Sacramental and Medicinal Cacti

Peyote, San Pedro and other
Ethnopharmacological Cactaceae

Written by
Michael S. Smith
Copyright ©2002 by Michael S. Smith

All rights reserved. Not to be printed or copied and distributed for personal, commercial, and/or financial gain, in print or electronically, without the expressed written consent of the author. The present edition is authorized for use only by The Cactus and Succulent Plant Mall at

All correspondence can be directed to: Michael S. Smith at

Cover photo: Trichocereus peruvianus
Michael S. Smith

For my wife, JLS, for her eternal patience.


The following material is for informational and educational purposes only. It regards the ethnobotanical history, botany, and chemistry of a number of Cactaceae species and should not be construed as advocating the use of any of the plants listed herein. The internal use, or simple possession, of some of these plants may lead to legal, physical, or psychological harm.


I would like to sincerely thank all those individuals who have taken the time to assist me in this endeavor by offering their informative knowledge, comments, thoughts, and suggestions; they are many, this is the product. Special thanks are warranted for K. Trout, the author of Trout's Notes and Sacred Cacti, for allowing me to have ready access to Trout's Notes on Cactus Chemistry; By Species, from which all my alkaloid information is gathered. Without his invaluable knowledge and assistance many aspects of this work would be incomplete.

Table of Contents



This manuscript primarily regards the recorded genera and species of cacti considered forms of "peyote" or "híkuri," or variations of these names, among a small number of tribes and people of Mexico. Though peyote and híkuri are often used interchangeably they should not automatically be assumed to be synonymous. Also mentioned are a number of non-peyote Cactaceae and non-Cactaceae peyote species that are ethnobotanically relevant to the discussion of peyote ethnology.

Though many cactus species are known as forms of peyote not all have a recorded history of ethnobotanical use. Some seem to be called peyote in name only while others may have purely medicinal or ceremonial uses. Though Lophophora williamsii is the cactus most associated with the name peyote many others carry this or similar titles. This may be due to use in their own right, or use in combination with, or as replacements for, L. williamsii. The name may also simply be the result of their having some superficial resemblance to L. williamsii, as do Astrophytum asterias,Strombocactus disciformis, and Turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele. This has led to some conjecture that resemblance to L.williamsii alone dictates peyote status, but in some cases the resemblance is not so apparent, as in the many Ariocarpus and Mammillaria species known as peyote. Seeing that many peyote species lack resemblance to L. williamsii it seems plausible that these others have similar uses, whether that is as medicinal or ceremonial agents, narcotics, or hallucinogens.

The fact that some of these cacti have physical features similar to L. williamsii makes it all the more likely Native Americans either through accident or intention experimented with a number of them, and quite likely with a larger number of cacti than presently known. L. williamsii is commonly recognized as a medicinal panacea and it is likely that many of these other peyote species, known and unknown have been used not for their effectiveness as hallucinogens, as is generally believed, but rather for their effectiveness as medicinal agents.

L. williamsii is the only chemically analyzed Cactaceae species, besides a number of South American Trichocereus, whose major psychoactive alkaloid is mescaline. Many peyote species are carriers of powerful tetrahydroisoquinoline and phenethylamine alkaloids, as well as the possibility of other non-alkaloidal chemicals. But it would be inaccurate to assume that the psychological effects of these other peyote species would mimic those of L. williamsii, a species with upwards of 60 distinct alkaloids. With the exception of Aztekium ritterii, Lophophora diffusa, Pelecyphora aselliformis, and Turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele, all of which contain very minimal amounts of mescaline, no other peyote species have been found to contain mescaline. But that is not to say that many other Cactaceae from Mexico or South America do not contain mescaline. Much research needs to be done in regard to the large number of Cactaceae species that populate the western hemisphere, from Canada to Patagonia.

What must be thoroughly considered in regard to the possible psychological effects of these various alkaloids is the religio-magical use of these cacti in traditional North American shamanism. Practitioners of shamanism have been known to employ numerous methods to alter their state of awareness and these would likely be employed in conjunction with the ingestion of these cacti, thereby altering the overall psychological experience. But it may be possible that such cacti were also used in combination with other plants with the direct intention of producing altered states of consciousness that relied purely on chemical action. Such an example might be the internal use of alkaloid containing cacti with "bakána," a Scirpus species known to carry ß-carboline alkaloids. Such a combination could possibly create a drug synergy similar to that of the South American hallucinogenic brew known as "ayahuasca" or "yage."

Though L. williamsii continues to be used by the Cora, Huichol, Seri, and Tarahumara cultures, it is likely that many of the following descriptions of the applications of other peyote species does not continue today. Unfortunately the people most associated with the use of the majority of these species, the Tarahumara of Mexico, are rapidly disappearing through assimilation into contemporary Mexican culture before further ethnological and ethnobotanical studies can be completed. Left largely undocumented is how these species were revered, selected, prepared, or what quantity was used for any given purpose. This makes any contemporary application of these cacti a hazardous affair, one that should not be understated. The hidden powers of many of these plants will go unknown till modern experimenters begin the search again, this time without the help of untold centuries.

(Following this manuscript is a number of selected references, but unfortunately the difficulty of specifically citing each source of informational detail had become too daunting a task to adequately complete. Much of the information runs throughout the literature and at times is repeated with slight alterations, deletions, or mistakes. I myself make a number of unsubstantiated speculations and no doubt present a number of possible inaccuracies. I have made all attempts to use primary sources to make this essay as historically accurate as possible.)

Michael S. Smith

March 8, 2002

The Cactaceae

Ariocarpus agavoides

A. agavoides' first mention in the context of peyote appears to be in a 1979 Economic Botany article by Bruhn & Bruhn where its chemical study is undertaken due to its relationship to established Ariocarpus species known as peyote, and also for its possible chemical similarities to them. Edward F. Anderson, in his Peyote: The Divine Cactus, mentions A. agavoides "at one time or another (having) been called peyote," but fails to give supporting information of its use other than as a food item. It is a questionable peyote species and does not appear to have ethnobotanical use beyond as a food item and glue due to its internal mucilage.

A. agavoides is known to local inhabitants of Tula, Tamaulipas, Mexico, as "magueyitos" (little agaves) and are collected and eaten for their sweet tasting flesh. I have even heard that a goat herder from the same area eats the plants because, in translation, "they make your head feel good." Their overindulgence is also believed to cause dizziness. The tubercles have even been added to salads at the Top of the Cove restaurant in La Jolla, California, due to their being sweet and bitter at the same time.

This species, along with others in the taxon, are becoming endangered in nature due to the encroachments of man and over collecting. Ariocarpus species were once known as Roseocactus and have been a favorite for hybridization.


Ariocarpus fissuratus

A. fissuratus is considered one of the most important híkuri of the Tarahumara, being known as "híkuri sunami," a term signifying its ability to "enchain." It is also known as "peyote cimarrón" (wild peyote), a term indicating its unruly nature. This latter designation may be inaccurate as Bennett & Zingg regard peyote cimarrón as being "small, red, and ineffective" and "not used or even touched, since the abuser may die." Carl Lumholtz, in his classic text on the Tarahumara, Unknown Mexico, doesn't even make mention of such a plant as peyote cimarrón, though he does address híkuri sunami. Ivar Thord-Gray, in his Tarahumara dictionary, makes a clear difference between híkuri cimarrón and híkuri sunami, believing the former is "considered the most dangerous peyote, in fact deadly even to the touch, and is therefore never used," while he regards the latter as being "at least as powerful as híkuri wanamé" (L. williamsii). Híkuri cimarrón has been applied toward only one other Cactaceae, Astrophytum myriostigma, while it has been applied to one species of Compositae (Asteraceae) and two species of Orchidaceae.

Though containing no mescaline, A. fissuratus, as híkuri sunami, is, according to Lumholtz, believed by the Tarahumara to be more powerful than híkuri wanamé and be used in the same manner. That this híkuri is considered at least as, or more powerful than, L. williamsii is rather impressive considering the minimal presence of alkaloids, but such a term as "power" should not immediately be assumed to denote that it is more hallucinogenic than L. williamsii. A. fissuratus, like L. williamsii, is highly valued, both medicinally and ceremonially, and its power could lie far from its ability to alter consciousness. One must also consider the possibility that "power" is simply an abridged translation, by a Victorian era westerner, of a report provided by an aboriginal; a report that likely would have been more thorough in its description were it accurately transcribed.

A. fissuratus is frequently used as a medicinal and pain-killing plant, being placed upon wounds, snakebites, and bruises. It is also known to remedy fevers and ease rheumatic pains. Like L. williamsii, it is a medicinal panacea that is used for all orders of disease. Often A. fissuratus is mixed with water and boiled for a few minutes to be made into a strongly intoxicating drink. It is also chewed or drunk as a stimulant for traditional Tarahumara foot-runners, while others will often carry pieces of this híkuri in their belts for good luck. Again, like in prior reference to "power," the term "stimulant" must be considered from the same perspective; that it is not a central nervous stimulant as understood by western culture. It is much more likely that the value of some híkuri as stimulants in running contests is for their ability to focus the mind on the sacred task at hand by dulling pain and suppressing thirst and appetite. Its use in festivals extended past the mid-20th century and is likely used in some form to this day.

The most mythical aspect reported about A. fissuratus is the belief that it has the ability to cause robbers to be "powerless to steal anything where sunami calls soldiers to its aid." Just how it is used to protect ones property had failed to be recorded, but quite possibly it could have been an idol placed in or around the camp or home, or else may have been prayed to for such purpose. Like other important híkuri, A. fissuratus would likely have been venerated as a god with the power of intercession in human affairs.

I am aware of one modern account of the ingestion of A. fissuratus tea. The report indicates non-hallucinogenic effects with strong narcotic pain killing qualities. More complete chemical studies of this genus may prove productive.

A. fissuratus includes a large number of morphological variations. Which of these may be used among the Tarahumara is apparently unknown. A. bravoanus subspecies hintonii (=A. fissuratus variation hintonii) is reported to be used as an exterior salve for general pains and rheumatism after being soaked in alcohol.

A. fissuratus has been successfully crossed with L. williamsii, creating L. williamsii x A. fissuratus hybrids.

A. fissuratus has been called "chaute" or "chautle," terms that are a corruption of "challote," which itself is a Spanish corruption of "peyote."

N-Methyl-3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine (found in var. fissuratus)

Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus

According to Helia Bravo in her 1937 book, Las Cactaceae de Mexico, A.kotschoubeyanus is known as "pezuna de venado" (cloved hoof of the deer) or "pata de venado" (deer's foot). The plants titles are interesting not only because of the hoofed shaped tubercles of A. kotschoubeyanus, but also due to the relationship of deer symbolism to L. williamsii, the primary peyote cactus.

A. kotschoubeyanus appears to have mistakenly gained a reputation as a peyote species. This may have occurred through the inclusion of the plant in a listing of peyote species compiled by Richard Evans Schultes, the famed Harvard University ethnobotanist who had studied the use of peyote among the people and tribes of the American southwest and Mexico. In his article, Peyote and Plants Confused With It, Schultes indicated that his information regarding A. kotschoubeyanus was drawn from Bravo's work, but Bravo makes no mention of the plants being known as peyote. Schultes also goes on to state that the species is "said to be either narcotic or medicinal," but he offers no accounts of such usage or where such information may have come from. This of course begs the question of who informed Schultes about this and many other peyote plants' status as "either narcotic or medicinal." It is uncertain if Schultes collected his own data or if he simply extrapolated from prior publications to gain his understanding of narcotic or medicinal cactus. This must be kept in mind regarding all of the other plants that Schultes claimed to be narcotic or medicinal peyote species.

The notion that A. kotschoubeyanus is distinctly known as peyote appears to have been sustained through Anderson's listing of it in Peyote: The Divine Cactus as having "at one time or another been called 'peyote,' or the Spanish diminutive 'peyotillo'."

No solid evidence exist that A. kotschoubeyanus was truly considered a peyote by the aboriginal populations, but no doubt its use in a manner similar to known peyote species, for pains and rheumatism, demands its inclusion in any study of the subject. Like other Ariocarpus species, its mucilage is also known as an effective glue.

A. kotschoubeyanus gets its name from Prince Kotschoubey who paid more than their weight in gold for one of three plants originally brought to Europe in the 19th century.


Ariocarpus retusus

The Huichol believe that those who transgress the Huichol ethical code or have not ceremonially purified themselves prior to the collection of peyote (L. williamsii) will be led to "tsuwíri" (A. retusus) by supernatural forces and suffer "terrible psychic agonies." They consider tsuwíri a "false peyote" due to its undesirable effects, claiming it is an evil plant that will drive people mad if ingested, and that can also cause permanent insanity. It is considered akin to "kiéri" (Datura meteloides=D. inoxia), a dangerous deliriant Solanaceae species, due to its initial ability to cause seemingly pleasant visual and auditory hallucinations that later mislead the pilgrim away from the group. He will then travel through many terrifying perils, of poisonous creatures, large beasts, and deep pits, leaving him "scratched, full of blood…tired, worn out." He will find himself with "so many cactus spines, so many thorns everywhere," in his clothes, feet, and hands.

Though many peyote are casually cited in the literature as being "false peyote" it appears that A. retusus is the only one to which this title is accurately applied.

A. retusus is used to treat fevers, and most likely has additional medicinal uses similar to other Ariocarpus species and L. williamsii. Sacred Succulents, an ethnobotanical company specializing in "rare, endangered and beneficial xerophytes," claims that recent findings indicate A. retusus' use by "well trained Huichol shamans" who believe it to be a "powerful ally." They also mention how the local population has popularized the smoking of the tubercles. Anderson also supports a more positive role of A. retusus in Huichol culture, stating that it is "used in the harvest festival and other ceremonies also involving peyote." Anderson does not make any bibliographic reference to his source, as he regularly does, and he may have gained his information from uncited personal communications or direct observation.

"Peyote," "chaute/chautle."


Ariocarpus trigonus

A. trigonus can likely be considered a peyote cactus due to Bravo's indication that it is known as chaute, a corruption of the word peyote.

In addition to those Ariocarpus species already mentioned, A. scapharostrus has also been informally reported by Anderson to be used medicinally.

Armatocereus laetus

Harvard University ethnobotanist Wade Davis reports that this species is used in the same manner as the mescaline containing "San Pedro" cactus, Trichocereus pachanoi, in the areas surrounding Huancabamba, Peru. Little evidence of its ethnobotanical use exists beyond Davis' reports and those of Carlos Ostolaza, the founder and president of the Sociedad Peruana de Cactus y Suculentas. Ostolaza reports that A. laetus is known as "pishcol blanco" and that it "could be used similarly" to T. pachanoi.

A. laetus most likely lacks the ability to produce truly hallucinogenic effect and may simply be a replacement species that has taken on its own ceremonial value. This seems all the more likely as the traditional use of San Pedro is a highly ritualistic affair that is often devoid of psychopharmacological effect. Davis states in Sacred Plants of the San Pedro Cult that a chemical examination of A. laetus would be forthcoming, but results have yet to be published.


Astrophytum asterias

The original citation of A. asterias as peyote comes from The Cactaceae by Britton & Rose where it is said that "Senor Solis says that the plant is known as peyote." Schultes writes that A. asterias is "said to be either narcotic or medicinal," but cites Britton & Rose who do not make such claims, while Bravo simply indicated that the species carries the common name of peyote while mentioning no ethnobotanical use.

Britton & Rose's, Bravo's, and Schultes' comments in his 1937 articles, Peyote and Plants Used in the Peyote Ceremony (April) and Peyote and Plants Confused with It (November), are the only supportive evidence of the peyote classification or ethnobotanical use of A. asterias and all future references to the plant appear to rely on these sources.

A. asterias is one of the most likely candidates as peyote based solely on its physical similarities to L. williamsii.

Astrophytum capricorne

The oldest known citation of A. capricorne as a peyote species comes Schultes' 1937 article, Peyote and Plants Confused With It. Schultes cites Britton & Rose as his source, but The Cactaceae does not regard it as peyote. Like other Astrophytum species, it is claimed by Schultes to have been "said to be either narcotic or medicinal."

It seems that all future references to the species as peyote stem from Schultes, but due to the inaccurate reference to Britton & Rose it may be mistakenly considered peyote. Further support for a possible mistaken reference to A. capricorne as peyote is that Schultes failed to cite it in a list of peyote species in Peyote and Plants Used in the Peyote Ceremony, an article published just seven months before Peyote and Plants Confused With It.

"Biznaga de estropajo" (carrot-like vegetable sponge).

Astrophytum myriostigma

A. myriostigma appears to have gained its original peyote status following the publication of Victor A. Reko's 1929 article Was ist Peyote? which was published in a German parapsychology journal. Unfortunately I have been unable to review Reko's original writings to examine the context in which it is cited as peyote or if it supports ethnobotanical usage.

Both of Schultes' 1937 articles regard A. myriostigma as "either narcotic or medicinal." Bravo's 1937 publication also makes mention of A. myriostigma as a peyote, but fails to give supportive evidence of ethnobotanical use. Bravo lists the species under three different geographically based titles, "peyote cimarrón" in Durango, "mitra" in San Luis Potosí, and "Birrete de Obispo" (bishop's cap) in Coahuila.

Aztekium ritterii

A. ritterii appears to have been first cited as peyote by Blas Pablo Reko in his 1934 article, Das Mexikanische Rauschgift Ololiuqui. Unfortunately I have not had access to Reko's original article to thoroughly examine this species position in the peyote pantheon. Schultes regards it as a species that it is "said to be either narcotic or medicinal."

Like Astrophytum capricorne it is interesting to note that Schultes did not list A. ritterii as peyote in Peyote and Plants Used in the Peyote Ceremony, but did list it in Peyote and Plants Confused with It seven months later even though Reko is cited in both of Schultes articles. Did Schultes overlook Reko's reference to A. ritterii in preparation for the first article but not in the second? Or like A. capricorne was Schultes reference to A. ritterii an error? A simple review of Reko's work by someone who has access to it may answer this question.

All subsequent references to A. ritterii as peyote appear to have their origin with Reko and Schultes. No new information about the species' ethnobotany has been published since 1937, leaving its peyote status dubious.

A. ritterii was considered until recently the only species in the genus (monotypic). A new species, A. hintonii, has recently been described and brought into cultivation. This latter species originates from the same locale as A. ritterii, the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. Another closely related species from Nuevo Leon, Geohintonia mexicana, has also recently been described.

Only trace amounts of mescaline are present in A. ritterii while the two closely related species have yet to undergo chemical analysis.

Glucaric acid
Quinic acid
Carnegiea gigantea

C. gigantea is the well known "saguaro" cactus whose image represents the American Southwest and whose bloom is the state flower of Arizona.

The fruit of C. gigantea is fermented into a beverage that is drank as part of rain making ceremonies in July and August, the beginning of the Pima and Papago Indian new year. The wine is said to have a curing and purifying effect and to be used as a weather and crop control. Resembling port or sherry it contains about 5% alcohol and becomes stronger with age.

C. gigantea is known for its medicinal uses, including the treatment of rheumatism, and has a multitude of utilitarian uses for the fruit, seeds, and stock. Though the stalk of the plant bears large amounts of water its tissue is not used internally due to its bitterness, presumably because of large alkaloid concentrations.

Though rumored to be an indigenous hallucinogen such rumors may be completely unsubstantiated and have their basis in misinterpreted ethnobotanical and chemical data. Schultes, along with Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of the psychoactive nature of lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD), describe the plant as containing "alkaloids capable of psychoactivity." But of the alkaloids tested only gigantine was found to produce effects indicating hallucinogenic reaction, and this was entirely in animal studies. Contradicting reports have been made that it assists with "songs" (dreams), but as the fruits appear to lack alkaloids and produces an alcohol intoxication, it would seem unlikely such "dreams" fit the classical shamanistic definition of spirit flight.

Its fruits are known as "pitahayas."

Gigantine (5-Hydroxycarnegine)
Salsolidine (Norcarnegine)
Glucaric acid
Isocitric acid
Quinic acid

Coryphantha compacta

C. compacta is believed to be the Tarahumara híkuri known as "bakánawa." Bakánawa, like most híkuri, is both respected and feared as a god, and considered to have a soul and human emotions. It has been recorded as both more powerful, and as only second in power, to L. williamsii. To some populations of Tarahumara, particularly those of Guadalupe, it is (was) their primary híkuri, being valued instead of L. williamsii.

It is held that if one keeps bakánawa in their possession exceeding three years it will convert from a good medicine to an evil one that causes insanity, therefore one must sell it or hide it after the third year. Of interest are speculations by Thord-Gray that this belief may have originated through a shaman so "that he might sell more of the plant." It is also believed that by either losing or burning this cactus one can become insane, sick, or even die. In some cases it is considered so "strong" that it can only be touched by the shaman.

C. compacta is a powerful medicinal panacea and is masticated and applied to the body to cure all imaginable ills. It is boiled for use as an internal medicine and the juice is applied externally for lung troubles. A chewed ointment of C. compacta is rubbed on the legs of foot-runners for three days prior to the traditional races and is kept in waiting by the shaman should the runner tire. The plant may also be carried in the runners' belts to make them swift and fearless and to frustrate the evil spells cast by their opponents. It is believed that the runner who offends bakánawa will slow in speed and eventually die.

Many Coryphantha species bear an array of alkaloids, and even though only this one species is substantiated as híkuri, it can be suspected that others also have had sacramental and medicinal value. Anderson regards C. compacta and C. palmeri as synonymous.

"Bakána," "bakánori," "híkuli," "Santa Poli," "wichurí."

Coryphantha elephantidens

A personal correspondent had observed C. elephantidens sold under the title of peyote in a Mexico City market. With a note of caution my acquaintance went on to mention the possibility that many cacti, medicinal or not, are considered peyote to indigenous groups.

Chemical reports, and its being sold in market, are likely indicators of its use in folk medicine.


Coryphantha macromeris

C. macromeris was reported by Schultes & Hofmann in The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens (1980) to be used as a ritual hallucinogen in northern Mexico. Schultes & Hofmann cited Jonathan Ott's Hallucinogenic Plants of North America (1976) as the source of this information, but Ott himself fails to provide details regarding his own sources. Ott simply makes bibliographic reference to his own "unpublished field and laboratory notes" as well as personal communications with Jerry McLaughlin, a well-known author of many cactus alkaloid studies. But it seems likely that McLaughlin's personal communications only provided Ott with information suggesting the unknown "toxicity" of the species. In 1993 Ott, in his voluminous Pharmacotheon, failed to cite himself as the source of information regarding aboriginal use of C. macromeris, instead citing the 1980 publication by Schultes & Hofmann. Such circular referencing lends doubt to the plant's traditional use as a ritual hallucinogen.

As C. macromeris' hallucinogenic reference follows the publication of its alkaloid composition in 1967 it seems likely that a brief period of counterculture experimentation, based upon chemical findings, including macromerine, a "phenethylamine derivative similar in structure to mescaline," lead to the current misunderstanding of the species' ethnobotany.

A more thorough examination of the literature surrounding C. macromeris is needed either to support or discount its past or present aboriginal use. To date it would appear that any reference to native use is unsubstantiated. Anderson clearly states in The Cactus Family (2001) section titled "Ceremonial and Religious Uses of Cacti" that "no indigenous group is known to use this species ceremonially," but he also states in the main section covering the botanical aspects of the plant that "the Tarahumara use Coryphantha macromeris ceremonially." It would seem likely that this latter quote is a simple mistake, but no doubt it may lead to further confusion.

C. macromeris has long held contemporary interest as an "entheogenic" plant, a plant that generates God within, both because of its availability and chemical structure. It had even been referred to by Ott as a sacrament in a hallucinogen based "church" in California, but such a listing should not necessarily suggest it was actively used. It is probable that this church, in an attempt to give this and other plants religious exemption from the laws of the United States, listed the majority of plant reputed to be hallucinogenic as sacraments. Recreational use in the United States has also been suggested, but nothing to date indicates a continued use of the plant beyond a possible experimental phase. K. Trout, the author of Sacred Cacti, states that his own bioassay experience "had been very mild and very strange, with many waves of intense nausea and extremely persistent after effects, such as distorted vision and a very weird feeling of unreality lasting for weeks after its use."

C. macromeris is commonly known as "doñana" or "Doña Ana." It seems likely that these titles stem from Thord-Gray's comments regarding "dona-ra," a cactus in use among the Tarahumara that "unlike most cacti has a fruit which must be cooked before eating." Interestingly C. macromeris has a tough green fruit, unlike the often-eaten fleshy red fruit of related Mammillaria species.

C. macromeris had recently been cited as "mulato" by Christian Rätsch in his Enzyklopädie der Psychoaktiven Pflanzen. But this is likely in error as mulato commonly refers to Epithalantha micromeris, an acknowledged híkuli, and has never historically been used in reference to C. macromeris, a species with dubious ethnopharmacological history.


Coryphantha macromeris var. runyonii

This variation of C. macromeris has been informally mentioned as having ethnobotanical use, but supportive documentation does not appear to exist. Such an assertion may have inaccurately arisen from Schultes & Hofmann's The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens where the alkaloid content of C. macromeris var. runyonii is mentioned alongside the unsubstantiated claims of C. macromeris' hallucinogenic use in northern Mexico.

This variation is smaller and more compact in growth than the standard C. macromeris and has shorter and less dense spination. It is also known as C. runyonii.


Coryphantha palmeri

C. palmeri has been reported to be "used on occasionally as a narcotic plant." Unfortunately no further information regarding ethnobotanical use has been reported under this botanical name, but it may be synonymous with the Tarahumara peyote known as "bakánawa," and described under C. compacta.

Unsaturated triterpenol

Dolichothele longimamma

D. longimamma, better known as Mammillaria longimamma, was originally cited as peyote by Léon Diguet in his 1928 article, Les Cactacées utiles du Mexique. In 1937 Schultes, citing Diguet, regarded D. longimamma as "said to be narcotic or medicinal," but I have yet to review Diguet's article to compare the two authors' positions on the species. Adam Gottlieb, in his academically suspect Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti (1997), stated that "several tribes occasionally use any one of several species of Dolichothele as a peyote-like sacrament," including D. baumii, D. longimamma, D. melaleuca, D. sphaerica, D. surculosa, and D. uberiformis.

With the exception of Diguet's and Schultes' comments on D. longimamma, none of the other species mentioned by Gottlieb are supported as peyote or of having ethnobotanical use. Nor do the existing records appear to mention any of the "several tribes" using Dolichothele species. It is interesting to note that all the species mentioned by Gottlieb had received chemical analysis prior to the first publication of his book in 1977, and to this day remain the only Dolichothele species analyzed. It would appear Gottlieb's statements with regard to the peyote status of all but D. longimamma are based solely upon his extrapolations from, or taking creative license with, the existing chemical studies.

Dolichothele species are often considered to be synonymous with Mammillaria, though there are disputing opinions. Unlike Mammillaria species that bear flowers in a ring around the upper portion of the plant, Dolichothele flowers form directly from the apex.

A somewhat thicker variation named D. uberiformis,M. uberiformis or M. longimamma var. uberiformis is also known and has a slightly different chemical finding than D. longimamma. Both D. sphaerica and D. uberiformis have also been found to have more complex alkaloid makeups than D. longimamma and are very similar in form.

"Peyote," "peyotillo."

N-Methyl-4-methoxy-ß-hydroxyphenethylamine (Longimammine)
6-Hydroxy-2-methyl-tetrahydroisoquinoline (Longimammosine)
8-Hydroxy-2-methyl-tetrahydroisoquinoline (Longimammidine)
6-Methoxy-tetrahydroisoquinoline (Longimammatine)
4,8-Dihydroxy-2-methyl-tetrahydroisoquinoline (Longimammamine)

Echinocactus spp.

The mention by Lumholtz and Schultes of híkuri in the Echinocactus taxon may be partially due to outdated nomenclature; even L. williamsii was once considered an Echinocactus.

Lumholtz had described Echinocactus, along with Mammillaria, as having "high mental qualities," for which a "regular cult is instituted," but in the illustration he included a picture of an Echinocereus. It may be possible Lumholtz was in fact referring to Echinocereus and not Echinocactus, as two Echinocereus have been described as híkuri by Robert A. Bye (1979).

Two specific Echinocactus are questionably cited as peyote.

Echinocactus grandis

Thorns of E. grandis have been found in archeological digs and were reputedly used in the human sacrifices offered by Moctezuma. This species has also been claimed to treat a variety of illnesses.


Echinocactus grusonii

An acquaintances observation of the sale of this species, along with C. elephantidens, in a Mexico City market under the name peyote suggests medicinal usage. E. grusonii is the well-known and commonly cultivated "Golden Barrel" cactus.

Both morphological and DNA analysis suggest E. grusonii is more closely aligned with Ferocactus than with Echinocactus.

Echinocactus visnaga

Schaefer & Furst believe that this barrel cactus may be the Huichol peyote known as "aikutsi." Its juice is mixed with L. williamsii and eaten so as to prevent one from becoming too intoxicated. The tentative identification of E. visnaga as aikutsi was suggested by James Baulm of the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

Echinocereus salm-dyckianus

E. salm-dyckianus, along with E. triglochidiatus, are known as the "híkuri of the sierras" and are used in a manner similar to other peyote cacti though considered less powerful. Their first reference as híkuri comes from Robert A. Bye's 1979 article Hallucinogenic Plants of the Tarahumara.

Lumholtz had not mentioned these plants' status as híkuri, but he did mention that both Mammillaria and Echinocactus had "high mental qualities" and that a "regular cult is instituted" for them. Though no Echinocactus are definitively confirmed as híkuri it seems likely that Lumholtz was referring to Echinocereus as he placed an illustration of an Echinocereus within his discussion of "plant-worship" and "híkuli cults." Often in contemporary literature these two Echinocereus species are singularly listed as having "high mental qualities," but it should be clear that Lumholtz applied these qualities to all species that are used in the híkuli cults.

It is commonly believed that both E. salm-dyckianus and E. triglochidiatus are sung to during collection by the Tarahumara, but such an understanding appears to have its basis in only one recorded observation of both plants being sung to while being pressed for preservation by Robert Bye. It was claimed that such singing was done to prevent the plants from becoming offended by the action, but this should not immediately suggest singing was a common practice when properly collected by the Tarahumara.

Also known as E. scheeri.

"Híkuri," "pitallito," "wichurí."

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

E. triglochidiatus, in addition to its ethnobotanical similarities to E. salm-dyckianus, was once thought to carry a "tryptamine derivative," possibly 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) (Bye 1979). This alkaloid is the source of the hallucinogenic powers of the South American hallucinogens known as "ebena" and "cohoba," and that are made respectively from the bark of a number of Virola species and the seeds of a few Anadenanthera species.

To date, other published chemical studies of E. triglochidiatus have confirmed only N,N-dimethylhistamine. The variations neomexicanus and paucispinus have also been found to contain only this same single alkaloid. K. Trout, the author of Sacred Cacti, has indicated that the means of chemical testing used to support a "tryptamine derivative" can mistakenly read N,N-dimethylhistamine as 5-MeO-DMT.

No tryptamines have been confirmed within the Cactaceae, but two other references to tryptamines in cacti have been made (see Trichocereus terscheckii and T. grandiflorus). Unfortunately this questionable alkaloid information regarding E. triglochidiatus continues to be spread through a number of publications and by a number of ethnobotanical suppliers, possibly as an enticing sales tactic.

"Híkuri," "pitallito," "wichurí."


Epiphyllum sp. unknown

An unidentified species of the tree dwelling genus Epiphyllum is used by the Sharanahua people of the Amazon rain forest within their version of "ayahuasca," the hallucinogenic brew used throughout the Amazon basin. The Sharanahua either add "only one leaf" to the brewing, or else "drink the unboiled juice of the cactus with ayahuasca."

Ayahuasca, also known as "yage," is typically made through the boiling of the N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) containing Psychotria viridis and the ß-carboline containing Banisteriopsis caapi vine. Upon ingestion the ß-carbolines present in B. caapi act as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), allowing the otherwise orally inactive DMT to become a potent psychoactive.

The related Zygocactus truncata (=Epiphyllum truncatum) has been reported to contain an "unknown amine" as well as citric acid. The possible presence of citric acid in this unidentified Epiphyllum species may make it a valuable asset in increasing the natural extraction of alkaloids from ayahuasca ingredients.

Epithelantha micromeris

E. micromeris is credited with great intellectual and moral qualities. This "medicine" is said to give speed to runners, prolong life, and make the eyes large and clear to be able to see sorcerers. Both it, and its fruit, are ingested as a stimulant and protector by traditional Tarahumara foot-runners, but are considered less effective than L. williamsii or A. fissuratus. Its fruits are laid before the altar in ceremonies, and it had continued to play a minor part in Tarahumara festivals well into the 20th century. Similar to terms surrounding A. fissuratus, any words describing the effects of E. micromeris must be viewed as only abbreviated renderings of traditional reports, and should not be interpreted according to a western understanding.

E. micromeris is valued by the Tarahumara as "híkuli mulato," the "dark skinned peyote." Just why it is considered "dark skinned" is not fully fathomed since the plant has very small white spines almost completely hiding a green epidermis. It is likely the name has a much more symbolic rather than literal meaning.

In 1902 Lumholtz stated that "híkuli rosapara" was "a more advanced vegetative stage" of E. micromeris, but he also stated that híkuli mulato and híkuli rosapara looked "quite different" than each other. In 1899 Rose first proposed, as gathered from earlier publications by Lumholtz, that híkuli rosapara was in fact Mamillopsis senilis due to its description by Lumholtz as being "white and spiny" and due to other reports describing the reverence the Indians held for M. senilis (see M. senilis).

E. micromeris is one of two accepted species in the genus while a number of variations exist which are often cited as species. In addition to numerous alkaloids, five triterpenes and one sterol have been reported within E. micromeris.

Its fruit are known as "chilitos."

Epithelanthic acid
Oleanolic acid
Methyl oleanate

Espostoa lanata

This species from Peru's Huancabamba Valley is said by Carlos Ostolaza to go by the title of "pichcol negro" and "could be used similarly" to Trichocereus pachanoi, the San Pedro cactus. Ostolaza had not offered any specific first-hand support for the actual ethnobotanical use of E. lanata, and its possible use may be an assumption taken from its common name among the indigenous population. Like pichcol blanco (Armatocereus laetus), this species may possibly have no psychopharmacological effect and simply be used in highly ritualistic healing ceremonies.

E. lanata has been reported to be alkaloid negative, but E. huanucensis, which is possibly a variant of E. lanata, has been found to contain hordenine, N-methyltyramine, and tyramine.

Often called the "peruvian old man," or "snowball cactus" because of it covering of white hairs.

Gymnocalycium spp.

Twenty-six species of this South American genus have been found to contain mescaline, the highest concentrations being between 0.001% to 0.0001% by fresh weight from G. calochlorum, G. comarapense, G. horridispinum, G. netrelianum, G. riograndense, G. striglianum, G. uebelmannianum, G. valnicekianum, and G. vatteri.

The majority of alkaloid studies have been conducted under the direction of Dr. Roman Štarha at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, using plants cultivated in Europe. It would be interesting to determine if wild plants from South America would produce results similar to plants cultivated in a distinctly foreign environment.

Many Gymnocalycium species bear a striking morphological similarity to Lophophora, as do a small number of Copiapoa and Frailea, other South American taxa. Such similarities are likely only superficial. Representatives of Copiapoa or Frailea have yet to receive chemical study.

A more thorough examination of the medicinal use of cacti in South America should be undertaken in haste. Unfortunately the aboriginal populations of the Andes have been so thoroughly influenced by European culture and religion, even more so than the people of the Sierras of Mexico, that the majority of ancient Andean medicinal knowledge surrounding cacti is forever lost.

Leuchtenbergia principis

This monotypic species from northern and central Mexico was claimed by its describer, Sir William Hooker, to be used medicinally in a number of locations throughout its habitat.

Intergeneric hybridization with both Ferocactus and Thelocactus is suggestive of a close relationship. Both Ferocactus and Thelocactus have shown very weak results in alkaloid studies.

Reported to contain unidentified alkaloids.

Lophophora diffusa

L. diffusa is known only from Querétaro, Mexico, south of the L. williamsii growth range. It has indistinct or absent ribs, uneven and widely spaced areoles on unelevated tubercles, and, according to Anderson, flowers that are "white, sometimes faintly pink or yellowish white."

Though considered a peyote species, there is no ethnobotanical information pointing out any systematic cultural usage either as a sacramental or medicinal plant. Modern accounts of ingestion support the psychopharmacological activity of the species, reporting "clumsiness, confusion, general malaise and prolonged diaphoresis." There have also been descriptions of mental clarity and tranquility along with visual and auditory hallucinations. One anecdotal report mentions "a dreamlike state with very realistic hallucinations without any profoundness or a lifting of spirits" that was compared to a tropane-like delirium, while another report cites a "strongly sedating, enjoyable, and mildly visionary" experience lasting 8 hours.

L. diffusa is one of only two well-accepted species in the genus; the other being L. williamsii. L. diffusa is also known as L. echinata var. diffusa. This is not to be confused with L. echinata or L. williamsii var. echinata, both of which are considered L. williamsii.

Some confusion has arisen due to the use of L. echinata to describe L. diffusa. Léon Croizat originally described L. echinata as coming from Texas and L. echinata var. diffusa as coming from Querétaro. Unfortunately Curt Backeberg was later to give Texas as the locality for L. echinata var. diffusa. Most plants labeled as L. echinata today are clearly L. diffusa.

Pollen studies suggest L. diffusa is much more representative of the ancestors of cacti and has less "evolutionary divergence and specialization" than L. williamsii. Unlike L. williamsii it appears to be self-sterile and unable to receive L. williamsii pollen for fertilization. L. diffusa pollen readily transfers to L. williamsii for hybridization.

Only trace amounts of mescaline have been found in L. diffusa; none in some cases. The primary alkaloid is pellotine, a compound that in its pure form produces only sedation.

"Peyote de Querétaro."

Mescaline (1.2% of total alkaloid content)
Pellotine (86.2% of total alkaloid content)
Glucaric acid
Quinic acid

Lophophora diffusa var. koehresii

This generally accepted L. diffusa variety from San Luis Potosí grows in the southernmost range of L. williamsii and has pink to cream flowers. Unlike the somewhat wider flower petals of L. diffusa and L. williamsii, this variety has unusually thin petals.

Though some support L. diffusa var. koehresii as a variation of L. williamsii due to a number of chemical similarities, the higher ratios of pellotine to mescaline give support for its inclusion in L. diffusa. It may be possible that L. diffusa var. koehresii is an independent species, and intermediary, or a naturally occurring hybrid, but such speculation requires further botanical study.

Synonyms include Lophophora sp. San Luis Potosí, L. sp. Rio Verde, L. viridescens, and L. diffusa subspecies viridescens. Anderson clearly places L. diffusa var. koehresii and all synonyms within L. diffusa without differentiation.

Mescaline (1.32% of total alkaloid content)
Pellotine (88.39% of total alkaloid content)

Lophophora fricii

L. fricii was first collected in 1931, but it was not then given a proper description. It was again cited in 1974 by Dennis Cowper and said to be located in the environs of San Pedro, Coahuila, Mexico. Other reported areas of collection are the immediate environs near Torreon, Viesca, and Las Parras, Coahuila, Mexico.

Dennis Cowper described L. fricii as having a gray-green epidermis, carmine-red flowers, distinct seed characteristics, and a "different" rib structure. It has recently been described as a large stemmed plant, with generally few heads, which grows in the hot flatlands. Photos of the species show a wide variability in rib structure, from very flat and ribbed to largely tuberculate. Naturally occurring populations of L. fricii do not always bear carmine-red flowers. Usually it has the pale pink of the standard L. williamsii and commonly a dark shade of pink.

In 1975, Vlastimil Habermann expanded the botanical description by stating that L. fricii was of a larger size, nearly 40 cm diameter, and has 13 to 21 ribs. Habermann's description of its reaching 40 cm is dubious, especially if this is in regard to a single "button," as approximately 15 cm diameter buttons have been recorded, but none much larger. A 40 cm diameter plant would not at all be distinctive if it was in regard to a multi-headed plant, as some L. williamsii have been known to reach 2 meters (6 feet) in length and include over a hundred distinct heads. Habermann's assertion that L. fricii has 13 to 21 ribs does not support it as an independent species because L. williamsii will also produce similar numbers of ribs.

Alkaloid analysis of L. fricii has shown chemical similarities to L. diffusa even though the two species are divided by some 400 miles and L. fricii grows in the middle of L. williamsii populations. Both L. fricii and L. diffusa bear very similar concentrations of mescaline to pellotine.

The largest support for L. fricii being an independent species exists in Europe. Many in the United States side with it being a selected off-colored flower variant of a somewhat distinctively ribbed L. williamsii from Coahuila, Mexico. Since apparently distinct populations of the plant exist, it seems likely that L. fricii is a genotype of the more common L. williamsii and not as closely related to L. diffusa as chemical results may suggest. But no doubt more thorough botanical examinations should occur so as to eliminate any possibility that it is its own species. L. fricii is most likely synonymous with Lophophora sp. var. Viesca, the latter having nearly identical percentages of mescaline and pellotine as L. fricii and originating from the same environs.

L. fricii may possibly be the Tarahumara "híkuri walula saeliame," "híkuri of great authority," described by Lumholtz and known alternatively as "chiculi hualala saelíami" by Alberto Fric, the plant's namesake, and as "híkuri warura seriame" by Ivar Thord-Gray.

Lumholtz describes híkuri walula saeliame as the greatest of all híkuri and the most rare among the Tarahumara, growing in clusters of from 8 to 12 inches in diameter, resembling "wanamé" (L. williamsii) with many young ones around it. All other híkuri are said to be its servants. Thord-Gray later describes this híkuri as supposedly having buttons up to 12 inches in diameter. It is considered superior while all other híkuri are its servants, and it demands ox instead of goats in sacrificial offerings. Thord-Gray questioned whether or not this is a purely mythical or legendary plant as he had gained varying descriptions in regard to its size, strength, and power.

Mescaline (0.9% and 1.1% of total alkaloid content)
Pellotine (65.2% and 65.5% of total alkaloid content)

Lophophora jourdaniana

The original material used by Habermann to describe L. jourdaniana was collected from an undocumented locality in Mexico and described as having rose-violet or violet-red flowers, persistent spines on young areoles, and having an inability to be fertilized by L. diffusa,L. fricii, or L. williamsii and its varieties. Others have claimed that L. jourdaniana can only be propagated through offshoots, but this has not been found to be the case as seed has been available.

The inability of L. jourdaniana to be fertilized by others in the genus has not withstood scientific rigor as it has been crossed with both L. diffusa and L. williamsii by the Russian botanist Serge Batov. It would appear Habermann himself, for unknown reasons, was unable to successfully hybridize L. jourdaniana.

Technically speaking Habermann's use of the term jourdaniana is botanically invalid as the name had been used a number of times previously, all without adequate description of the plants. Nothing would indicate that Habermann's material is synonymous with any of these previous descriptions. No features, including chemical analysis, would support L. jourdaniana Habermann being considered anything but an odd variant of L.williamsii, or possibly a cultivation hybrid.

Mescaline (31% of total alkaloid content)
Pellotine (17.8% of total alkaloid content)

Lophophora williamsii

Numerous books and articles cover the many aspects of this cactus' history, ethnobotany, botany, and chemistry, the most in-depth being E.F. Anderson's Peyote: The Divine Cactus. It is the most potent of all known mescaline containing cacti and carries upwards of 60 different alkaloids.

A rumor of strychnine being present in the wool-like down (trichomes) arising from the areoles has long been held to be the reason why these "hairs" are removed from the plant prior to ingestion. But no strychnine has ever been found in the plant at all and such a rumor may have arisen from early publications that regarded the active chemicals present in L. williamsii as "strychnine-like."

L. williamsii is the primary peyote cactus and the only such species presently known to be used for hallucinogenic activity in an indigenous cultural setting. It continues to be used in Mexico by the Cora, Huichol, Seri, and Tarahumara and is an integral part of the Native American Church (NAC) of the United States and Canada.

Apparent variations of L. williamsii exist, many of which are listed informally as species themselves, but it is unlikely they will ever gain formal recognition as either variations or distinct species. Locality genotypes and/or phenotypes may exist that may or may not support a reclassification of the genus. L. williamsii is a plant with many variations in growth pattern and flower color, but such variations are not good indicators for taxon reclassification.

Lophophora flowers are most closely related to Ariocarpus,Mammillaria,Obregonia, and Pelecyphora species, and all, with the exception of Mammillaria, are its closest morphological relatives. Aztekium,Echinocactus,Strombocactus,Thelocactus, and Turbinicarpus are also morphologically related and grow within the same range.

Lophophora fruits are similar to those of Obregonia while the seeds are nearly identical to both Ariocarpus and Obregonia.

Cladistic analysis supports Lophophora as coming from the most closely aligned genera Aztekium and Strombocactus. Pollen studies support a relationship between the genera Lophophora,Aztekium, and Strombocactus, while DNA findings suggest Lophophora is most closely related to the monotypic species Obregonia denegrii.

L. williamsii has been successfully fertilized by Ariocarpus fissuratus,Lophophora diffusa,Mammillaria bocasana,M. zeilmanniana,Strombocactus disciformis, and Turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele. There is also suggestion that it has also been successfully fertilized by Astrophytum asterias and Epithelantha micromeris.

Dried specimens of L. williamsii have been found to contain 0.9% to 6.3% mescaline with lower concentrations of pellotine. (Note 1)

"Híkuli wanamé" (superior peyote).

Lophophora williamsii var. caespitosa

L. williamsii var. caespitosa has been used to describe L. williamsii plants that "tiller" (form offshoots) easily, creating dense clumps of "pups" that form a "carpet," but it is doubtful such tillering should dictate a variation classification. Those plants more readily available in cultivation show little glaucescence (bluish/grayish frosting of the epidermis) and are much more susceptible to discoloration from sun exposure. They also bear a number of minute spines on the areoles of newly formed pups and have shorter flower petals, giving the appearance of overall smaller flowers than L. williamsii.

Nothing would indicate that L. williamsii var. caespitosa is a regularly and naturally occurring variation with its own distinct populations. It seems likely that L. williamsii var. caespitosa is a simple cultivar of plants having a higher propensity to tiller readily. Due to some of these features, it has been suggested that L. williamsii var. caespitosa is a hybrid cultivar.

The mescaline to pellotine concentrations in L. williamsii var. caespitosa are similar to L. williamsii even though it is regularly published that its mescaline levels are insignificant. Such differences might have to do with there not being a "standard" to describe the supposed variation. There is suggestion from Serge Batov that an L. williamsii var. caespitosa and an L. williamsii forma caespitosa exist; the former creating a "carpet" of small buttons, and the latter producing a large mother button with a multitude of small pups.

Lophophora williamsii var. decipiens

L. williamsii var. decipiens was originally described by Léon Croizat from a single drawing of a Lophophora in Britton & Rose's The Cactaceae (vol. 3, pl.10, fig. 4). The drawing itself was done from a photo of a plant originating in France that lacked collection data. It was described directly from the drawing as having a distinctly tuberculate growth pattern rather than ribs and as having flowers that extended above the vegetative body of the plant more than L. williamsii.

Croizat himself was uncertain of the creation of new classifications and in fact stated in his original write up on this "variation" that "in proposing varieties, I use the rank in a wholly non-committal sense." The epithet "decipiens" in fact means "misleading" and is used to name plants showing great similarity with another.

Modern reports indicate that plants fitting the above vegetative descriptions come from a location near Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico and grow on the top of the surrounding high rocky peaks. This collection is said to be quite distinct from L. williamsii by having a pronounceable ashy gray color and lacking noticeable rib formations. Instead, it has diamond shaped conical tubercles that are spiral in form, similar to Strombocactus disciformis or many Mammillaria species. The flowers are described as being the standard pale pink color of L. williamsii.

It is not known if the plants from Torreon are synonymous with the L. williamsii var. decipiens described by Croizat.

Serge Batov has described L. williamsii var. decipiens as being able to produce an extremely large number of seeds per fruit, in one case known to have produced 66 seeds, a number similar to some Mammillaria species, but unlike typical L. williamsii. Of interest is that L. williamsii has been successfully crossed with Mammillaria bocasana and M. zeilmanniana. The former producing plants with a distinctly more tuberculate form, the latter producing plants with dark red flowers. Lophophora flowers are very structurally similar to Mammillaria flowers, and an interesting speculation might be that L. williamsii var. decipiens is a natural hybrid between L. williamsii and a Mammillaria species. Others may insist L. williamsii var. decipiens simply continues to carry the occasional tuberculate juvenile form of L. williamsii into full adulthood, similar to some Turbinicarpus, or that it may be a fully independent species.

Formal chemical analysis of L. williamsii var. decipiens' full alkaloid content is lacking, but mescaline and pellotine concentrations are equivalent to L. williamsii. And even though the alkaloids of L. williamii var. decipiens and L. fricii differ, it seems likely that they are very closely related through both location and description. Genetic studies of the Torreon populations may present interesting findings.

Lophophora williamsii var. lutea

This supposed variation of L. williamsii is said to bear distinctly yellow flowers, a yellowish down of trichomes, and to have tubercles unlike the "typical" L. williamsii.

Anderson indicates that there is no independent growth population of L. lutea; therefore, its distinction from L. williamsii is dubious. Yellow flowered L. williamsii have been encountered sporadically in normal populations, but this does not necessarily delineate their status as a variation. Pink flowers with green and brown mid-stripes have also been observed in normal populations of L. williamsii.

L. williamsii var. lutea often appears to be confused with L. diffusa, and in fact plants labeled as L. diffusa var. lutea have been available in Europe, but these would appear to be yellow flowering L. diffusa.

L. williamsii var. lutea is synonymous with the yellow flowered description of L. ziegleri.

Mammillaria spp.

In 1902 Carl Lumholtz wrote that, to the Tarahumara, all species of Mammillaria "have high mental qualities" and that a "regular cult is instituted" for them. They are considered the most important false peyotes and híkuris and are used as visual hallucinogens characterized by brilliant colors and the traveling of great distances during sleep. The top portion of the de-spined plant is considered the most powerful.

It is quite likely many species in the genus are psychoactive. Such activity might arise from non-alkaloidal properties, as no known hallucinogenic alkaloids have been found within Mammillaria. This and other latex-containing Mammillaria species are often sold in the drug stalls of Mexico and are used as popular folk remedies.

The pollen of both M. bocasana and M. zeilmanniana has been used to create successful hybrids with L. williamsii, suggesting a closer relationship between Mammillaria and Lophophora than may have been previously believed. Such hybridization is quite interesting due to the differences in the origin of the flowers; in L. williamsii they form from the areoles, while in Mammillaria they arise from the axils between the tubercles on which the areoles rest.

With such L. williamsii x Mammillaria hybrids it appears always to be the Lophophora that bear fruit even though attempts have been made at pollinating the Mammillaria species with L. williamsii pollen. This may have something to do with the "evolutionary divergence and specialization" of L. williamsii; its possible ability to recognize the less specialized pollen of Mammillaria, while the Mammillaria are unable to recognize the more specialized pollen of L. williamsii.

Mammillaria craigii

Claimed to be similar to other híkuri in effect, this Tarahumara peyote species is split open, occasionally roasted, and the inner tissue is used. Many magical properties are attributed to the plant, including its use to locate witches and wizards through the clearing of vision. It is used medicinally for the relief of earaches, headaches, and deafness. Other uses include its value as a stimulant for runners, but the use of the word "stimulant" is probably not fully accurate (see A. fissuratus). The ingested tissue of the plant is also said to put one quickly into a sleep where one "travels" and experiences brilliant colors. Such wide differences in the effects of the plant, as both a stimulant and a soporific, may possibly be accounted for by the amounts, preparation, or parts of the plant used for a given purpose. Improper collection methods are fearfully viewed and considered dangerous. If one is not prepared for the experience induced by this plants ingestion it can lead insanity.

M. craigii was reported by Bennett & Zingg in 1935 as M. heyderi and therefore much of the information in regard to these two species is the same. Presently M. craigii is better known as M. sonorensis or M. bellisiana.

"Wichurí," "witculíki," "wichuríki," "Peyote de San Pedro."

Mammillaria grahamii

M. grahamii is boiled, slightly cooled, and then placed in the ear by Pima Indians to treat ear troubles. It has been directly cited as being a form of peyote, but it would appear this is fully in reference to M. grahamii var. oliviae.

Mammillaria grahamii var. oliviae

Found on the slopes of Barranca de Batopilas, M. grahamii var. oliviae is considered the true híkuri of the region. Like M. craigii its tissue is eaten, causing a drowsiness where one "travels" and experiences brilliant colors. M. grahamii var. oliviae has the ability to cause insanity and is used in "special ceremonies" that apparently have never been described. Its fruit are also claimed to have the ability to produce psychoactive effects.

M. grahamii var. oliviae is synonymous with M. marneriana, M.oliviae, and M.pseudoalamensis.

Mammillaria heyderi

To quote Bruhn & Bruhn, 1973,

Mammillaria heyderi is a little discussed species, which is reported to be used by the Tarahumara. We first encountered this species in the Tarahumara-English dictionary compiled by the Swedish explorer Ivar Thord-Gray. Discussing sorcery and black magic among the Tarahumara, Thord-Gray reports, that "only the shaman is umeru-ame (powerful) enough to locate wizards and witches. To do this he will make medicine from ball-cactus wichu-ri-ki (M. heyderi), which is greatly feared for its magical powers. This medicine will clear his vision. It matters not how well the suku-ru-ame (wizard, witch) is hidden, the shaman can see him clearly" ...Not only is this cactus useful for locating wizards and supplying food, but it is also used as a medicine to cure or relieve headaches. "After the spines are removed, the plant is cut up into two or more pieces, roasted for a few minutes, and then part of the stuff is pushed into the ear." ...(This) is corroborated by Bennett & Zingg, who describe the same manner of roasting the cactus before "the soft center in pushed into the ear in the case of ear-ache or deafness." Thord-Gray also reports that wichu-ri-ki is an important medicine that will prolong life and "make the foot light and increase the speed of a runner in a race." The Tarahumara name for the cacti listed by Bennett & Zingg is witculíki. Witculíki and wichu-ri-ki are possibly related to wi-chuwa-ka, which means "crazy, demented, mad, insane, etc."

It is quite possible Thord-Gray's comments were in regard to what would today be known as M. craigii (M. sonorensis). There are six subspecies of M. heyderi that are at times listed as independent species.

Known as "biznaga de chilillos," or "híkuli," with the edible red fruits called "chilitos."


Mamillopsis senilis

M. senilis was noted as a "sacred cactus" by E.W. Nelson after his visit to the Sierra Madres in the late 19th century (Rose, 1899). His recognition of its sacred status appears to be drawn from the respect shown the plant and its collection spot by an individual Tarahumara while it was being gathered for botanical documentation. On this occasion the native who was requested to collect the plant was very hesitant to do so, and having accidentally taken up two plants he carefully positioned the unintentionally pulled plant back into the soil. Nelson reports that the "Indians who have had little intercourse with the Mexicans can not be induced to touch one of them."

It seems likely M. senilis, not Epithelantha micromeris, is "híkuli rosapara," a plant o1nce thought by Lumholtz to be a more mature form of the latter species. Lumholtz had wrote that híkuli rosapara was "white and spiny" and was different than the description applied to two other híkuli, E. micromeris (híkuli mulato) and A. fissuratus (híkuli sunami). Híkuli rosapara had also been described by Thord-Gray as being "almost white and somewhat spiny." Such descriptions do not fit the extremely short and weak spines of E. micromeris, but do accurately fit that of M. senilis. Of all the known species affiliated with the name peyote or híkuli, M. senilis is the only one fitting the rather general description of being "white and spiny."

It is believed by the Christian Tarahumara that híkuli rosapara must be touched only by those who have "clean hands" and who are well baptized. It is believed by these Christians that híkuli rosapara is itself a "good Christian…and keeps a sharp eye upon the people around him." Híkuli rosapara, when angered, either "drives the offender mad or throws him down precipices. It is therefore very effective in frightening off bad people, especially robbers and Apaches."

Of common interest are comments by both Lumholtz and Thord-Gray describing a type of híkuli called "ocoyome" or "hi-kuri oko-yo-ame" that, like híkuli rosapara, has "long white spines." Ocoyome is said to "come from the Devil" as a reward to wizards and witches and to be rarely used except for evil purposes. The Tarahumara believe ocoyome is used only by their enemy, the Apache Indians, and shun it, believing that to touch this "powerful medicine" could mean death.

It may be possible both híkuli rosapara and híkuli ocoyome are M. senilis as both have similarities in their physical description. Though there are some very slight differences in their symbolic attributes this should not automatically rule out their being the same plant. Such differences in attributes could possibly be due to a diverse understanding of the same plant by different groups of Tarahumara.

Mamillopsis senilis is synonymous with Mammillaria senilis and is commonly referred to as "Cabeza de viejo" (head of the old). Christian Rätsch is the only author who cites M. senilis as "híkuli dewéame" (peyote cristiano=Christian peyote), but there is no prior support for this title being associated with M. senilis. Bennett & Zingg are apparently the earliest authors to use the title, stating that híkuli dewéame is a "larger green variety" of híkuli that is "considered the most efficacious." Thord-Gray also makes identical mention of peyote cristiano, but with the alternate spelling of "hi-kuri rewe-ame." This híkuli may be a large collection of L. williamsii, possibly synonymous with "híkuri walula saeliame," the "híkuri of great authority," described by Lumholtz, but certainly it may also refer to an unknown plant. What clearly must be stated is that there is nothing in the writings of Rose, Lumholtz, Bennett & Zingg, Thord-Gray, or others, associating híkuli dewéame with M. senilis as Rätsch has done.

Matucana madisoniorum

Carlos Ostolaza states that the late Paul Hutchison, Professor of Botany at University of California, Berkeley, and the discoverer of the species and foremost describer of the taxon, had himself said he was convinced of the species' mescaline content. Joe Clement, curator of the desert collection at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, had also informally mentioned the possibility of mescaline being present in M. madisoniorum.

Michael Martin, whose "mentor" was Paul Hutchison, states that Hutchison tracked down this species in its natural habitat after having seen the dried plants in a Peruvian marketplace. Hutchison was reticent to publish the information out of fear the plant might come under the jurisdiction of United States laws, similar to those applied to Lophophora williamsii. Martin has yet to publish this new and startling ethnobotanical information, and he has not stated clearly if this species was used as a ritualistic hallucinogen or if it is more of a medicinal agent.

The most current rumor of the species' ethnobotanical use comes from Leo Mercado, President of The Peyote Foundation, who recalls Dr. Silviano Camberos Sanchez of Shaman Pharmaceuticals stating that the species was used in combination with the San Pedro cactus, Trichocereus pachanoi, and possibly alone. My own attempts to reach Sanchez for clarification have been unsuccessful. Other rumors suggest M.madisoniorum has a use in religious ceremonies by the local inhabitants.

Though coming from a very limited area in Peru, propagation over the last few years has made the species quite available. A number of variations described by their spination have recently been offered. Though regularly having red flowers, a white-flowered variety is also available.

K. Trout has found an interest in the taxon, suggesting many species may be candidates for study as alkaloid bearing plants. Initial explorations by the famed psychopharmacologist Alexander Shulgin into M. madisoniorums chemical composition have failed to detect alkaloids.

Neoraimondia macrostibas

N. macrostibas is a known ingredient to the inebriating beverage "cimora" of the Peruvian Andes (see Trichocereus pachanoi). It is better known today as N.arequipensis.

The alkaloids of this specific plant are unknown, but the related N. arequipensis var.roseiflora (=N. roseiflora?) carries 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine and 4-Hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Obregonia denegrii

This monotypic cactus may only be known as peyote due to Blas Pablo Reko's comments regarding its chemical and morphological similarities to well known Ariocarpus peyote species (Bruhn & Bruhn 1973). It appears that from this data alone comes the assumption of it being peyote. No ethnobotanical information indicates a cultural history as a hallucinogen or ritually used plant, but Schultes, citing Reko, supports this species as a peyote said to have "either narcotic or medicinal" qualities. Bravo makes no mention of the plant carrying the title of peyote or of it having ethnobotanical use. Though there have been modern claims of O. denegrii being use to treat rheumatism, others have indicated it is "not employed in folk medicine." Anderson states that "apparently it is not used for healing, nor is it involved in any ceremonial function."

Regarding O. denegrii we run into the same concern as for A. ritterii. Why did Schultes overlook the comments regarding both these species for his April, 1937 article, but not his November, 1937 article when Reko is listed in the bibliography of both? Could Schultes have been misinterpreting Reko's comments on O. denegrii while also making assumption on its title and uses? As with A. ritterii a simply review by someone with access to Reko's article may answer these questions.

Rätsch is the only author who applies the name híkuli sunami to O. denegrii. This would seem to be in error as híkuli sunami is historically associated with A. fissuratus and no other cacti.

Extracts of O. denegrii, like many other alkaloid containing cacti, have been proven to have antibiotic activity. DNA studies suggest O. denegrii is quite possibly the closest living relative of Lophophora.

"Peyotillo," "obregona," "obregonita."

Quinic acid

Opuntia spp.

Opuntia species have a large number of uses in traditional Native American medicine, including treatment for cuts and wounds, warts and moles, general aches and pains, earaches, rheumatism, asthma, sore throats, corns, diabetes, constipation and hemorrhoids, as well as numerous other ailments. A poultice is often made of the viscous flesh to be used on bites, burns, abrasions, rashes, etc. O. engelmannii and O.phaeacantha are even used to stimulate lactation.

Some closely related Cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia spp.) are also used in medicine to treat diarrhea, constipation, and gastrointestinal ailments, as well as rheumatism, and other general aches and pains.

Opuntia cylindrica

The high mescaline content reported in O. cylindrica comes from the accepted understanding that the plants tested were actually Trichocereus pachanoi. Alkaloids failed to be detected in measurable amounts in properly identified O. cylindrica.

Six Opuntia species have been found to contain mescaline, the highest amount being 0.01% in dry material of O. acanthocarpa and O. basilaris.

Opuntia leptocaulis

To quote Edward Castetter & Morris E. Opler, 1936,

The small, red fruit of the turkey or coyote cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis), known among the Spanish-Americans as tasajulla and garrambulo, are still used by being crushed and mixed with tulbai. They are reported as having such pronounced narcotic effects that the Indians will not walk close to plants which bear them, and they claim that eating a single fruit will make one "drunk and dizzy."

Daniel Moerman, in his Native American Ethnobotany, also reports that the "narcotic fruits are crushed and mixed with a beverage to produce narcotic effects" by the Apache, Chiricahua, and Mescalero Indians. Contemporary growers of this species have partaken of O. leptocaulis' fruit and have reported no psychoactive effect.

This species is more accurately understood as Cylindropuntia leptocaulis and is a rather fast growing and invasive species that to many is a "weed" cactus.

Opuntia sp. unknown

An unidentified Opuntia species is cultivated for its psychoactive properties and has been used alone or as an ayahuasca additive by the Sharanahua people of South America. Known as "tchia," it is claimed to make the brew "very strong," so strong that its use is believed to have been discontinued.

Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum

P. pecten-aboriginum is a multi-purpose plant employed by the Tarahumara. The juice of the branches is used to make a ceremonial beverage that causes a quick "híkuri-like" intoxication typified by dizziness and the production of visions. It is also used to increase the strength of corn beer. P. pecten-aboriginum has many medicinal purposes, such as a laxative and treatment for pain. It is also believed to cure cancer.

The related P. weberi contains upwards of 30 different alkaloids and may quite possibly have had similar ethnobotanical uses.

"Bitaya mawalí," "etcho," "cardillo," "cardón," "cawé," "chawi-ro-ko," "chawé," "chik," "hecho," "Indian's comb," "wichowaka" (insanity).

Quinic acid

Pachycereus pringlei

P. pringlei is an important economic, medicinal, and food source plant. Like P.pecten-aboriginum it is said to be a cure for cancer and is rumored to have inebriating flesh.

"Cardón," "senita."

Glucaric acid
Isocitric acid

Pelecyphora aselliformis

P. aselliformis is a well known medicinal peyote sold in the markets of San Luís Potosí, Mexico, and is used as a remedy for fevers and rheumatic pains. Extracts have also been shown to have antibiotic activity.

It was first described as a peyote by Britton & Rose who state that "it is said by the Mexicans to possess medicinal properties." Schultes, citing Britton & Rose, regards P.aselliformis as a plant "said to be either narcotic or medicinal." William Emboden, the author of Narcotic Plants, is the only one who has claims to have witnessed the efficacy of this plant as a "psychomimetic," a plant that mimics psychosis. Unfortunately Emboden fails to describe any particulars of the intoxication. Anderson regards it as "unclear if it was ever used ceremonially."

Mescaline levels are minimal, and it can be assumed other alkaloids, or non-alkaloidal properties, account for the plant's reputed psychoactivity.

Once rare in cultivation this very slow growing species can often be found grafted. P.strobiliformis (=Encephalocarpus strobiliformis) has also been informally mentioned as being a medicinal peyote species.

"Peote," "peyotillo," "peotillo," "peyote meco," "piote," "hatchet cactus."

Mescaline (less than .00002% - dry weight)
Quinic acid

Pelecyphora pseudopectinata

P. pseudopectinata is considered peyote by the natives of Tamaulipas, Mexico, but is not generally regarded as such. It lacks a close botanical relation to P. aselliformis and is considered synonymous with Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus. It may also be found as Normanbokea pseudopectinata.

Selenicereus grandiflorus

S. grandiflorus is cultivated in South America for use in homeopathic medicines designed to improve blood circulation and has a reputation as a herbal cardiotonic. Such benefit may come from the presence of Digitalis-like glycosides within the plant.

It has been anecdotally reported to be used alone for psychoactive effect and as an active addition to the San Pedro brew made from Trichocereus pachanoi by both curanderos (shamans) in Peru and contemporary western users. Such reports of its native use in Peru are without documented substantiation.

S. grandiflorus is well known for its sweet scented white nocturnal-blooming flowers that can reach upwards of 12" in diameter. These flowers lend the plant its title as the "Queen of the Night."

Solisia pectinata

The classification of S. pectinata as a peyotillo may have been due to Diguet's initial misidentification of it as a Pelecyphora species, the genus containing P. aselliformis, a recognized peyote that it closely resembles (Bruhn & Bruhn 1973). There is no recorded history of aboriginal use even though Schultes states that it is "said to be either narcotic or medicinal." As Schultes cites Diguet and Diguet does not refer to any usage of the species it would appear that Schultes comments may be in error. Anderson states that "though sometimes called peyote, there is little evidence for the ceremonial use or psychoactive properties of the cactus."

S. pectinata has become better known as Mammillaria pectinifera and is a much sought-after plant by collectors.

"Cochinito" (little pig).


Strombocactus disciformis

S. disciformis is a well known peyote species first mentioned by Britton & Rose and "said to be either narcotic or medicinal" by Schultes. Bravo also lists it is a peyote, but does not make any comments regarding ethnobotanical use. Anderson believes it is "mistakenly called peyote or peyotillo."

This variety of peyote is one of the most interesting species of cacti, and along with certain Turbinicarpus, has a close resemblance to L. williamsii. S. disciformis has been successfully crossed with L. williamsii, creating offspring that retain the form of pure-breed L. williamsii with the possibility of a "slightly altered pistil." Its full chemical analysis and subsequent publication is long overdue, but Shulgin reports that it has shown positive for alkaloids.

Isocitric acid

Trichocereus bridgesii

T. bridgesii was first described as a hallucinogen by Wade Davis, a student of Schultes, in a Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflet in 1983.

Wade Davis' book, One River, also makes mention of this plant's use among the indigenous populations of Bolivia under the title "achuma." Rätsch also supports its use in Bolivia, both traditionally, and by the youth of La Paz as a recreational drug.

Three different varieties of the species are said to exist; var. brevispinus, var.longispinus, and var. langeniformis. The first and second variations may simply indicate short and long spines respectively; while the last variation may simply be appended to T. bridgesii due to present nomenclature. T. bridgesii, under the newest nomenclature, is known as Echinopsis langeniformis, but this not to be confused with Echinopsis bridgesii, a distinctly different species.

Two different monstrose forms can also be found in cultivation. There appears to be a large number of plants available that, though looking similar to the classical T. bridgesii, bear slight differences in their growth habits and spination. These may be different species or variants on the classical T.bridgesii.

Mescaline (over 25 mg per 100 grams of fresh plant)
Bridgesigenin A
Bridgesigenin B

Trichocereus grandiflorus

Though T. grandiflorus is not known as a traditional hallucinogen, this short columnar species has gained interest due to Shulgin's unpublished chemical analysis, which indicated the presence of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the powerful hallucinogenic drug contained in numerous plants known for their historical use throughout South America.

Upon the reanalysis of T. grandiflorus Shulgin was unable to confirm the presence of DMT and had some concern as to whether or not the same plant material was used for the confirmation. Shulgin's belief was that he used the red-flowering variety originally and the yellow-flowering variety afterwards, but there had also been concern about the use of contaminated laboratory equipment.

Contemporary human bioassay has strongly suggested the presence of mescaline, at least in the white-flowered variety.

Several flower colors exist, including white, yellow, and red. The white-flowered species is nocturnal-blooming and is known as Trichocereus grandiflorus, while the red-flowered day-bloomer is better known as Helianthocereus grandiflorus. Both are in their own distinct taxa, but are closely related. A yellow-flowered day-blooming variety is also known to exist, but it may simply be an "affinity" species that may not in fact be T.grandiflorus. The red- and white-flowering T. lobivioides "grandiflorus" appear to be synonymous with H. grandiflorus and T. grandiflorus respectively. Claritive identification of the variations and their proper taxon classification is necessary.

Often this species is referred to as Lobivia. Of the very few Helianthocereus and Lobivia species tested for alkaloids, none have been found to contain mescaline.

Trichocereus pachanoi

Though best known as "San Pedro," T. pachanoi has numerous local titles. Its history dates back to at least 1300 b.c.e., and ceramics and textiles suggest it was well known during the Chavín, Chimú, Nasca, Salinar, and Moche periods. Its present day use by curanderos in healing ceremonies in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador has become altered by the integration of Catholic themes with long standing indigenous beliefs.

T. pachanoi is reputedly made into the hallucinogenic beverage "cimora" in Huancabamba, Peru, and is used by curanderos for divination, the diagnosis of disease, and to "make oneself owner of another's identity." Cimora may include the cactus Neoraimondia macrostibas,Iresine spp., Brugmansia spp., Datura spp., Pedilanthus tithymaloides, and Isotoma longiflora. Though the San Pedro ceremony usually contains other plants, cimora should not immediately be assumed to contain T. pachanoi. The most recognized additives to San Pedro and/or cimora include the tropane containing Brugmansia and Datura species, but these appear to be used only for especially difficult cases needing further divination, and are usually taken only by the curandero.

An additional aspect of the ceremonies of Huancabamba is the use of "hornamo," a purgative herb. Hornamo is said to purify the participants, possibly through vomiting. Though most affiliated with Valeriana species, there exists a lengthy list of plants with some form of hornamo used in their vernacular titles. All such herbs are reputedly prepared separate from T. pachanoi, but this may not always be the case.

Nicotiana species are also commonly included within the San Pedro ceremonies, often as a liquid extract that is nasally ingested prior to the drinking of the San Pedro tea. There has been some suggestion that San Pedro is also used through nasal ingestion, but this route of administration may have its source in the Arts & Entertainment Television broadcast of the program, Ancient Mysteries: Ancient Altered States. During this program the ingestion of San Pedro was discussed alongside video of participants nasally ingesting a liquid. It appears the narration mistakenly represented this liquid as San Pedro while failing to discuss the standard oral ingestion of T. pachanoi and the well known nasal use of Nicotiana. If San Pedro is used at all by this method, then most likely it is only a ritualistic act. The volume of mescaline in such a tea would not be concentrated enough so as to prevent the participant from having to nasally ingest a truly prohibitive amount. But of course if one considers the San Pedro ceremony as a purely ritualistic act, as often appears to be the case, then the nasal ingestion of a light concentration of San Pedro tea would not be out of the question.

Generally, westerners who have participated in the San Pedro ceremonies of Huancabamba, Peru, rarely feel the full psychoactive potential of the mescaline present in T. pachanoi. This is often a simple matter of dosage, something the curandero holds sway over as much as the Roman Catholic priest does of the Eucharist (Wade 1983). And like the taking of the Eucharist, the ingestion of San Pedro has largely become a ceremonial act in which the ritual performed plays a larger part in the healing than does direct access to the spiritual otherworld.

Due to such ceremonial and ritualistic use of the species, it may be possible that Armatocereus laetus and Espostoa lanata, other cacti reputedly used by similar means as T. pachanoi in Huancabamba, Peru, may not have psychopharmacological effect.

Trichocereus bridgesii, T. macrogonus, T. pachanoi, and T. peruvianus are all closely related, some even believing they are variations of a single species. Some might even include a number of other Trichocereus in this "sliding scale." Flower and fruit similarities suggest to some that T. pachanoi and T. peruvianus are mere variations of a single species, but there is still disagreement on the subject. It has even been suggested that T. pachanoi is a cultivar of either T. bridgesii or T. peruvianus, but it continues to be the general belief that all are their own independent species even though apparent intermediary plants exist. It seems likely that such intermediary plants are the result of the importation of T. pachanoi into other areas due to its long standing enthnopharmacological value. T. pachanoi is most likely a selectively propagated species and not a selected strain of T. bridgesii or T. peruvianus.

T. pachanoi is by far one of the best grafting stocks and is often the base stock seen in photographs within numerous publications. Rib number is quite variable, usually ranging from 5 to 8. Occasionally the sacred 4 ribbed "Cactus of the Four Winds" can be observed, but 4 ribbed growth is an anomaly as the addition and subtraction of ribs during growth is quite common. The standard diameter of the species is 4," and though 8" specimens have been observed this is probably only in regard to old base material supporting large, multi-branching, plants. T. pachanoi is considered largely self-sterile and therefore it appears necessary to use different genetic stock for seed production. Much of the stock available in the US market is of a single clone introduced by Curt Backeberg, but T. pachanoi "North Peru" and "Ecuador" have been introduced into the United States market, and it will be interesting to see their variation from the Backeberg clone. Presently these two variations appear to be much more similar to T. peruvianus.

T. pachanoi can form crested plants with an elongated "fan-like" apex or monstrose specimens that have irregular growth due to the fasciation or fusing of tissue. There also appears to be a "minima/prolifera" form of T. pachanoi that has smaller growth while tillering profusely. It is my personal belief that all of these irregular forms might be more properly classified as "short spined" T. peruvianus, a plant often confused with T.pachanoi, but which may be an undescribed species. As with most cacti, variegated T.pachanoi seem to be quite rare. Recently a number of interesting T. pachanoi hybrids have been developed, particularly by Sacred Succulents.

The use of T. pachanoi as a replacement sacrament, or in grafting, by members of the Native American Church (NAC) could help preserve the natural populations of L.williamsii in the United States, but such propagation techniques are not presently accepted by the NAC.

"Achuma," "aguacolla," "cardon," "cimarrón," "cimora blanca," "cuchuma," "gigantón," "huachuma," "huachumo," "huando hermoso," "San Pedrillo," "símora." (Note 2)

Mescaline (over 25 mg per 100 grams of fresh plant)

Trichocereus pasacana

Archeological excavations suggest the fruits of T. pasacana have an ancient history, possibly as a food item and medicine. The flowers and fruit are also burned to ashes and included within "llipta" preparations, the lime-based mixture made to expedite the oral absorption of the coca alkaloids of Erythroxylum species.

According to Rätsch two additional "cardón santos" (holy cactus) known as San Pedro, T. tarijensis (T. poco) and T. terscheckii, also have been used in llipta. Such llipta inclusions are claimed not only to improve the taste of coca, but also to increase its strength. The closely related T. atacamensis, which is possibly a thicker and slightly different form of T. pasacana, and is sometimes considered one of its varieties, is said to have stimulating properties and have uses in llipta preparations.

T. pasacana is also known as Helianthocereus pasacana and Echinopsis pasacana. Anderson supports the classification of T. pasacana as E. atacamensis subspecies pasacana.


Trichocereus peruvianus

Carlos Ostolaza, one of the foremost authorities on the cacti of Peru, supports T.peruvianus' classification as the sacred cactus "San Pedro Macho." Considering the findings regarding the native use of T. bridgesii, such a classification should not be difficult to believe. It seems likely that, like the peyote culture of Mexico, the aboriginal peoples of the Andes Mountains experimented with, and actively used, a larger number of Cactaceous species than presently understood.

Though generally accepted as an independent species there still is taxonomic confusion regarding its relation to T. pachanoi and T. macrogonus. Proper identification of the species has proven difficult as many plants with differing characteristics are sold as T. peruvianus. Most often it appears to be confused with T. macrogonus.

It is quite likely that many misidentified plants are being sold as T. peruvianus, but it must also be noted that intermediary plants, locality variations, and hybrids are probable both in cultivation and in nature, and that this may affect proper identification. Also of concern in the proper identification of this and other Trichocereus species is the effect that different growing environments have on outward morphology and spination characteristics, particularly in cultivation.

A few different T. peruvianus are available, the most widely known being the KK242 locality type from Matucana, Peru. Also available is the "small spine" variety from Huancabamba, Peru (see T. Peruvianus, short spine). Many more locality types and forms similar to the KK242 appear to exist, the majority of them having been collected by Karel Knize of Peru, and most of which show very little variation from each other. Inquiries regarding Karel Knize have produced negative responses with regard to his seed identification and quality, his proper identification of species, and his independent naming of plants. Some of these lesser known T. peruvianus, all of which may not have their source in Karel Knize, include the KK242, KK338, forma ancash, forma cuzcoensis, blue form, tarma, pamacoche, No. 427, as well as others.

A single known study using dried material of the T. peruvianus KK242 locality type was found to contain 0.817% mescaline, nearly as high as the lowest tested dried L.williamsii (0.9% to 6.3%). Of interest is that dried T. pachanoi has tested as high as 2.0%, more than twice as high as the .817% recovery from the single analysis of T.peruvianus KK242. These findings in essence should sweep away the rumors of this species' value as a modern entheogen more "potent" than T. pachanoi. A small number of additional tests failed to list alkaloids at all from T.peruvianus, but this may be due to improper identification, methods of chemical analysis, factors affecting alkaloid composition, or the use of plants besides the KK242. T. peruvianus has been found through contemporary human bioassay to be subjectively higher in mescaline concentrations than most T. pachanoi, but this should obviously in no way mean this is regularly the case.

Adam Gottlieb, in his widely read, Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti, states that T.peruvianus contains ten times the mescaline of T. pachanoi, approximate to that of L.williamsii. This information is inaccurate, and though possibly not having its origin in Gottlieb himself has unfortunately been the source of much confusion and innuendo. Peter Stafford's Psychedelics Encyclopedia continues to spread the misleading information by stating T. peruvianus contains "about equal" concentrations of mescaline as L. williamsii and that such species as T.bridgesii, T.macrogonus, and T. pachanoi contain "less than a tenth" of the mescaline of L. williamsii. Stafford's statements are true in so far as a single analysis of T. peruvianus showed that it contained "about equal" amounts of mescaline as the lowest tested L.williamsii.

One of the most interesting, but unverified, variations of the species is the little known T. peruvianus var. trujilloensis offered in the past by the small ethnobotanical company "...of the jungle" (OTJ). This odd plant has a much more tuberculate growth pattern than the standard T. peruvianus and should not immediately be assumed to be T. peruvianus. One source states that this variation may in fact be one of two forms of Rauhocereus riosaniensis coming from near the city of Trujillo in northern Peru. No doubt reports regarding flower characteristics should help clarify this matter. T. peruvianus var. trujilloensis has yet to my knowledge to be confirmed as a mescaline carrier.

Also offered by OTJ in the past was a Trichocereus species "Juul's Giant" x T.peruvianus hybrid. At that time the Juul's Giant was considered to be a form of T.pachanoi by OTJ, but presently the Juul's Giant appears to be a completely distinct species from T.pachanoi.

Also known as Echinopsis peruviana.
Mescaline (0.817% - dry weight)
2-Chloro-mescaline (extract artifact?)

Trichocereus peruvianus (short spine)

At first sight the short spined T. peruvianus can easily be mistaken for T. pachanoi, but there are obvious differences that can help others recognize if they have this plant in their collection. It is likely that this plant is commonly mislabeled as T. pachanoi, but it does appear to have many more morphology similarities to T. peruvianus than to T. pachanoi.

The short spined T. peruvianus reaches a diameter of 4-5" when grown in the southern U.S., exceeding that of T. pachanoi grown under identical conditions. It has one to seven reddish-brown spines up to 7 mm in length that fade to tan with age and are slightly finer than those on T. pachanoi. The reddish portion of the spine is most noticeable at the spine base. Though bearing up to seven spines per areole, three are typically the most visible, the longest being the bottom-most spine. I have noticed that on occasion this longer spine is the only one present on the older sections of the plant; the shorter ones having fallen off while the new growth continues to produce three to seven spines.

The areoles are similar in size to T. pachanoi, sometimes smaller, and are slightly off-white in color and not at all woolly. This is quite unlike the large brown wooly areoles typical reported of the standard T. peruvianus. The areoles of the short spined T. peruvianus appear to be somewhat vertically closer than those on T. pachanoi and have a noticeable V-notch or mark above them that can become horizontal if the stock is full and stretched.

The external bluish frosting (glaucescence) is minimal, being less than T. pachanoi or T. peruvianus, and is most persistent on the new growth. The outer flesh has a waxy smooth texture with a dark green color while the inner meat lacks the viscous nature of T. pachanoi.

While often becoming a towering columnar, the limbs are weaker than T. pachanoi and have a tendency to break under stress due to a weak central vascular bundle or core. This is somewhat similar to the standard T. peruvianus that can become slightly decumbent due to a weak core.

Growth rates of the short spined T. peruvianus are identical, if not slightly quicker, than T. pachanoi, while growth rates of the standard T. peruvianus are somewhat slower than T. pachanoi. In many cases it appears the short spined T. peruvianus is the only form of T. peruvianus recognized by some cultivators. This may account for some of the rumors claiming T. peruvianus grows quicker than T. pachanoi.

It does not appear that the short spined T. peruvianus has received any formal botanical documentation or description. A close examination of its flowers may prove the defining factor in determining whether or not it is a form of T. pachanoi, T.peruvianus, a hybrid, or an independent and undescribed species.

Mesa Garden of Belen, New Mexico, has carried seed of T. peruvianus "small spine" from Huancabamba, Peru. It will be interesting to see how this plant develops over time as presently the growth characteristics of the T. peruvianus "small spine" and the short spined T. peruvianus indicate that these two plants are in fact the same species.

There is a monstrose form of the commonly available short spined T. peruvianus that alternates from normal to monstrose growth. Seasonal and stressing factors seem to account for the changing of the plant back and forth between normal and monstrose growth.

Due to spine and areole characteristics, I personally believe some of the commonly available crested, monstrose, and minima/prolifera forms of T. pachanoi may rather be such forms of the short spined T. peruvianus.

Mescaline (confirmed through human bioassay)

Trichocereus scopulicola

T. scopulicola was described by Friedrich Ritter as coming from Tapecua, Bolivia at an elevation of 1000-1500 meters. Apparently a herbarium deposit was never made, leaving room for taxonomic confusion. Though looking somewhat similar to T. pachanoi, its morphological features set it apart as a quite distinct species, and possibly apart from the T. pachanoi-like group of Trichocereus.

This columnar plant has 4 to 6 ribs, small white areoles with 7 to 9 incredibly minute tan spines that may not be present in adulthood, a rough skin texture, a dull finish (matte), a dark green color without glaucescence, and fragrant flowers.

A very nice picture of Echinopsis scopulicola in bloom can be seen on page 70 in the widely available book by Terry Hewitt, The Complete Book of Cacti and Succulents. Other photos can be seen on pages 39 and 159.

My own specimens of Ritter's T. scopulicola FR991 are slightly different from those in the published pictures, having fewer and longer spines.

A number of other plants similar in morphology to T. scopulicola exist and deserve further inquiry regarding their formal botanical classification and chemistry. T.scopulicola has not undergone formal chemical studies, but human bioassay suggests mescaline concentrations equivalent to T. pachanoi.

Also referred to under the name T. scopulicolus and commonly known as Echinopsis scopulicola.

Trichocereus sp. "Juul's Giant"

The Juul's (aka, Jewel's, Jull's, Jules') Giant is named in honor of the late Tom Juul who was affiliated with the Huntington Botanical Gardens and had passed clippings of this plant from his private collection to a commercial grower. It also appears the plant had been brought into US cultivation through at least one other source.

It can bear 0 to 6 spines, the longest, which is the lowermost on the areole, able to reach 3/4" long though generally much shorter. Like the short spined T. peruvianus, they are somewhat finer than those on T. pachanoi. Other features similar to the short spined T. peruvianus are the thin central vascular core and the light glaucescence of the skin. In the past these features had mistakenly led me to believe that the Juul's Giant was fully synonymous with the short spined T. peruvianus.

Populations of the species may continue to grow in Arequipa, Peru, even though this may not be its natural range. It also has been seen growing outside a museum in Lima, Peru.

Unlike T. pachanoi, which it generally resembles, this apparently unreferenced or herbarium deposited species does not appear to be self-sterile.

Hybrid Juul's Giant x T. peruvianus and Juul's Giant x T. pachanoi have been offered in the past by "...of the jungle," while Sacred Succulents has offered both T. pachanoi x Juul's Giant and Juul's Giant x T. pachanoi hybrids as well as a T. terscheckii x Juul's Giant.

Mescaline has been shown to be present in the Juul's Giant through human bioassay, but with variable results. Mescaline can also be assumed to be in the hybrid species, but I am at present unaware of any hybrid bioassay reports.

Trichocereus sp. unknown

In 1983 Wade Davis wrote in the Harvard Botanical Leaflets about a particular "clone" of T. pachanoi growing outside of Huancabamba, Peru. Covering a fourth of an acre it was left unmolested by the curanderos due to the mythology surrounding it; this even though considered by curanderos to be one of the most potent of plants.

It is believed a spirit guardian in the form of a large serpent lives at the center of the stand and inflicts a plague upon all those who enter. The basis of this myth resides in a bacillus (Bartonnella bacilliformis) known only from Peru and causing Clarion's disease, a "temporary eruption of wart-like excrescences, mainly on the face but often covering much of the body."

Davis states that the plant towers 45' tall and fallen sections measure 14.5" in diameter (voucher, herbarium specimen, Davis 760, Harvard University). Such size greatly exceeds even the largest T. pachanoi that have been recorded to reach upwards of 8" in diameter. Davis unfortunately fails to give any further description.

Reports about the continued growth of this plant, and a more detailed description of its morphological features and flower characteristics, are needed. Unfortunately there is no confirmatory evidence of this T. pachanoi clone's continued presence in Huancabamba, Peru. It can only be hoped that this plant still exists so the commonly cultivated short spined T. peruvianus and Mesa Garden's T. peruvianus "small spine" from Huancabamba can be compared against it.

Mescaline (highly suspected)

Trichocereus terscheckii

Christian Rätsch claims T. terscheckii is a "cardón santos" (holy cactus) known as San Pedro. It is used in llipta preparations to make the coca both taste better and have increased strength.

T. terscheckii is closely related to T. pasacana, but there is little indication that either species has had historical use similar to T. pachanoi. The only information supporting the "entheogenic" use of Tr. terscheckii comes from a Sacred Succulents mail order catalog where "unconfirmed reports of indigenous people utilizing this plant as an entheogen" are mentioned.

Rumors have existed about N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) being a product of T.terscheckii since the 1979 publication of Schultes & Hofmann's Plants of the Gods. No bibliographic references for such a finding were mentioned, but a review of the prior literature indicates the presence of N,N-dimethylmescaline.

Schultes & Hofmann's 1973 publication, The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens, does properly mention N,N-dimethylmescaline's presence in T. terscheckii, but the 1980 edition of the same publication deletes all mention of T. terscheckii or its alkaloids. It appears the 1979 printing of Plants of the Gods, and also the second edition of 1992, was mistaken, and that a typographical error resulted in the inaccuracy.

In my personal opinion Plants of the Gods is a "coffee table book" designed sell as many copies as possible. It has many inaccuracies and fails to clarify the differences between many plants and their local name and uses, particularly among the Cactaceae. It also lacks the rigorous academic research and clarity generally present in both authors' individual and combined works, leading me to the belief that it is written by an unknown "ghost" author.

The value of T. terscheckii as a psychoactive agent has been proven through contemporary human bioassay. It has recently been crossed with the Juul's Giant to create a T. terscheckii x Juul's Giant hybrid.

Mescaline (5 mg to 25 mg or more per 100 grams of fresh plant)
N,N-Dimethylmescaline (Trichocereine)

Trichocereus validus

T. validus was found to have a rich alkaloid content, over 50% of which is mescaline. Some confusion exists over which plant was used for the alkaloid study; that described by Curt Backeberg, becoming tree-like with stout columns and white flowers, or the commonly sold clumper with red flowers.

It would seem probable that the white-flowered columnar species described by Backeberg was used in the original alkaloid studies as the majority of mescaline-rich Trichocereus are columnar in form and are white-flowered nocturnal-bloomers. The species used in the chemical study was gathered from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, and it would be interesting to have its full description.

Contemporary human bioassay of the species has shown inconsistent effects, possibly due to improper identification.

Also known as Echinopsis valida, but some question remains as to whether E. valida and T. validus are fully synonymous.

Mescaline (over 25 mg per 100 grams of fresh plant)

Turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele

T. pseudomacrochele may have earned the name "peyote" or "peyotillo" simply due to an article written by F. Altamirano in 1905 that suggested another peyote species grew in the area surrounding Querétaro, Mexico, besides Lophophora diffusa and Strombocactus disciformis, two well known peyote cactus (Bruhn & Bruhn 1973). Bruhn & Bruhn appear to offer the only support of it being referred to as peyotillo, but there does not appear to be any indication of medicinal or ceremonial use.

T. pseudomacrochele carries a close resemblance to L. williamsii and has been successfully crossed with it, creating L. williamsii x T. pseudomacrochele hybrids.

The variation krainzianus has been found to contain the following alkaloid composition while earlier studies of an unknown variation showed only hordenine. T. schmiedeckianus var. schwarzii,T. schmiedeckianus var. flaviflorus, and T. lophophoroides have been found to have mescaline in smaller amounts.

If any of these species are at all used ethnobotanically, it would seem more likely due to their possible medicinal properties rather than their value as mescaline-like hallucinogens.

Mescaline (2.48% of 250-500 mg of alkaloid per 100 grams of fresh plant)
N,N-Dimethylmescaline (Trichocereine)

Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus

Anderson's reference to this species as peyote is the only one located and can be explained by its being synonymous with Pelecyphora pseudopectinata. It is not believed to have any ceremonial use.

It may also be found as Normanbokea pseudopectinata.


N,N-Dimethylmescaline (Trichocereine)

Non-Cactaceous Species of Interest

BROMELIACEAE Tillandsia mooreana "waráruwi" (Note 3)

COMPOSITAE Cacalia cordifolia "peyote" "péyotl" "péyotl Xochimilicensi"
Cacalia decomposita "peyote" "maturi" "matarique" "hongo de los pinos"
Cacalia sinuata "peyote" "piote"
Senecio albo-lutescens "peyote"
Senecio canicida "clarincillo" "itzcuinpatli" "hierba del perro"
Senecio calophyllus "peyote"
Senecio cardiophyllus "peyote" "palo bobo" "piote"
Senecio cervariaefolius "peyote"
Senecio elatus (Note 4)
Senecio grayanus "palo loco" "peyote"
Senecio hartwegii "peyote" "peyote cimarrón" "peyote de Tepic" "sopepari"
Senecio ovatifolius "peyote"
Senecio petasitis "peyote"
Senecio praecox "candelero" "palo bobo" "palo loco" "quantlapatzinzintli" "texcapatli"
Senecio tolucanus "guantlapazinzintli" "peyote"

CRASSULACEAE Cotyledon caespitosa "peyote"

CYPERACEAE Scirpus sp. "bakána" "bakánowa" "bakánoa" (Note 5)

LEGUMINOSEAE Rhynchosia longeracemosa "peyote"

LYCOPERDACEAE Lycoperdon spp. "kalamota" "pedo del diablo"

ORCHIDACEAE Bletia campanulata "peyote" "peyote cimarrón"
Cranichis (?) speciosa "peyote" "peyote cimarrón"
Oncidium longifolium "híkuli" "peyote" (Note 6)

SOLANACEAE (Note 7) Brugmansia spp. "kiéri"
Datura inoxia (=D. Meteloides) "kiéri" "peyote"
Solandra brevicalyx "kiéri"
Solandra guttata "kiéri"


1) These "species" or "varieties" are generally considered synonymous with Lophophora williamsii: L. caespitosa, L. decipiens, L. echinata, L. fricii, L. jourdaniana, L. lutea, L. pentagona (5 ribbed), L. pluricostata (13 ribbed), L. texana (from Texas, USA), L. texensis (from Texas, USA), and L. ziegleri. L. diffusa has one accepted synonym, L. echinata var. diffusa, but will often be found as L. echinata.

Much clarification is needed regarding the Lophophora genus, especially L. williamsii, but unfortunately such detailed research is not permissible in the United States due to restrictions the state and federal governments have placed on the seed and plants.

L. williamsii is a highly variable species with many apparent growth patterns that should not immediately suggest variation or new taxon classification.

2) Trichocereus bridgesii, T. pachanoi, and T. peruvianus, appear to carry roughly the same concentrations of mescaline, having 25 mg or more per 100 grams of fresh plant material. T. macrogonus, T. taquimbalensis, T. terscheckii, and T. werdermannianus, have all commonly been found to contain 5 mg to 25+ mg of mescaline per 100 grams of fresh plant. T. cuzcoensis was reported to contain 0.5 mg to 5 mg mescaline per 100 grams of fresh plant while T. fulvilanus, T. strigosus, T. thelegonoides, and T. vollianus were all found to have only trace amounts of mescaline. Many other Trichocereus have been formally analyzed but have failed to show the presence of mescaline.

In reviewing these result one must be cognizant that in some cases only one plant of the species was tested, and this may not be representative of the species as whole. One must also be aware that much confusion surrounds the identification of plants within the genus. The methods used for alkaloid analysis must also be closely examined as not all techniques will produce the same final results.

Alkaloid content, even among plants of the same species, is quite variable. This may be due to genetics, age, seasonal variation, or environmental conditions such as soil composition, moisture, heat, light levels, and even plant dehydration. Relatively high nitrogen levels in the soil appear to increase mescaline concentrations somewhat. Scientific research has even suggested that "doping" T. pachanoi with mescaline precursors can increase mescaline content. Unfortunately, information presented by Adam Gottlieb has suggested to some that substantial mescaline increases can occur through doping. In fact, such experiments have produced only negligible results and attempts to ingest such doped cacti may produce serious health consequences.

Other Trichocereus of interest due to their morphological similarity to T. pachanoi and T. peruvianus include T. colossus,T. conaconenis, T. culpinensis, T. giganteus, T.glaucus, T. huanucoensis, T. knuthianus, T. lecoriensis, T. pallarensis (T. pallerensis), T. puquiensis, T. riomizquensis, T. santaensis, T. schoenii, T. tacaquirensis, T. tarmaensis, T. (Roseocereus) tephracanthus,T. trichosus,T. tulhuayacensis, and T. uyupampensis. All of these species are generally columnar and appear to be related morphologically, but with the findings regarding T. grandiflorus and T. validus, it seems likely that more semi-columnar tillering cacti will be found to have interesting chemical properties.

Major clarification of the Trichocereus genus is needed due to its close relation to the taxa Echinopsis, Helianthocereus, Lobivia, Soehresia, and Weberbauerocereus. Botanists have now placed Trichocereus fully within Echinopsis, but such a classification is not generally accepted by cultivators and only adds confusion to an already difficult classification system.

3) Tillandsia mooreana is a peyote "companion" known as "waráruwi." Harming this plant, possibly through improper collection methods, is considered dangerous.

The related T. purpurea has been depicted on Mochica pottery, possibly suggesting sacramental usage in the past.

4) Senecio elatus is a known additive to the San Pedro tea made from Trichocereus pachanoi. Due to the large number of Senecio peyote species, it seems likely that this genus would produce interesting pharmacological results.

I have a single report from New Zealand stating that S. articulatus is psychoactive and has been stolen from cultivators, presumably to be used as a psychoactive agent.

5) An unknown Scirpus sp. from various locations throughout the Tarahumara region is known as a very powerful herb and is considered one of their most important hallucinogenic plants.

The underground tubers, or "bolitas," are often cultivated and sold to the Tarahumara who fear growing the plants themselves, believing they will cause insanity. The plants must not be offended as to do so will lead to the sickness and death of the offender; therefore, the Tarahumara sing to them and occasionally offer them food before actual use. Though so feared, they are used to cure the insane and treat mental illness while being an effective medicine to relieve pain and cure physical illness.

The plant, being applied to the body or ingested, must be used cautiously out of concern that it will cause one to leap into fires. It is said that ingestion of the tubers causes a deep sleep where one can "travel" over great distances, speak with deceased relatives, and experience brilliant colors.

Harmaline (ß-carboline) alkaloids have been located within Scirpus, making it a possible source of monoamine oxidase inhibition. Such a property, if used internally with alkaloid containing cacti, may have the effect of increasing or altering the psychoactivity of either species independently. It is unknown if there had ever been cultural use of such a plant combination, but it seems quite likely considering the sacred status of both Scirpus and many cactus species.

A number of Scirpus species are considered medicines and ritual emetics by North American natives.

6) Oncidium longifolium is a peyote replacement among the Tarahumara if one misplaces the "true híkuri" (L. williamsii?). It is also known as O. cebolleta or O. ascendens and contains phenanthrene derivatives of unknown pharmacology.

7) Besides being generally considered peyote, these species are also considered forms of the plant known as "kiéri" or "the tree of the wind," among the Huichol.

To some of the Huichol those who follow kiéri are not shamans, but sorcerers, and are not given the same standing as those who travel the sacred pilgrimage to Wirikúta, the home of peyote. Yet to others kiéri must be mastered first before one can become a true shaman.

There is some question whether Solandra brevicalyx or possibly S. guttata is kiéri. There is also question as to which Brugmansia species carry this title, but they are most likely B. arborea and B. suaveolens. Datura is used by the Tarahumara as an additive to the maize based ceremonial drink known as "tesquino" and is believed to be inhabited by malevolent spirits.

Many Datura, and the related Brugmansia, are used throughout the world in medicine (an analgesic), in collective rituals, individual divination, and for communication with deities.

These species, all Solanaceous plants, contain tropane alkaloids similar to those found in Belladonna, Henbane, and Mandrake, plants long known throughout the Old World and used for "witchcraft." Though being condemned as heretical witches by their Christian contemporaries, those women and men who used these plants could in fact be better understood as herbalist whose shamanic religious inclinations prevented them from accepting the gradually more imposing puritanical religion. As the spreading Christian religion became more active in its hunt for demonic forces, many of the visions produced by these plants became filled with a combination of anti-Christian themes with pagan influences, such as a coven of twelve female witches dominated by one male dressed as a goat. Though the anti-Christian visions were purely subjective, the effects of these plants were so strong as to convince the partaker of their objective validity.

Tropanes are very dangerous deliriant and hallucinogenic chemicals that have been known to kill those foolhardy enough to try them.

Selected References

Anderson, Edward F. The Cactus Family. Timber Press, 2000.

Anderson, Edward F. Peyote: The Divine Cactus. The University of Arizona Press, 1996.

Bennett, Wendell C., & Zingg, Robert M. The Tarahumara, an Indian Tribe of Northern Mexico. University of Chicago Press, 1935.

Britton, N.L. & Rose, J.N. The Cactaceae. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publ. No. 248, (in 4 volumes) 1919, 1920, 1922 & 1923.

Bruhn, Jan G. Carnegiea gigantea: The Saguaro and its Uses. Economic Botany 25(3): 320-329, 1971.

Bruhn, Jan G., & Bruhn, Catarina. Alkaloids and Ethnobotany of Mexican Peyote Cacti and Related Species. Economic Botany 27: 241-251, 1973.

Bye, Robert A., Jr. Hallucinogenic Plants of the Tarahumara. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1: 23-48, 1979.

Castetter, Edward P., & Opler, M. E. The Ethnobiology of the Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache. The University of New Mexico Bulletin 297: 85-55, 1936.

Davis, Wade. Sacred Plants of the San Pedro Cult. Botanical Museum Leaflets 29 (4): 367-386, 1983.

Díaz, José Luis. Ethnopharmacology and Taxonomy of Mexican Psychodysleptic Plants. Journal of Psychedelic Drugs 11(1-2): 71-101, 1979.

Emboden, William. Narcotic Plants. The MacMillian Company, 1972.

Furst, Peter T. Ariocarpus retusus, the "False Peyote" of the Huichol Tradition. Economic Botany 25(2), 182-187, 1972.

Lumholtz, Carl. Unknown Mexico. Scribners, 1902.

Lundström, Jan & Agurell, Stig Biosynthesis of mescaline and tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloids in Lophophora williamsii (Lem.) Coult. Acta Pharmaceutica Suecica 8: 261-274, 1971.

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, Inc., 1998.

Pennington, Campbell W. The Tarahumara of Mexico. University of Miami Press, 1963.

Pinkley, H.V. Plant Admixtures to Ayahuasca, the South American Hallucinogenic Drink. Lloydia 32(3):305-313, 1969.

Rätsch, Christian. Enzyklopädie der psychoaktiven Pflanzen. AT Verlag, 1998.

Reko, Blas Pablo. Das Mexikanische Rauschgift Ololiuqui. El Mexico Antiguo 3(3-4): 1-7, 1934.

Rose, J.N. Notes on the useful plants of Mexico. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 5:220-259, 1899.

Schaefer, Stacy B. and Furst, Peter T. The People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion, and Survival. University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

Schmidt, Paul. Hybridization of Lophophora williamsii with Turbinicarpus and Mammillaria. Journal of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America 4 (6): 265, 1969.

Schultes, Richard Evans. Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and Plants Confused With It. Botanical Museum Leaflets 5 (5): 61-88, 1937.

Schultes, Richard Evans. Peyote and Plants Used in the Peyote Ceremony. Botanical Museum Leaflets 4 (8): 129-152, 1937.

Schultes, Richard Evans, & Hofmann, Albert. The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1973 (1980: Second Edition).

Thord-Gray, Ivar. Tarahumara-English / English-Tarahumara Dictionary. University of Miami Press, 1955.

Trout, K. Sacred Cacti (Second Edition). Better Days Publishing, 1999.

Trout, K. Trichocereus peruvianus? Entheogen Review 7(1): 17-19, 1998.

Recommended Reading

Aaronson, Bernard, & Osmond, Humphry. Psychedelics: The Use and Implications of Hallucinogenic Drugs. Anchor Books, 1970.

Anderson, Miles. Cacti and Succulents. Lorenz Books, 1999.

Backeberg, Curt. Cactus Lexicon. Blandford Press, 1977.

Davis, Wade. One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest. Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Davis, Wade. San Pedro, Cactus of the Four Winds. Shaman's Drum 52: 51-60, 1999.

Dobkins de Rios, Marlene. Hallucinogens: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Unity Press, 1990.

Furst, Peter T. Hallucinogens and Culture. Chandler and Sharp, 1990.

Grantham, Keith, & Klaassen, Paul. Cacti & Other Succulents. Timber Press, Inc., 1999.

Gottlieb, Adam. Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti. Ronin Publishing Inc., 1997.

Harner, Michael J. Hallucinogens and Shamanism. Oxford University Press, 1973.

Hewitt, Terry. The Complete Book of Cacti and Succulents. DK Publishing Inc., 1997.

Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception. Harper, 1954.

Kluver, Heinrich. Mescal and Mechanisms of Hallucination. University of Chicago Press, 1969.

La Barre, Weston. The Peyote Cult. University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Masters, R.E.L., & Houston, Jean. The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience. Dell Publishing Co., 1966.

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, 1998.

Mount, Guy. The Peyote Book: A Study of Native Medicine. Sweetlight Books, 1993.

Myerhoff, Barbara G. Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians. Cornell University Press, 1991.

Ott, Jonathan. Pharmacotheon. Natural Products Co., 1993. (Revised in 1996)

Pizzetti, Mariella. Guide to Cacti and Succulents. Simon & Schuster, 1985.

Preston-Mafham, Ken, & Preston-Mafham, Rod. Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary. Cassell Publishers Limited, 1991.

Schultes, Richard Evans & Hofmann, Albert. Plants of the Gods. Healing Arts Press, 1992.

Shulgin, Alexander, & Shulgin, Ann. PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. Transform Press, 1992.

Shulgin, Alexander, & Shulgin, Ann. TIHKAL: The Continuation. Transform Press, 1997.

Stafford, Peter. Psychedelics Encyclopedia. Ronin Publishing Inc., 1992.

Stewart, Omer C. Peyote Religion: A History. University of Oklahoma Press, 1987