Nicotiana sylvestris is a species of the genus Nicotiana, known by the common names woodland tobacco, flowering tobacco, and South American tobacco. It is a perennial plant, native to South America, and is often grown in gardens for its scented flowers. As it is not hardy, in temperate climates it is best grown as a biennial. The scent is strongest at night, so as to attract pollinating moths. The leaves are simple, somewhat sticky, with the blade partially surrounding the stem (clasping petiole). Flowers are produced on many-branched stems. The flowers are tubular, white, borne in large clusters above the foliage. Flowers can be over 7 cm long with a face 2 cm wide. Each flower eventually produces a large quantity of small seeds.
This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The Solanaceae, or nightshades, are an economically important family of flowering plants. The family ranges from annual and perennial herbs to vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs and trees, and includes a number of important agricultural crops, medicinal plants, spices, weeds, and ornamentals. Many members of the family contain potent alkaloids, and some are highly toxic, but many cultures eat nightshades, in some cases as staple foods. The family belongs to the order Solanales, in the asterid group dicotyledons (Magnoliopsida). The Solanaceae consists of approximately 98 genera and some 2,700 species, with a great diversity of habitats, morphology and ecology.
The name Solanaceae derives from the genus Solanum, "the nightshade plant". The etymology of the Latin word is unclear. The name may come from a perceived resemblance of certain solanaceous flowers to the sun and its rays. At least one species of Solanum is known as the "sunberry". Alternatively, the name could originate from the Latin verb solari, meaning "to soothe", presumably referring to the soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species of the family.