Nicotiana quadrivalvis is a species of wild tobacco known by the common name Indian tobacco. It is native to the western United States, where it grows in many types of habitat. It is a bushy, sprawling annual herb growing up to two meters in maximum height. The lower leaf blades are up to 15 centimeters long and are borne on short petioles, the upper smaller and sessile on the stem. The inflorescence is an array of several white, greenish, or purple-tinged flowers with tubular throats up to 5 centimeters long. The base of each is enclosed in a ridged calyx of sepals. The flower face may be 5 centimeters wide. The fruit is a capsule up to 2 centimeters in length.
N. quadrivalvis was cultivated by indigenous peoples living on the west coast of North America, in particular southern Oregon and northern California, and along the middle Columbia River. Individually owned plots of tobacco plants were seeded with the previous year's seed capsules, tilled and weeded and fertilized in the fall by mixing in rotten wood after the harvest.
Further north, the Haida, Tlingit and probably Tsimshian cultivated a related but now extinct variety of tobacco in a similar manner. The original seeds must have been acquired from afar, as tobacco was not native to the northern Northwest Coast. Myths reflecting this, describe the supernatural original acquisition of the seeds.
- Deur, Douglas and Turner, Nancy J. Keeping it Living. University of Washington Press, 2005, p. 13.
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