tobacco


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tobacco,

name for any plant of the genus Nicotiana of the Solanaceae family (nightshadenightshade,
common name for the Solanaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and a few trees of warm regions, chiefly tropical America. Many are climbing or creeping types, and rank-smelling foliage is typical of many species.
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 family) and for the product manufactured from the leaf and used in cigars and cigarettescigar and cigarette,
tubular rolls of tobacco designed for smoking. Cigars consist of filler leaves held together by binder leaves and covered with a wrapper leaf, which is rolled spirally around the binder.
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, snuffsnuff,
preparation of pulverized tobacco used by sniffing it into the nostrils, chewing it, or placing it between the gums and the cheek. The blended tobacco from which it is made is often aged for two or three years, fermented at least twice, ground, and usually flavored and
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, and pipe and chewing tobacco. Tobacco plants are also used in plant bioengineering, and some of the 60 species are grown as ornamentals. The chief commercial species, N. tabacum, is believed native to tropical America, like most nicotiananicotiana
, any plant of the genus Nicotiana of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family). Most species are herbs native to tropical America, although there are a few North American species and several others in the S Pacific, Australia and SW Africa.
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 plants, but has been so long cultivated that it is no longer known in the wild. N. rustica, a mild-flavored, fast-burning species, was the tobacco originally raised in Virginia, but it is now grown chiefly in Turkey, India, and Russia. The alkaloid nicotinenicotine,
C10H14N2, poisonous, pale yellow, oily liquid alkaloid with a pungent odor and an acrid taste. It turns brown on exposure to air. Nicotine, a naturally occurring constituent of tobacco, is the active ingredient in tobacco smoke.
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 is the most characteristic constituent of tobacco and is responsible for its addictive nature. The possible harmful effects of the nicotine, tarry compounds, and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke vary with the individual's tolerance (see smokingsmoking,
inhalation and exhalation of the fumes of burning tobacco in cigars and cigarettes and pipes. Some persons draw the smoke into their lungs; others do not. Smoking was probably first practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
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).

Cultivation and Curing

The tobacco plant is a coarse, large-leaved perennial, usually cultivated as an annual, grown from seed in cold frames or hotbeds and then transplanted to the field. Tobacco requires a warm climate and rich, well-drained soil. The plant is susceptible to numerous bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases (e.g., the tobacco mosaic virus) and is attacked by several species of worms, beetles, and moths. The characteristics of many of the named grades depend upon the regional environmental conditions and cultivation techniques. Tobacco leaves are picked as they mature, or they are harvested together with the stalk.

Tobacco leaves are cured, fermented, and aged to develop aroma and reduce the harsh, rank odor and taste of fresh leaves. Fire-curing, dating from pre-Columbian times, is done by drying the leaves in smoke; in air-curing, the leaves are hung in well-ventilated structures; in flue-curing, used for over half the total crop, the leaves are dried by radiant heat from flues or pipes connected to a furnace. The cured tobacco is graded, bunched, and stacked in piles called bulks or in closed containers for active fermentation and aging. Most commercial tobaccos are blends of several types, and flavorings (e.g., maple and other sugars) are often added.

World Production

Tobacco production in the United States reached its peak in 1946 and since the late 1990s has declined by more than half, dropping to around 800 million pounds in 2012. The United States imports some tobacco for special purposes, e.g., Asian cigarette leaf for blending, Puerto Rican tobacco for cigar filler, and cigar-wrapper leaf from Sumatra and Java. In the United States about four fifths of the crop is grown in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. China, India, Brazil, the United States, Indonesia, Malawi, and Argentina are the chief producing countries; Brazil, the United States, and India are the largest tobacco exporting nations.

Early History

The use of tobacco originated among the indigenous inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere in pre-Columbian times. Tobacco was introduced into Spain and Portugal in the mid-16th cent., initially for its supposed virtues as a panacea. It spread to other European countries and then to Asia and Africa, where its use became general in the 17th cent. The first tobacco to reach England was probably a crop harvested in Virginia, where John RolfeRolfe, John
, 1585–1622, English colonist in Virginia. He reached the colony in May, 1610, and introduced (1612) the regular cultivation of tobacco, which became Virginia's staple.
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 experimented with Spanish types of tobacco seed and introduced tobacco as a crop as early as 1612. By 1619 tobacco had become a leading export of Virginia, where it was later used as a basis of currency.

Classification

Tobacco is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Solanales, family Solanaceae.

Bibliography

See R. Jahn, ed., Tobacco Dictionary (1954); J. C. Robert, The Story of Tobacco in America (1967); E. R. Billings, Tobacco (1875, repr. 1973); I. Gately, Tobacco: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World (2002); M. Norton, Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (2008); B. Hahn, Making Tobacco Bright: Creating an American Commodity, 1617–1937 (2011).

tobacco

[tə′bak·ō]
(botany)
Any plant of the genus Nicotinia cultivated for its leaves, which contain 1-3% of the alkaloid nicotine.
The dried leaves of the plant.

tobacco

1. any of numerous solanaceous plants of the genus Nicotiana, having mildly narcotic properties, tapering hairy leaves, and tubular or funnel-shaped fragrant flowers. The species N. tabacum is cultivated as the chief source of commercial tobacco
2. the leaves of certain of these plants dried and prepared for snuff, chewing, or smoking
References in classic literature ?
It was Mauki who supplied the key that opened the padlock on the boat, and it was Mauki who equipped the boat with a dozen Winchesters, an immense amount of ammunition, a case of dynamite with detonators and fuse, and ten cases of tobacco.
Further, his share of the stolen tobacco earned him another year of toil.
Dipping into his tobacco pocket, he thrust a loose handful of sticks into the ancient's hand and shoved the canoe adrift with no thought of how its helpless occupant would ever reach shore.
I pay Seelee, big fella master along Balesuna, one case tobacco catch that fella Arunga.
Hardly had she spoken, than, just as before, there was a red-glowing coal on the top of the tobacco.
Wherefore," old Ebbits said with grave dignity, "there be no one to hunt meat for me in my old age, and I sit hungry by my fire and tell my story to the White Man who has given me grub, and strong tea, and tobacco for my pipe.
When the story was concluded, he rose up very deliberately, brought his chair right in front of Dominicus, and stared him full in the face, puffing out the vilest tobacco smoke the pedlar had ever smelt.
Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws the natural leaf twisted.
Another dive into the frock brought to view some four or five yards of calico print, whose tasteful pattern was rather disfigured by the yellow stains of the tobacco with which it had been brought in contact.
Scenery of the Way-lee-way A substitute for tobacco Sublime scenery of Snake River The garrulous old chief and his cousin A Nez Perce meeting A stolen skin The scapegoat dog Mysterious conferences The little chief His hospitality The captain's account of the United States His healing skill
They regarded the loads of merchandise with wistful eyes, but seeing the "long-beards" so formidable in number, and so well prepared for action, they made no attempt either by open force or sly pilfering to collect their usual toll, but maintained a peaceful demeanor, and were afterwards rewarded for their good conduct with presents of tobacco.
m that fella boy five fathom calico, two ten sticks tobacco.