Certainly tobacco has been one of the most significant plants of the last 500 years, in terms of the fascination people have with it (addiction you might call it), and the awful way it has been used by corporations to profit at the expense of abused consumers. Man’s inhumanity to man.
I must confess a fascination though with how it took this place of influence early on. Did Indians chew leaves for strength? The whole idea of smoking it – where did that come from? Our ethnobotanical history intrigues me a great deal. Was the plant itself somehow compelling or spell-binding?
This summer I decided to grow some, as the witnessing of a plant from seed to fruit gives a lot of information, Here are some in my tombstone oak porch planter, where I usually hold the annual Darwin games (wherein some variety of unknown seeds are sown to see which ones emerge the survivor).
It takes what would be called high heat (soil temps >= 70F) for the tiny seeds – I mean tiny seeds, ten times smaller than a poppy seed – to germinate. Once they get started though they do take off. I’ve yet to see anything beyond leafing as yet, the look like lettuce, but I’d like it to flower. It’s another solanaceae – Nicotiniana Tabacum, and I have a long documented interest in this wondrous plant family.
I’ve looked around a little at all the material on the subject, how to cure leaves, how to roll cigars, modern uses (syrup, cocktail garnishes), I have not yet made specific plans for how to use the leaves but I’m delighted with the prospect of starting from the source and seeing what is possible… use them in salads? As with so many things it is not recommended that you try this at home and each use will be well researched before being undertaken. Fun though. More on this as it goes.