Nicotiana rustica is a wild tobacco native to the rainforests of North and South America that has a very high nicotine content. Over time, seeds of this plant made their way to the American Southwest region to be cultivated for centuries by the Hopi Nation where it is considered a sacred ceremonial plant. Also known as Wild Tobacco, Hopi Tobacco, Shamanic Tobacco and Aztec Tobacco, this plant has rounded leaves and plentiful, very long lasting clusters of small yellow flowers. It is a favorite wild food source of hummingbirds and an excellent, easy to grow attractant to plant in pots on the deck or patio in place of hummingbird feeders which may contain lethal/toxic spoiled sugar water.
All parts of the plant contain nicotine which is a strong stimulant. The leaves were once worked with medicinally over centuries and were considered a valuable antispasmodic, cathartic, emetic, narcotic and sedative. Though today, people are cautioned against such uses. Leaves were also used externally as a poultice for rheumatism, skin diseases and insect bites. Nicotiana rustica has a powerful presence in the garden and is considered a steward plant. One can make a home-made insecticide by crushing the leaves and soaking them and then spraying affected plants with the mixture. This special Tobacco seems to take on a glow in the evening and under the moonlight and makes a good edition to a silvery moon garden.