Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the February 23, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

Fairly regularly as I hiked the arroyo's most isolated reaches, along with endless plastic bottles washed from trash dumps far upstream, I found invasive plants looking in surprisingly good health. One such weed was the scarlet-flowered Lion's Ear, LEONOTIS LEONURUS, and Castorbean, RICINUS COMMUNIS. There was a lot of Tree Tobacco, NICOTIANA GLAUCA, too.

The genus Nicotiana is the same in which the tobacco of cigarette fame is found, so in a sense this is a real tobacco, though the plant doesn't contain nicotine. The species is originally from southern Bolivia and northern Argentina but has vigorously invaded some parts of the US Southwest and other countries -- it's even been found growing wild in North America as far north as Ohio and Maryland. One reason it's invading so many places is that people grow it for its pretty flowers. Here I often see it around people's homes grown as an ornamental, and along streams. You can see it below: