List of Active Cacti

Nan's Nook : Archives : Botanicals : Cactus

Also See: Alkaloid List and Concentrations in Various Trichocereus Cacti : The Genus Trichocereus

Thanks to Tim Leary and Shroomzilla:                                  

1 ariocarpus agavoides
1 ariocarpus agavoides
2 ariocarpus fissuratus
3 ariocarpus kotschoubeyanusz
4 ariocarpus lloydii
5 ariocarpus retusus
6 ariocarpus scapharostrus
7 ariocarpus trigonus
8 azureocereus ayacuchensis
9 backebergia militaris
10 cactus grandiflorus
11 carnegiea gigantea
12 cereus alacriprotanus
13 cereus forbesii
14 cereus glaucus
15 cereus jamacaru
16 cereus peruvianus
17 cereus peruvianus monstruosus
18 cereus valadus
19 coryphantha bumamma
20 coryphantha calipensis
21 coryphantha cornifera
22 coryphantha cornifera var. echinus
23 coryphantha durangenis
24 coryphantha elephantidens
25 coryphantha greenwoodii
26 coryphantha macromeris
27 coryphantha missouriensis       
28 coryphantha ottonis
29 coryphantha pectinata
30 coryphantha poselgeriana
31 coryphantha radians
32 coryphantha ramillosa
33 coryphantha runyonii
34 coryphantha vivipara
35 denmoza rhodacantha
36 dolichothele longimamma
37 dolichothele sphaerica
38 dolichothele sucrulosa
39 dolichothele uberformis
40 echinocereus blankii
41 echinocereus cinerascens
42 echinocereus merkerii
43 echinopsis eyriesii
44 echinopsis rhodotricha
45 escontria chiotilla
46 espostoa haunucensis
47 gymnocalycium gibbosum
48 gymnocalycium leeanum
49 gymnocalycium saglione
50 helioanthocereus huascha
51 helioanthocereus pasacana
52 helioanthocereus poco
53 islaya minor
54 lemaireocereus weberii
55 lobivia allegriana
56 lobivia aurea
57 lobivia backebergii
58 lobivia bingamiana
59 lobivia formosa
60 lobivia huashua
61 lobivia pentland
62 lophocereus australis
63 lophocereus schottii
64 lophophora diffusa
64 lophophora diffusa
66 lophophora fricii
67 lophophora gatesii
68 lophophora jourdaniana
69 lophophora williamsii
70 mammillaria heyderii
71 mammillaria microcarpia
72 melocactus delessertianus
73 melocactus maxonii
74 mytrillocactus geometrizans
75 neoraimondia arequipensis var. roseiflora
76 notocactus ottonis
77 obregonia denegrii
78 opuntia acanthocarpa
79 opuntia aurantiaca
80 opuntia basilaris
81 opuntia clavata
82 opuntia cylindrica
83 opuntia echinocarpa
84 opuntia exaltata
85 opuntia ficus-indica
86 opuntia hickenii
87 opuntia imbricata
88 opuntia invicta
89 opuntia kleiniae
90 opuntia maldonadensis
91 opuntia ramosissima
92 opuntia schottii
93 opuntia spinosior
94 opuntia stanlyi var. kunzei
95 opuntia stanlyi var. stanlyi
96 opuntia subulata
97 opuntia versicolor
98 opuntia vulgaris
99 opuntia whipplei
100 pachecereus marginaatus
101 pachecereus pecten-aboriginum
102 pachecereus pringlei
103 pachecereus tehuantepecanus
104 pachecereus weberi
105 pelecyphora aselliformis
106 pelecyphora pseudopectinata
107 pereskia aculeata
108 pereskia autumnalis
109 pereskia corrugata
110 pereskia cubensis
111 pereskia godseffiana
112 pereskia grandifolia
113 pereskia pititache
114 pereskia tampicana
115 pereskiopsis chapistle
116 pereskiopsis scandens
117 pilosocereus chrysacanthus
118 pilosocereus geurreronis
119 pilosocereus maxonii
120 polaskia chende
121 pseudolobivia kermisina
122 pterocereus foetidus
123 pterocereus gaumeri
124 selenicereus pteranthus
125 solicia pectinata
126 stenocereus benekei
127 stenocereus eruca
128 stenocereus stellatus
129 stenocereus treleasei
130 stetsonia coryne
131 trichocereus andalgalensis
132 trichocereus bridgesii
133 trichocereus camarguensis
134 trichocereus candicans
135 trichocereus courantii
136 trichocereus cuzcoensis
137 trichocereus fulvilanus
138 trichocereus knuthianus
139 trichocereus lamprochlorus
140 trichocereus macrogonus
141 trichocereus manguinii
142 trichocereus pachanoi
143 trichocereus pasacana
144 trichocereus peruvianus
145 trichocereus purpureopilosus
146 trichocereus santiaguensis
147 trichocereus schickendantzii
148 trichocereus skottbergii
149 trichocereus species
150 trichocereus strigosus
151 trichocereus taquimbalensis
152 trichocereus terscheckii
153 trichocereus thelegonoides
154 trichocereus thelegonus
155 trichocereus tunariensis
156 trichocereus validus
157 trichocereus wedermannianus
158 tribinicarpus pseudomacrochele
159 wigginsia erinacea
160 wigginsia macrocantha
161 wigginsia tephracantha
162 coryphantha compacta
163 echinocereus triglochidiatus
164 epithelantha micromeris
165 mammilaria senilis

Posted: Nov 22 02, 02:32 PM GMT  

Super Freeeaking

Group: Members
Posts: 288
Member No.: 26
Joined: Nov 06 02

wub.gif wub.gif wub.gif
That is one great list.
Can you give us a top 5 mesc containing list unsure.gif

1: Peyote
2: P torch ?
3: san pedro ?

I got my coffee and I am waiting on your every word. coffee.gif drool.gif

Posted: Nov 23 02, 02:13 PM GMT  

Not a newbie

Group: Admin
Posts: 1840
Member No.: 2
Joined: Nov 01 02

That's the top three from a cultivation standpoint I would say...

But there is no really good exact answer to the Peruvians/Pachanoi question.

1) Peruvians _CAN_ be more potent than Pachanoi

2) Pachanoi has been agressively cultivated (by some) for it's mescaline content in this country for over 20 years

3) Peruvians is rarer, so there is not as much around, and fewer people are working with it.

There is a lot of good Pachanoi out there. Several cloned genotypes.

Somebody tested a single Peruvians and reported a high mescaline content. I do not doubt it. This information was published, it gets attention when heads go looking for Mescaline containing cactus (it got mine years ago).

So now there is this demand for the "more potent" Peruvians... Somebody goes out and collects (or buys) a few thousand seeds, germinates them, and sells the seedlings for $10.00 a pop...

Did they test these seedlings for potency? No. Are these seedlings genetically identical to the plant tested showing a very high mescaline content? No. Are some of the seedlings going to be crap (very little mescaline)? Yes (in my subjective experience, many of them, and you will see the same thing in Pedro seedlings).

I have tripped good off Peruvians a number of times. My unculled Peruvians (selected for vigor and potency from 100 seed germinations) are about the same potency as my Pachanoi, certainly not 3X stronger than my Pachanoi and not even close to Peyote.

Does this super potent Peruvians exist? Apparently it did (it was tested and reported), but is the Peruvians you are purchasing going to be the exact genotype (a particular genetic individual or a clone of that individual) of the Peruvians that was tested... I suppose it is possible, but highly unlikely.

I got email awhile back from Brad over at regarding Peruvians hybrids and clones. We are aware of some numbered hybrids out there (from somebody who has been working with Peruvians) which are _rumored_ to be very high potency, and very fast growing... I have yet to get one... Brad informed me he can get these clones.

Once again I must thank Zilla for his first class research wub.gif

Trichocereus validus (aka Echinopsis valida)

- B76 /Agurell et al 71

Body: Known primarily as stout, erect green columns although it may become

tree-like. Stems to 13.75" (35cm.) diameter.

Ribs: about 10.
Areoles/Spines: Areoles fairly large above, to 1.2" (3cm.) apart. Spines pale
yellow, sometimes darker above, few or weak at the apex, developing later
in the lower half of the areole. Seven to 10 radial spines to 1.3" (3.2cm.)
long with the bottom one the longest; 1-2 central spines to 2.75" (7cm.)

Flowers/Fruit: White flower to 5.5" (14cm.) long. Fruit ovoid, wooly.
Distribution: South East Bolivia.


Contains: mescaline is the predominate alkaloid in a rich mixture.

Recommended Temperature Zone: sunset: 16,17,21-24
USDA: 10-12

Frost Protection: Frost tender
Heat Tolerance: Light shade in Phoenix
Sun Exposure: In the garden full sun, inside needs bright light.
Origin: Peru, Bolivia
Growth Habits: Columnar cactus
Watering Needs: Little water, needs good drainage
Propagation: Offsets and seeds in spring

Body: Described in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (US), Vol. 70, No.
1:32-39, James D. Mauseth & Roberto Kiesling.

Trichocereus validus (aka Echinopsis valida)

- B76 /Agurell et al 71

Body: Known primarily as stout, erect green columns although it may become

tree-like. Stems to 13.75" (35cm.) diameter.

Ribs: about 10.
Areoles/Spines: Areoles fairly large above, to 1.2" (3cm.) apart. Spines pale
yellow, sometimes darker above, few or weak at the apex, developing later
in the lower half of the areole. Seven to 10 radial spines to 1.3" (3.2cm.)
long with the bottom one the longest; 1-2 central spines to 2.75" (7cm.)

Flowers/Fruit: White flower to 5.5" (14cm.) long. Fruit ovoid, wooly.
Distribution: South East Bolivia.


Contains: mescaline is the predominate alkaloid in a rich mixture.

Recommended Temperature Zone: sunset: 16,17,21-24
USDA: 10-12

Frost Protection: Frost tender
Heat Tolerance: Light shade in Phoenix
Sun Exposure: In the garden full sun, inside needs bright light.
Origin: Peru, Bolivia
Growth Habits: Columnar cactus
Watering Needs: Little water, needs good drainage
Propagation: Offsets and seeds in spring

Body: Described in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (US), Vol. 70, No.
1:32-39, James D. Mauseth & Roberto Kiesling.

Trichocereus werdermannianus

- B76 /Agurell 69.2
Body: Forming a large tree to over 16.5' (5m.) high, with a trunk to 3.3' (1m.)
high and 16" (40cm.) diameter.
Ribs: 10 at first, later 14 or more, to .75" (2cm.) high.
Areoles/Spines: Areoles 1" (2.5cm.) apart. On new growth about 10 spines,
central spine barely differentiated, to 2.75" (7cm.) long. Later growth increasing
in number. All spines yellowish, horn-colored or brownish. Flowers/Fruit: White
flower to 8" (20cm.) long. Fruit to 1.4" (3.5cm.) diameter.
Distribution: Southern Bolivia.

Tall, columnar, native to Bolivia.
Contains: mescaline, tyramine, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 3-methoxytyramine, 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Trichocereus terscheckii

Body: At first columnar with an intense green, woody trunk up to 17.75"
(45cm.) diameter, to 40' (12m.) tall. When older becomes branched with
parallel, ascending branches to 8" (20cm.) diameter. Often confused
with T. pasacana but is more branched, fewer ribs, different spines
and larger flowers.

Ribs: 8-14, prominent, obtuse, to 1.6" (4cm.) high.
Areoles/Spines: Areoles felted, to .6" (1.5cm.) diameter, to 1.2"
(3cm.) apart.

Spines: yellow, 8-15, tapering to a fine point, to 3.1" (8cm.) long.
Flowers/Fruit: Large flowers to 8" (20cm.) long, 4.75" (12cm.) broad.
Distribution: Northern Argentina.
Subspecies: v. montanus: Branches lighter green, obliquely ascending.

Tall arborescent Native to Catamarca, Argentina.
Contains: mescaline, trichocereine.


Recommended Temperature Zone: sunset: -
USDA: 8b-11

Frost Protection: Hardy to 18° F (-8° C)
Heat Tolerance: Light shade in Phoenix
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Origin: Northern Argentina
Growth Habits: Columnar cactus branching above ground, reaches
over 25 feet tall (7.5 m), branches are around 10
inches in diameter (25 cm)

Watering Needs: Little water, needs good drainage
Propagation: Seeds

In age becoming much branched, 10 to 12 meters high; trunk woody, up to 4·5 cm. in diameter; branches 1 to 2 dm. in diameter; ribs 8 to 14, prominent, 2 to 4 cm. high, obtuse; areoles large, 1 to 1.5 cm. in diameter, felted, 2 to 3 cm· apart; spines 8 to 15, subulate, yellow, up to 8 cm. long; flowers very large, 15 to 20 cm. long, 12.5 cm. broad; inner perianth-segments oblong, 7 cm. long, acute, white ;scales on the ovary and Flower-tube ovate, mucronate-tipped, their axils filled with long brown wool.

This is a very large cactus, called in Argentina cardon grande. It has frequently been confused with another species, T, pasacana, of the same region, but it is more branched, with fewer ribs, different spines, and large flowers.

Trichocereus taquimbalensis

Body: Simple or branching from below or from the flank (if damaged?) to
8.2' (2.m.) high. Branches robust, dark green, to 6" (15cm.)

Ribs: 9 Areoles/Spines: Areoles whitish, .4" (1cm.) diameter, .6"
(1.5cm.) apart. Spines thickened below, light brown at first, then
gray. Eight to 13 radial spines, tapering to a fine point to .75"
(2cm.) long. One stout central spine, porrect or directed downwards
to 2.4" (6cm.) long.

Flowers/Fruit: White flowers to 9" (23cm.) long. Dark green fruit, 1.6"

Distribution: Cochabamba, Taquimbala, Bolivia.

Subspecies: v. wilkeae: Radial spines to 1" (2.5cm.) long, partially stout,
tapering to a fine point, curving, sometimes more or less hooked. Four thick,
tapering to a fine point central spines, sometimes compressed, much thickened
below. Sometimes all the spines are dark at the base and the tip. From Tupiza,

Native to Bolivia.
Contains: mescaline (50% of total alkaloids), hordenine, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 3-methoxytyramine.

Body: Described in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (US), Vol. 70, No.
1:32-39, James D. Mauseth & Roberto Kiesling.

Trichocereus peruvianus

- B76, BR63 /Agurell 69.2 /Pardanani 71
Body: Bluish-green, frosted stems, erect at first then arching over or even
prostrate to 23' (7m.) long. Stems to 8" (20cm.) diameter.

Ribs: 6-8, broadly rounded with a "V"-shaped notch over the areole.

Areoles/Spines: Areoles large, brown-felted to 1" (2.5cm.) apart. Spines brown
from the first or honey-colored below, darker above; rigid and stout, not at all swollen at base. Six to 8 radial spines to .4" (1cm.), usually 1 center spine to 1.6" (4cm.).

Flowers/Fruit: Large, white flowers.

Distribution: Around 7000' (2100m.) near Matucana, Peru, on the western
slope of the Andes .

Subspecies: Three varieties seem to be available commercially although they
don't seem to be "official" subspecies. The comments below are my personal
observations/opinions based on young, seed grown plants. v. "Ancash": Similar
to a "KK242" but the "V"-notches are much subtler, often not visible at all.
Presumably from the Ancash region northwest of Matucana. v. "Blue": Lighter in
color ("bluer"), areoles seem further apart (i.e., where in a certain distance a "KK242" has 4 areoles, the "Blue" has only 3). v. KK242: Seems to fit the
standard T. peruvianus ID.

*** ** *** *** *** ** *** *** *** ** *** *** *** ** *** ***

Trichocereus peruvianus: Chemical studies indicate that T. peruvianus contains mescaline levels nearly as high as lowest tested L. williamsii, but alkaloid levels can be quite variable from cactus to cactus. A single known study of the KK242 variety found the dried plant to contain .82 mescaline, nearly as high as L. williamsii's range of 0.9 to 6.3 using dried material for analysis. Interestingly, dried T. pachanoi has also tested as high as 2.0, twice as high as the .82 recovery of T. peruvianus. K. Trout mentions this species
as being a sacred cacti in Peru, but fails to give supporting ethnological data. Considering the relatively recent discovery of the native use of T. brigesii this should not be hard to believe. Though considered by most to be a species unto itself there still appears to be a lot of confusion regarding its proper identification. A few variations are known to be available domestically in the USA, including the KK242 variety from areas surrounding
Matucana, Peru, and the short spined variety from Huancabamba, Peru, but many more local variations appear to exist. The short spined variation is nearly identical to T. pachanoi in its apperance; a mostrose form of it can also sometimes be found. It is quite
possible that many misidentified plants are being sold as T. peruvianus, but it must also be noted that locality variations and hybrids do exist in cultivation and in nature, and that this may effect proper identification.
"Peruvian Torch", "Prickly Pear" Tyramine

3-Methoxytyramine Mescaline 2-chloromescaline 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine

All information here, is fromThe Narcotic and Hallucinogenic Cacti of the New World
By Michael S. Smith

*** ** *** ***

Also known as the Peruvian fence post. This cactus is fast becoming popular, as it is almost as fast growing as San Pedro, but with a higher content of mescaline. Very fast growing, huge when mature, columnar. Is readily available in Peru but is rare as an ornamental in the U. S. This species is also known to grow on ledges and let its heavy arms, that may be up to 5 meters long, dangle over the edge of cliffs.

Some studies reported up to 10% mescaline content by dry weight but a more reasonable and believable figure is in the 1 - 3% range. It contains only a few other psychoactive alkaloids, mainly tryptamines in much lower proportions.
Contains: mescaline (0.82%), 2-chloromescaline (.02%), tyramine (.009%), 3-methoxytyramine (.01%), 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (.004%).


Body: Described in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (US), Vol. 70, No.
1:32-39, James D. Mauseth & Roberto Kiesling.


Trichocereus macrogonus

Body: Stout (although it may be slender in cultivation) bluish green,
particularly on young growth, to over 6.5' (2m.) high. Branches 2.75"
(7cm.) diameter, more or less frosted at first.

Ribs: Usually 7, rounded, .6" (1.5cm.) high, separated by depressions over the

Areoles/Spines: Gray areoles, .6" (1.5cm.) to .75" (2cm.) apart. Horn colored
to brown spines, later blackish or dark gray or grayish-brown.
Six to 9 radial spines, tapering to a fine point, from .2"
(.5cm) to .75" (2cm.) long. Central spines stouter, to about
.75" (2cm.) long.

Flowers/Fruit: White flowers, to 7" (18cm.) long, broadly spherical.

Distribution: South America (not reported in the wild).

Huge, columnar.
Contains: mescaline, tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Echinopsis cuzcoensis
Scientific Name: Echinopsis cuzcoensis
Synonym:Trichocereus cuzcoensis
Family: Cactaceae

Trichocereus cuzcoensis

Body: Densely branched body, erect to 20' (6m.), branches somewhat
spreading, light green at first.

Ribs: 7-8, low and rounded.

Areoles/Spines: Areoles up to .6" (1.5cm.) apart. Up to 12 very stout spines,
yellow, thickened below and tapering to a fine point, to 2.75"

Flowers/Fruit: Flowers white, fragrant, to 5.5" (14cm.); flower tubes green to
2.5" (6cm.).

Distribution: Cuzco region, Peru.

Contains: tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, mescaline, 3-methoxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Recommended Temperature Zone: sunset: 16,17,21-24
USDA: 10-12

Frost Protection: Frost tender
Heat Tolerance: Light shade in Phoenix
Sun Exposure: In the garden full sun, inside needs bright light.
Origin: Peru (Cuzco)
Growth Habits: Tree-like cactus, up to 20 feet tall (6 m)
Watering Needs: Little water, needs good drainage
Propagation: Offsets and seeds in spring

Plants tall, 5 to 6 meters high, much branched, the branches somewhat spreading, light green when young; ribs 7 or 8, low and rounded; areoles rather close together, 1 to l.5 cm. apart; spines numerous, often 12, very stout, rigid, sometimes 7 cm.long, swollen at base;

Flowers 12 to 14 cm. long, doubtless nocturnal but, sometimes at least, remaining open during the morning, fragrant: Flower-tube green, 5 to 6 cm. long; inner perianth-segments oblong, white, 4 to 5 cm· long; filaments weak, declining on the ]ower side of the throat; scales on the ovary and flower-tube small, bearing a few long hairs in their axils

Trichocereus bridgesii

Body: Forms a tall branching shrub, to 16' (5 m.) high. Pale green, partially
frosted. Branches to 6" (15cm.). Not to be confused with Echinopsis

Ribs: 4-8, rounded, later flatter; separated by broad but shallow intervals.

Areoles/Spines: Large areoles, about .75" (2cm.) apart. Two to 6 dissimilar,
yellowish spines, up to 4" (10cm.) long although shorter in
cultivated plants.

Flowers/Fruit: Flowers white, 7" (18cm.) long, flower-tube up to 2.4" (6cm.)
long. Fruits oblong, 2.4" (6cm.) large. Distribution: La Paz,

Fast growing, slender, columnar.
Contains: mescaline, tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Tall, 2 to 5 meters high, more or less branching, pale green, a little glaucous; branches 1 to 1.5 dm. in diameter, 4 to 8 ribbed: ribs obtuse, separated by broad but shallow intervals; areoles large, about 2 cm.apart; spines 2 to 6, yellowish, acicular to subulate, very unequal, sometimes 10 cm. long, not swollen at base; flowers large, 18 cm long;

Flower tube 5 to 6 cm, long; throat broad; inner perianth segments oblong, perhaps white, 5 to 6 cm, long; scales on ovary and flower-tube small, sometimes only 3 to 4 mm long, scattered, bearing numerous hairs in their axils; fruit scaly, long-hairy, 5 to 6 cm. long.


Trichocereus brigesii:

This plant was first recognized as an aboriginal inebrient in an essay written by Wade Davis, a student of R.E. Schultes, and published in a Harvard Botanical Leaflet in 1983. Wade Davis' 1997 publication One River also makes mention of this plants use among indigenous populations in Peru. Testing shows this plant contains over 25 mg. of mescaline per 100 grams of fresh plant, equal with T. pachanoi. Three different varieties of this spieces are known, v. brevispinus, v. longispinus, and v. lageniformis. Monstrose forms can also be found in cultivation.

This species is wonderful for grafting, but care must be taken with watering as it is more supseptable to rotting than T. pachanoi. 3/P, 11 (see note #2)

3-Methoxytyramine 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine
3,4-dimethoxy-5-hydroxyphenethylamine Tyramine 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine Mescaline

All information here, is fromThe Narcotic and Hallucinogenic Cacti of the New World By Michael S. Smith

San Pedro, Peyote, Mescaline : Archive


Posted by: Nanook Nov 23 02, 11:11 AM GMT
Again thanks to Zilla for the excellent research wub.gif

I, Trichocereus, A Tale of the Cacti
by Paul Gardner

That strange history of the family Trichocereus...
It's probably safe to say that many of you reading this have probably been made aware of the religious and magical powers of the genus Trichocereus through the Internet. The speed with which "information" can be spread from one corner of the world to the other is truly miraculous and would
no doubt amaze and appall the shamans of old who traditionally would pass this information on through an arduous apprenticeship with hand picked students who just may or may not make the
final cut.

It's the abundance of misinformation on the web as well as the endangered species lovin' commie environmentalist in me that prompted my interest in doing this article. I've tried to back up everything I say here with published facts, I'm trying to keep the net lore to a minimum but I view this as a work in progress and I am by no means an expert, just an interested amateur. I doubt seriously if all the valid information known about these cacti has been published, if any of you reading this can add
information to what is here I fully intend to update this article as warranted, so send it in! As with so many things in life, the downside of the Internet is also it's upside. Information can only be suppressed if it's not common knowledge. If we put what is known out for all to see then Big Brother is less likely to be able to squash what I feel is a legitimate religious movement based on the consumption of alkaloid containing cacti.

I've structured this article in two parts, the first is for the data nerd in me. It's my attempt at bringing together descriptions and identification techniques which will enable us to identify the cacti we find and possibly to identify other species which might be worthy of further investigation.

Go to the Species Key

Go to the Species Descriptions

The second part speaks to the eco nerd in me. It's fairly obvious if estimates are to be believed that Lophophora williamsii is being consumed at an unsustainable rate and is doomed to extinction if trends continue. For some inexplicable reason that is unacceptable to me, even though I have only a very limited desire to personally experience it's teachings. While the data in the Alkaloid Summary clearly shows that Trichocerei are no match for the alkaloid stew in L. williamsii , a mixture that no doubt is an integral part of it's unique experience, reports clearly suggest that Trichocereus species offer a religious experience of a similar nature and might be an acceptable substitute for it's endangered cousin. (OK, you've been expecting it, so here goes...Ingesting mescaline containing cacti is illegal. It is not illegal to grow non-L. williamsii cacti as specimens or to understand their chemical makeup. Just don't consume them, that is very bad and will damn you straight to hell or the nearest jail cell if our friends in the government are to be believed and why would they lie about
something like that?).

Go to the Alkaloids List

As I said, there is no attempt at making this a definitive work and is basically just a series of guesses based on the information that I've come across so, like anything else on the Internet, it should be taken with large amounts of skepticism and doubt. Do your homework, follow the spirit of your own path and by all means let me know if I need to make a correction. I'd like to get this right.

Trust no one little marmoset, no one...

According to Backeberg B76, the genus Trichocereus is mainly distinguished from it's cactus brothers and sisters by it's funnelform, nocturnal flower. This presents a serious dilemma to collectors and enthusiasts since the odds of catching one in bloom are extremely low, thus we're forced to identify any potential additions to our collections based on their physical characteristics. The problem with this is that Trichocerei vary greatly in appearance - while all are basically columnar there are tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones and in-between ones. Some form vast colonies
while others are solitary tubes of cactus juice. Compounding this nightmare, Trichocerei bare many of the same characteristics as some of their close relatives (Echinopsis, Helianthocereus and Weberbauerocereus), so much so that a debate rages among those who give a darn about such things as to whether there should be a genus called Trichocereus at all, some would prefer to lump them into Echinopsis. I have absolutely no op inion on that but for the purposes of this article I'll be calling them Trichocereus. That'll show 'em.

So just what are you supposed to do when you're at the garden center and an attractive cactus does the "Pssst, hey big boy/girl, take me...Now!"? Do you ignore the brazen creature or do you think to yourself "Hmmm, self, would a monetary transaction now propel me into a mind blowing experience later?" Just how do you know what you're buying? Well, first off, nothing beats a lot of experience. Once you actually see some of these beauties in the flesh identifying them later gets much easier. There truly is no substitute for first hand knowledge. Unfortunately if you're stuck in some dog-forsaken place that doesn't have a well stocked botanical garden you're going to be seriously out of luck. Sure there's the library - you remember them, that place in school with the books that were
out of date even when we had a first lady named Mamie? They're great but, more often than not, if they have any cacti books at all the pictures are in black and white and taken from a great distance. So what's the ethnobo tanist to do?

Fortunately we can all be assisted by work done by others (ah, the glory of the Internet!). Britton & Rose BR63 developed a key to the species which is useful in identifying just what you're looking at. Unfortunately at the time they developed it they were only acknowledging 19 species of Trichocerei.
As you can see from the Species Descriptons, I've got over 75 cacti that have at one time or another been labeled Trichocereus, so this key is only a starting point. What needs to happen [hint, hint] is for some enterprising individual to link the non-listed species from their descriptions and photos with the 19 Trichocerei that are listed and place them into the chart in the appropriate slot. Be that as it may, they did get 5 out of ~13 of the "known" mescaline containing Trichocerei so what are you complaining about?

Go to the Species Key

Uh huh...

So..."This newfangled key is all well and good," you say (or maybe not, just go with me on this) "but the Trichocereus I'm trying to identify doesn't fit into one of it's all too pat categories. What now?"

Now it gets a little harder. I've taken the liberty of using Backeberg B76 and Britton & Rose's BR63 descriptions, "translated" and consolidated them so they would fit into the format I use in the Species Descriptions. The thing for you to do now is to figure out the basics of your cactus (i.e., body style, number of ribs, how the areoles (the thing the spines come out of ) and spines are configured and if you're lucky enough, the shape and color of the flower), match those with the descriptions and there you have it. Of course, this is ludicrously oversimplified, trained professionals have a difficult time separating these things, we amateurs are really going to have to put some time into it if we're going to try to ID our cacti ourselves. However, the rewards are many if we get it right. Not only will you avoid
accidentally poisoning some defenseless mammal with dangerous alkaloids, you might just be able to spot that needle in the haystack at your local MegaGlobal Garden Co., Inc.™.

Go to the Species Descriptions

As you can see, many of the "descriptions" are blank. Basically what I've done is taken every species of Trichocereus I've ever run across, even if it's actually some other species like Echinopsis, and included it here. The thought is that if any of you out there, dear readers, have any more information or can point me to a source that does we can gradually fill the Species Description chart in to completion.

Posted by: Nanook Nov 23 02, 11:16 AM GMT
( Continued )

Let all the poisons that lurk in the skin hatch out...

There are all sorts of lists floating around out there that name the "known" mescaline containing Trichocerei, Ott O96 lists 12 species, the Natural High FAQs typically use Ott's 12 and add Trichocereus scopulicola. Studying these 13 a little more closely uncovers several interesting points that I think deserve to be brought up.

Go to the Alkaloid List

Eight of the species seem to have solid scientific corroboration of a religiously desirable alkaloid content. They are T. bridgesii, T. macrogonus, T. pachanoi, T. peruvianus (although this one has dueling studies, one found the evil alkaloid, the other didn't), T. taquimbalensis, T. terscheckii, T.
validus and T. werdermannianus. With the exception of T. terscheckii, which has 14, all of these have 10 or fewer ribs and generally conform to Agurell's notion that the mescaline containing Trichocerei all have a stem and are candelabra-like.

I mention the notion of rib count to offer speculation as to the possible significance of the much coveted 4 ribbed T. pachanoi to the curanderos of Peru. I wonder if the fact that the most entheogenic Trichocerei have fewer than 10 ribs was part of the knowledge base that was imparted to the novice as a part of his/her training and, as an outgrowth of that, fewer ribs began to gain a certain mystique, if only as a one upmanship, bragging rights sort of thing? Whether this mystique is justified is unknown to myself, studies do not include the rib count of their specimens, heck, they only rarely include the age of the stock they are testing (a very important statistic if you ask me).

Two species contain extremely small to trace quantities of mescaline, T. cuzcoensis and T. fulvilanus. Of the two, if one deserves to be tested again I think it would be T. cuzcoensis as it does fit the desired morphology, indeed if you plot the 8 species listed above on Britton & Rose's original key you find T. cuzcoensis between T. macrogonus and T. peruvianus. It's possible that since so little is known about the specimens that were tested there may be good cause to give this one another go. Morphologically speaking, T. fulvilanus is a long shot at any thing other than trace amounts IMHO.

Unfortunately I have no idea why T. scopulicola appears on these lists. Not only am I unable to find even a description of this species, I've been unable to turn up any studies that comment on it's alkaloid content. I suspect this one is a true Internet baby, perhaps there's a report out there somewhere, if there is I'd sure like to see it.

T. strigosus is also a bit of a mystery at the moment since the only study I can find, A71, lists hordenine as it's sole alkaloid. The study cited by Ott is from an Argentinean Journal that has so far eluded me so it's entirely possible this species does contain the dreaded alkaloid but it remains to
be seen. However, if one were to base our speculation purely on morphology, T. strigosus would not be a likely candidate for the list.

T. spachianus offers a more disturbing scenario. Ott O96 cites a study by Pummangura P82 as the source for his placement of this species on his list. Not only does this study quite clearly state that T. spachianus does not contain mescaline (citing earlier studies), it's used as the control cactus for it's investigation into whether alkaloids move through a mescaline-containing cactus and into grafted cuttings of non-mescaline containing cactus. (For the record, they don't). Why Ott is citing this article is a complete mystery and it's hoped that it's some sort of editing error and perhaps there is a study out there that he intended to cite asserting that T. spachianus does contain mescaline. I sort of doubt it though, as again it's morphology is way out from what we would expect a true carrier to look like.

Of course, just because somebody published it in a study doesn't make it true, T. peruvianus is a perfect example. One study finds mescaline, the other doesn't. I would like to strongly encourage all future researchers to provide much more information about their specimens, age particularly. Since it's generally agreed that alkaloid production is a defense mechanism for the plant I think in this instance we can draw an analogy from our own human experience and apply it to Trichocereus (dangerous anthropomorphism I know but go with me...). I know that I have many more defense mechanisms now than when I was a child, why wouldn't this be the same for a plant? Additionally, I believe that among peyoteros it's generally accepted that the oldest L. williamsii plants offer the most
bang for the buck. Testing a year old seedling would strike me as a gesture in futility, just as comparing a 3 year old T. peruvianus to a 15 year old T. pachanoi might be extraordinarily misleading.

Who then are the likely suspects for further research? My hero, K. Trout T97, offers up two that are morphological candidates, T. puquiensis and T. santaensis. I would also include T. chalaensis, T. glaucus, T. knuthianus, T. schoenii, T. tarmaensis, T. trichosus and T. tulhuayacensis in the list of
possible alternate sacraments based on their morphology. It's interesting to note that T. santaensis and T. schoenii both have "V"-notches above their areoles just like their cousin, T. peruvianus.

Write no more about Trichocereus, write no more...

The study and religious use of Trichocereus has been going on for thousands of years whether our governments are willing to acknowledge it or not. Access to this accumulated knowledge is now available in the farthest reaches of our troubled planet and should be treated with extreme reverence and caution, at all levels of our existence. Acted on responsibly we may be able to save an endangered, spiritually and culturally significant species and in the process expand the range of
other plant teachers. Treated like a "woohoo, get high!" party drug we might lose not just the plants but even more of our ever dwindling freedoms. I vote to use them wisely.

Copyright 1998, Paul Gardner. Feel free to use the information contained herein, God n' Guvment knows I don't have any claim to that but if you use my words and get paid for it, expect to hear from me. Otherwise, knock yourselves out. Copy away!