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PlantFiles: Woodland Tobacco
Nicotiana sylvestris

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nicotiana (nih-ko-she-AH-na) (Info)
Species: sylvestris (sil-VESS-triss) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

43 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
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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By poppysue
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By ineedacupoftea
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There are a total of 15 photos.
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12 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Mar 13, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This easy annual self-sows reliably and not too aggressively here (Boston Z6a). It's also easy to pull out if it begins growing where it isn't wanted. It tolerates more shade than most annuals.

The large basal leaves give it a coarse texture that makes it stand out in the border. They're also a lighter, brighter green than most vegetation, but not chartreuse. The leaves and stems are hairy/sticky.

The white flowers seem to glow at twilight. They are only slightly fragrant during the day. They reserve their sweet, strong fragrance for the evening and night, as it was evolved to attract the night-flying moths that pollinate them.

I find that cutting off flower clusters before they go to seed encourages the plant to develop more flower clusters. Stems often need staking to remain upright. Stems that flop tend to develop new clusters of flowers at every node.

This plant is toxic in all its parts, smoking it is very risky. Smoking tobacco is a different species, N. tabacum.

Negative LMD1028 On Mar 12, 2015, LMD1028 from Westminster, CA wrote:

Anyone know how to get rid of this plant? It's taken over part of my yard. No clue how it got back there, we never planted it. It would be a great plant if it were in the flower beds, but it's growing in the middle of my grass and yard. I sat one day digging out the roots, it took hours. Doesn't help. I poured hot soapy water on them, they don't care.I even tried plant poison/killer spray, doesn't work. Anyone know any other way?

Positive JoySwede On Mar 22, 2014, JoySwede from Baudette, MN wrote:

I have been growing this plant from seed for over 13 years. I start it from seed every year and it does beautifully in my flowerbeds on the Minnesota/Canadian border. It loves heat, sun and fertility, and has grown to 6' tall in some locations, it will still take a little shade too though. I love it for it's white flowers that glow in the evening, with the darkening woods in the background. Our "hummingbird moths" love to sip from it as well in the evening. It has unusual large and bright green leaves that make it look tropical for Minnesota. Easy and has a strong scent.
I deadhead them to keep them attractive and the flowers keep coming until frost.

Positive DavidLMo On Jan 6, 2014, DavidLMo from St Joseph, MO wrote:

This is NOT smoking tobacco. If you smoke this you will likely die.
There are many tobaccos that can be smoked without killing you.

The primary tobacco used for smoking is Nicotiana tabacum.

Sylvestris and a few others (i.e. alata ) are grown for their scent.

Rustica is another that smells great and can be smoked if you have the guts as it will knock you on your fanny and mess up yer head :-) Used by Shamans in rituals.

I rate this one Positive because of the great smell.

Positive canadiangreen On Aug 21, 2012, canadiangreen from Lethbridge
Canada wrote:

I successfully started this plant from seed, transplanting it to a large barrel where it is growing 5 ft with many blooms. I did not expect to be able to grow this well in Southern Alberta.

Does anyone know if I should dead head this plant when the blooms are finished? Thanks.

Positive Happytogrow On Jul 17, 2012, Happytogrow from Montreal
Canada wrote:

Love it! I live in southern Quebec and house faces South, so front has full sun exposure. We just had 4 weeks without rain and my lawn is pale yellow and crackling, but my Nicotiana is doing superbly! I have not been watering regularly and it is almost 4' tall, flowering nicely and leave are bright green. Just pruned back some stems to help keep everything straight. Planted them in front of basement windows at 16" apart. Provides some shade from leaves but does not darken too much since top is airy. I open the basement windows during the night and the perfume just drifts in! Wonderful!

Positive sladeofsky On Apr 2, 2012, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

I grew this tobacco last year. When cold weather hit, it formed a basal rosette that persited through the mild winter and is now growing. I haven't read anything about this plant being a perrennial but I am happy it survived.
UPDATE: Last winter was much colder than the one before. My Tobacco plant did not form a rosette as id did the year before and I assume it would not return. However, I left a bit of the stem to mark its location. Now thee shoots are emerging around the stem. Is this a perennial?

Positive Fimiano On May 25, 2010, Fimiano from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

i have grown this in my minneapolis-zone 4-garden for the last 10 summers.two years ago, I took my garden down in the fall, but neglected to remove two stumps of n.sylvestris.Well, to my utter amazement, both of the stumps started sprouting the next spring! And they were the hugest sylvestris I've ever grown:7 ft! OK, some of u may be skeptics, but I left those same two stumps ther again last fall, and yes, they are sprouting again from the base of last summer's stumps! These are not new seedlings from seeds dropped by the flowers, but vigorous new leafs sprouting from the dead-appearing stumps. I am sure they will be giants again..I will take photos & post them.

Neutral TBGDN On Oct 22, 2006, TBGDN from (Zone 5a) wrote:

These annuals are NOT for the faint of heart, nor for the gardener who gets intimidated at TALL plants. They are massive growers with stems reaching 4-6 feet, and leaves which can measure up to 20" in length & 8-10" wide! I grew a few from seeds this spring in peat pots, and transplanted to their garden locations at 3-4" in height. Growth is rapid and can take over a 3-4 square foot area easily: So do plan accordingly and give them room.

My only experience with this plant was this year (2006), and I noted (like James above) that gnats and other insects get trapped by the sticky residue on the leaves and flowers. This is unsightly when plants are covered with gnats. I must add they are very easily grown after seeds have germinated, and the tiny plants have developed two sets of true leaves.

Positive Anitabryk2 On Jul 19, 2006, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Plant wintersowed nicely. It seems to be very happy in a spot that gets morning and afternoon sun and midday shade.

Positive ineedacupoftea On Sep 6, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

I wish to add some little bits about this nifty (and stinky-leafed) plant.

What I would call a "Winter Annual," that is, surviving zones 7 or 6 winters if it did not bloom the first season. I'm starting the seeds in situ in fall in warmer areas of my garden. (Heavy leaf mulch is always good.) They will return in spring to bloom early throughout the summer and even some after the first frost!

The leaves are sticky and often attract insects like fly paper, killing gnats by the hundred, someimtes coatin ghe leaves with dead insects until a rain. I do not know what kind of gnats (beneficial/pest) but it is quite pleasing to see!

Also extremely tolerant of full hot sun and dry air. -A good desert plant; many "full sun" things will fry at high altitude.

I have read somewhere about smoking this species. I'm not personally interested in the practice, but:
Nicotiana tabacum is the traditional smokable species.
Not processing one's leaves properly can leave (Fatally?) high levels of toxins in the leaves. Studies show that (proper, informed) propagation of one's own tobacco is much healthier than commercial additive-ridden tobaccos. (and hyper-tax free) But it is still not exactly good for your health.

Positive nelledoor On Sep 6, 2005, nelledoor from Lavina, MT (Zone 4a) wrote:

A tiny start given to me by my favorite gardener, I really had no idea about this plant - will be a staple in my garden - and in pots on my deck as the jasmine fragrance in the evening is exotic!! It's very easy to just tip with your finger the dried seed pod into a paper envelope to collect seed. Very seeds are very tiny. I'm Zone 3-4 in this part of central Montana.

Positive maineroses On Aug 30, 2005, maineroses from Milo, ME (Zone 4a) wrote:

grew great in Maine i want to see if it winters well

is this the smoking tobacco?does anyone know.....

Positive Ladyfern On Aug 7, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

It actually grows and looks good in my SW bed! (Most plants fail to thrive in that exposure.) AND being right against the brick wall, it has enough protection for the roots to make it through the winter here in zone 6! So the plants are going to need dividing soon! Those drooping flowers are so interesting looking and the foliage a refreshing lime green.

Neutral poppysue On Aug 8, 2001, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

An old fashioned favorite grown for its fragrance and unique panicles of drooping white flowers. Plants grow up to 6 feet tall and prefer full sun.


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

Auburn, Alabama
Calistoga, California
San Jose, California
Tulare, California
Westminster, California
Clifton, Colorado
Canton, Georgia
Champaign, Illinois
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Macy, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Blue Springs, Missouri
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Saint Peters, Missouri
Roundup, Montana
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Champlain, New York
Ronkonkoma, New York
Wallkill, New York
Dover, Ohio
Thackerville, Oklahoma
Grants Pass, Oregon
Houston, Pennsylvania
Kintnersville, Pennsylvania
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
San Antonio, Texas
Ogden, Utah
Seattle, Washington

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