Development in Nicotiana Tabacum Plants


The tropical herb tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum, is native to Tropical America and quickly grows from seed when temperatures are warm and humidity is high. The tall plant forms fibrous roots and a rosette of large leaves topped by a flower stem of fragrant pink blossoms.


When sunlight is present and temperatures are above 21 degrees Celsius, the tiny black seeds of tobacco germinate. Once laid atop a moist, warm sandy soil that is rich in organic matter, the seeds sprout typically in 7 days.

Initial Growth

Once the seed germinates, the taproot quickly forms and the first true leaves are produced. Ambient heat and humidity hasten growth.


For two to four months the root system expands its fibrous matrix, producing nicotine and transporting it in the plant sap. Plants attain a size of 3 to 4 feet, with many large oval leaves emanating from the main stem.


The long days and heat of midsummer will trigger the elongation of the central stem, towering it 4 to 6 feet above the foliage to bear pink tubular flowers. These fragrant blossoms are pollinated by moths, hummingbirds and bees.

Seed Production

After pollination, fertilization occurs once the pollen sperm cells meet the eggs. The flower withers, leaving the rounded flower base, the ovary, to mature. The fruit ripens before splitting and releasing fine, tiny black seeds.

Plant Decline

After maturation of fruit, the tobacco plant does not expand growth with stems or additional foliage. Once the seeds drop, the plant degrades and will be killed by frost or drought.


  • "Economic Botany: Plants in Our World, 2nd Ed."; Beryl Brintnall Simpson and Molly Conner Ogorzaly; 1995
  • Univ. of California, Los Angeles: The Filthy Weed

Who Can Help

  • Nicotiana tabacum
Keywords: Nicotiana, tobacco plants, plant development

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.