Thursday, February 14, 2013

Plant Causes Of Nicotine

The tobacco plant produces far more nicotine than any other plant.

Nicotine is an alkaloid compound that forms the active ingredient in cigarettes and is produced in greatest quantity by plants of the family Solanaceae. Commonly known as the nightshade family, Solanaceae includes the tobacco plant in addition to several edible plants. Many other varieties of plant also contain trace amounts of nicotine.


Nicotiana tabacum, or the tobacco plant, is a member of the nightshade family of plants. Tobacco produces by far the greatest quantity of nicotine of any plant source. The leaves of a typical tobacco plant may contain from 20,000 to 40,000 parts per million of nicotine. The nicotine content of tobacco constitutes about 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent of the plant when measured by dry weight. Close relatives of the common tobacco plant also contain nicotine in their leaves, including Aztec Tobacco (nicotiana rustica) and Tree Tobacco (nicotiana glauca)

Nightshade family

Other members of the nightshade family also produce small quantities of nicotine. Edible members of the nightshade family that contain very low amounts of nicotine include eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. The level of nicotine found in these plants is not considered to present any substantial danger to human consumers.

Trace nicotine producers

Several other plants produce naturally-occuring nicotine in very small amounts. The common horsetail (equisetum arvense) is among the larger producer, containing approximately 0.4 parts per million nicotine throughout the body of the plant. Celery, papaya, jimsonweed, and milkweed are other common species that produce small amounts of nicotine throughout the plant.

Other plants produce nicotine only in the leaves of the plant. Plants with nicotine-bearing leaves include the English walnut, the coca plant, the belladonna, and the corkwood tree. Yet other plants only produce nicotine within their seeds, such as the velvetbean, or in their roots, such as the ashwagandha plant.

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