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Nicotiana obtusifolia (Desert tobacco)
Anderson, Wynn

Nicotiana obtusifolia

Nicotiana obtusifolia M. Martens & Galeotti

Desert Tobacco, Little Tobacco, Tabaquillo, Punche

Solanaceae (Potato Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Sticky-glandular stems and leaves, with trumpet-shaped, white flowers in a loosely branched cluster at the top.

The Spanish name, pronounced tah-bah-kee'-oh, means "little tobacco." Also once called Punche ("a punch") by Spanish Americans, who carefully tended it for tobacco and medicinal use, it is still smoked by native peoples in traditional ceremonies. Coyote Tobacco (N. attenuata), from British Columbia to Baja California, east to New Mexico, Colorado, and northern Idaho, has fewer glands, short triangular calyx lobes, and dingy white, trumpet-shaped corollas 1-1 1/2 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) long. Grows in full sun in dry habitats.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual , Perennial , Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
Bloom Notes: White to greenish. May flower year-round at lower elevations.


USA: AZ , CA , MD , NM , NV , OK , TX , UT
Native Distribution: Southeastern California and southern Nevada to western Texas and northwestern New Mexico.
Native Habitat: Sandy areas and washes.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes


Warning: Poisonous if eaten. Contains nicotine.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Nicotiana obtusifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Nicotiana obtusifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Nicotiana obtusifolia


Record Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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