Wild tobacco

Native to South America, wild tobacco is a woody shrub with hairy leaves and blue flowers. Wild tobacco is an opportunistic plant that easily out-competes natural vegetation. It is found pastures in coastal Queensland and New South Wales.

Wild tobacco is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Solanum mauritianum

Description

  • Woody shrub up to 4m tall.
  • Trunk is grey-green, up to 15cm in diameter
  • Leaves are lance-shaped, tapered at both ends, up to 30cm long, 10cm wide, yellowish-green above, paler beneath, densely covered with 'felty' hairs, with short, thick stalks and two stipules at leaf base, smell when crushed.
  • Flowers are lavender-blue with yellow stamens, in compact clusters at ends of branches.
  • Fruit are small, round, 10-15mm wide, turn from green to yellow when ripe, each contains 150–200 seeds.
  • Seeds are light brown or yellowish, 1.5-2mm long.

Habitat

  • Found along roadsides, disturbed areas, waterways and waste areas.
  • Tolerates various soils and moderate shade.

Distribution

  • Found in pastures in coastal Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Germinates easily from seed.
  • Flowers autumn-spring.

Affected animals

  • Livestock
  • humans

Impacts

Environmental

  • Out-competes natural vegetation.

Economic

  • Toxic to livestock and humans if eaten in sufficient quantities.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by birds and flying foxes.

Control

Physical control

  • Ringbark tall plants as close to ground as possible.
  • Pull out seedlings in wet season when soil is soft.
  • Some people react to fine hairs from leaves that become airborne when working with this weed. Cover arms and mouth.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Wild tobacco fact sheet (PDF, 831KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Wild tobacco is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information