm pretty sure it wasn't there a year ago. It managed to grow at least 8' tall in less than a year. More likely, in six months. Here I am going to extreme pains trying to grow nursery-bought roses and bougainvilleas not 20 feet from that spot, and this plant just shows up and effortlessly grows taller than anything I've planted.

Maybe I should plant more of those around the lot. Too bad they are poisonous.

Positive sherman99 On May 25, 2010, sherman99 from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

plant grows voluntarily on property. well worth having due to the wildlife benefit.

Positive dabarnes On Aug 7, 2008, dabarnes from Tucson, AZ wrote:

I have no problem with these getting out of control in the desert. I planted a few seeds three years ago and had one plant. None grew last year and this year three are growing nicely. The hummingbirds and Sphinx moths love them. Some of my gourd vines are climbing on the sturdy branches and it has saved me from having to provide additional support. It looks pretty cool with the yellow flowers and baby bottle neck gouds hanging from it. This plant needs water to survive, so it's great for the desert since it only seems to trive during the rainey season.

Neutral htop On Mar 11, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this tree or shrub which is native to Bolivia and Argentina. Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) also is known by the common names mustard tree, wild tobacco, wildetabak, Mexican tobacco, tabaco Cimarron, taba, Don Juan and Brazilian tree tobacco. Tree tobacco has become naturalized in the southwestern United States, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and Hawaii where it is considered a common weed by some. Preferring moist, but well-drained soil, it can be found in gravelly/sandy washes and at river edges.

Tree tobacco is small, evergreen tree or shrub with a loose-branching habit. It grows between 6 and 25 feet tall; however, it is usually between 6 and 15 feet tall. The opposite, smooth, large lance-shaped leaves appear on short stalks and clasp the stems. The thickish, oblong, silvery blue-green, rubbery leaves are opposite each other low on the branches. Lacking stalks, the upper leaves lie in an upward angle against the branches. They become smaller as they near the end of the branches near the flowering portion. The bark has a waxy coating.

Tree tobacco usually blooms from mid-March through November; however, in warm climates it will bloom all year. The up to 2-inch (5 cm) long, tubular flowers are loosely clustered at the branch tips. The flowers attract hummingbirds and are pollinated by butterflies and moths.

Nicotiana glauca is propagated by cuttings or by seed. Seed should be surface-sown because they need light to germinate. They can be sown in the spring; however, for an earlier and, thus, longer bloom time, start the seeds about 8 to10 weeks before the usual last frost date.

Tree tobacco contains the toxic alkaloid anabasine and all parts of the evergreen plant are toxic year-round. In Texas, cattle and horses are most frequently poisoned. Tree tobacco has been publicized as a safe, hallucinogenic plant on some internet websites; however, smoking and/or ingesting the plant has lead to death. The use of Nicotiana glauca derivatives is being studied as a possible treatment for nicotine addiction because it does not contain nicotine.

Neutral frostweed On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Tree Tobacco Nicotiana glauca ia naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

Neutral dlnorton On Mar 19, 2004, dlnorton from Riverside, CA wrote:

I've seen this tree in my area, Riverside, CA. Some folks grow it simply because it'll grow just about anywhere. I've also seen it growing in vacant lots and undeveloped areas. We have a couple plants out behind our warehouse where I work. I've heard it being called "Indian Tobacco" ...refering to the Native Americans...but don't hold me to it.

Positive jacaranda On Mar 6, 2003, jacaranda wrote:

There is a tree in my backyard, in Puerto Rico, I know is nicotiana, but the flowers are smaller, same shape, and white. Every bird, all kinds of insects, love this tree. Unfortunately, every seed that falls on pots, or ground becomes a seedling.

It could become a pest. However, that is a small price while watching all the life it feeds.

Neutral lupinelover On Jan 30, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Considered to be a noxious weed in parts of the US.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tucson, Arizona
Anaheim, California
Cabazon, California
Citrus Heights, California
Del Mar, California
Escondido, California
La Mesa, California
Long Beach, California
Los Angeles, California
Malibu, California
Menifee, California
San Diego, California (5 reports)
Santa Rosa, California
Yosemite Lakes, California
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Barbourville, Kentucky
Henderson, Nevada
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Big Bend National Park, Texas

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