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Nicotiana rustica has been used and cultivated in America for a very long time. Other names are 'sacred tobacco', 'mapacho' or 'sjamanic tobacco'. Nicotiana rustica is a very potent plant variety. It is different than the tobacco that is commercially available today (Nicotiana tabacum). The leaves of this variety, that grows in the rainforest, contain up to twenty times more nicotine than common North American varieties.
The plant was used for hundreds of generations and virtually every native American tribe used tobacco; as an offering to the spirits, while planting or gathering foods, for healing and for ceremonies. Most commonly, it is smoked in cigars. In many Indian rituals, ceremonies, and religious observances, Nicotiana rustica was the unifying thread of communication between humans and the spiritual powers. Tobacco also sealed peace treaties between tribes and agreements between individuals. For such a purpose, the chief often kept a special pipe with a long decorated stem, the often referred to "Peace Pipe".
Nicotiana rusticas are beautiful plants, growing to between one and two meters in height depending on the variety and growing conditions. They have huge green leaves and very sweet-scented flowers that range in colour from white to yellow or even white to green.
Tobacco was an important shamanistic tool throughout the Amazon. Used alone for its entheogenic powers, smoked during ayahuasca ceremonies or even added to the brew. The smoke itself was thought to be sacred and purifying, and tobacco was often burned to purify and protect, even if not inhaled.
Nicotiana rustica - usage
Although Nicotiana is native to warm subtropical regions it can easily survive in cooler temperate parts of the world. So, cultivating your own Nicotiana rustica is not that hard. If you collect the seeds from your plant and re-sow them, you can develop a variety more suited to your local climate, within a few years.
It is the best to sow in spring (around March). Let the seeds germinate in a small pot in some soil covered with a bag. Nicotiana seedlings should be transplanted when very small, within a week after germination. If you transplant later, the tap root could become damaged, this will result in very poor and sluggish growth for the life span of the plant.
Replace the young plants to a bigger pot. For best results, they require lots of fertilizer and lots of space for their roots, but they can also successfully grow in 20cm pots (or bigger). After that place them on a sunny and warm spot. The plant will flower in summer and can be harvested in early autumn.
They can be sown in seed trays or if it is warm enough, directly into soil.