Common names

Common names used for peyote or names that have been applied to peyote

azee (’azee’) [14], ’azee’ diyiní [14a], ’azee’ yit’aalii [14b], ’azee’ ch’íidii [14c], bacánoc [37], the bad seed [27] (an erroneous name), bayote [63], bee-sugar [33], beyo [17], biisung [1, 7], biote  [37], biznaga [43], cactus [27],  cactus buttons [27],  cactus-puddingcamaba  [37], challote (once a trade name in Starr County, Texas), chaute, chief [27], chiee [37], ciguri  [37], devil’s rootdiabolic root, the divine cactus, divine herb [37], dope beans [69], dream buttons [46], dry whisky, dumpling cactus, foutouri [8, metaphorical name meaning “flower”], gicuri [21], green whiskey [27], hahaayanx [2], hick-o-kee/hick-oke/hic-o-ke [68], hicoli [21], hicore, hícori [8], hícouri [8], hículi  [37], hícuri [8], híkoli [21], híkori [21], híkuli [8, 21], híkuri [8], hikúri [37], hi-kuri [51], hi-kuri waname [51], ho [13], holy chew [62], hos [13], ho-as [11], hoos [36], hoos [36], hoosh [74], houanamé [21], houatari [6], houtari [6], huaname [21], huatari [6], huñka [25], hus [35], icuri  [37], Indian cocaine [59], Indian dope [58], jag beans [61], jícoli [21], jícori [8], jículi  [37], jicuri  [21], jicurite  [37], jíkuli, jikuli [55], jíkuri [21], joutori [21], joy beans [56], kamaba [22], kamba [22], kóp [5], likuri [45], L.S.D. cactus [29], makan [1, 15], mascale beans [57], medicine, medicine of God  [37], medizin [37], mescal, mescal beans [32], mescal button, mescale, (all names including ‘mesc-’ or variants are erroneous. See 32.), mescalito [27], mezcal buttons  [37], moon [27], Mr. William’s Echinocactus [54], muscale buttons [41], muscle buttons [70], natáinoni [1, 9], naw-tai-no-nee [1, 9], nesac’ [24], nezats [24], nicouri [30], nonc-gáiεn [23], o-jay-bee-kee [1, 17], ololiuqui (An erroneous name), opium buttons [75], P [27], pajé [3], pee-yot [9. Now also means “medicine”], peiotl, peodi [47], peote, pejori [16], pejote, pejuta  [1, 37a], pellote, peotl  [37], peyiotl [44], pie-o-ke [66, 67], peyori [18], peyote bean [60], peyot [64], péyotl, peyotlkaktus  [37], peyotlevye (?) [52], péyotl xochimilicensis [42], péyotl zacatecensis [40], peyotyl [49], pezote, pie-o-ke [74], piote, piotl, piule (An erroneous name), piyot [9], plejotl [71], raíz diabólica (By Ortega), Rauschgiftkaktus  [37], the sacred mushroom [28] (An erroneous name), schnapskopf [31], sei [10], seni [10], señi  [37], sugar [33], teocomitl ahuitzyo [26], teonanacatl [28] (An erroneous name), topi [27], tuna de tierra, turnip cactus, ubadama/ubutama [34], uocoui  [37], vegetable whiskey[66], wakoare [65], walena [1, 20], waname [51], wanamo [51], wanamu [51], watara [6], whiskey barrel cactus [38], whiskey cactus, whiskey root[66], white mule, William’s aloëcactus [53], William’s Echinocactus [54], wo-co-wist [4], wohoki [4], wokow [4], wokowi [4], wok-wave/wokwave [75], wokwi [4], the wonderful herb [50], woqui [4], xícori [8], xwucdjuyahi [12], xucladjin-dei [36], xucladjinłndei [39], xos [74].

Also can be encountered in Chinese as cuì guān yù, 烏羽玉 [Wiki] and as 乌羽玉.  
These make *great* search terms for imagery.


1. Pre-peyote word meaning “Medicine”, currently used to designate Lophophora williamsii.

2. Arapaho

3. Coahuilteco [More properly, Pakawan; this name was given in Garcia 1760.]

4. Comanche (wokwi and wokowi were said by Mooney to be generic terms for cacti. Stewart similarly gives w gwe i-a as a word for ‘cactus’.)

5. Comecrudo or Carrizo of Tamaulipas

6. Cora of the Tepic Mountains [Rätsch 1998 also gives “chiee” as a Cora name for peyote]

7. Delaware

8. Huichols of Jalisco (and Nayarit)

9. Kickapoo

10. Kiowa (Sei is said by Mooney to be generic for all cacti originating as an older name for prickly pear cacti.)

11. Kiowa Apache

12. Lipan (meaning “pricker one eats”)

13. Mescalero Apaches

14. Navaho (The word ’azee’ means medicine and is used by traditional Navajos to refer to any medicinal substance or material used in a curing ceremony)

14a.  Navajo name meaning “Holy medicine

14b. Navajo name meaning “chewing medicine”; name is used by nonpeyotists

14c. Navajo  name meaning “Ghost medicine” ; derogatory name is used by nonpeyotists. Translated as “Devil medicine” in 1940 Tribal Council hearings. [See Note 10]

15. Omaha

16. Opata

17. Otomi

18. Pima of the Gila River region.

19. Shawnee

20. Taos

21. Tarahumare of Chihuahua

22. Tepehuane of Durango [Rätsch 1998 spells “camaba”]

23. Tonkawa of southern Texas

24. Wichita of Oklahoma

25. Winnebago of South Dakota (“The Father Peyote”)

26. Said to have been used by the ancient Aztecs; Schultes 1937b cited Martinez 1928

27. Said to be names used by drug users in the late 1970’s, by Anderson 1980 and/or listed as a street name by Marnell (ed) 1997. The latter also gives “buttons” and “tops” as names for the drug.

28. This is in error but is still occasionally encountered in literature, probably originating with William E. Safford’s mistaken proposal, (among other places in Safford 1916a) that the identity of teonanacatl, the sacred mushrooms, (at that time not yet rediscovered by Western scholars since the persecution of the Catholic Church had driven their use to exist only in secrecy), was in fact dried peyote buttons.

Safford’s reasoning was that, despite peyote and mushrooms being mentioned separately as two obviously different plants, the latter specifically said to be a fungus, they were probably confused by a writer who had never seen the fresh plants [Note 12] The person who was confused was Safford who inexplicably rejected abundant evidence that was available to him. 

29. Given as a synonym in Rowley 1978. Gordon Rowley is the only person that I am aware of who has ever used this name.

30. Said by Anonymous 1959 to be used by “the Huichols of Jalisco and the Tarahumares of Chihuahua.”

31. Rauh 1978

32. This name has been, and still is, far more commonly applied to the red seeds of Dermatophyllum secundiflorum (AKA Sophora secundiflora), a small leguminous shrub or tree, than to peyote but it arises from neither one.

Confusion on this point is widely encountered. The etymology of the word “mescal” is clearly associated with the Agave “century plant” as it comes from a Nahuatl word “mexcalli” meaning “cooked agave” so the jump to peyote and then to the red bean is a curious one worth pondering.

All variants of these names (whether given as mescal, muscale or mascal, or similar spelling, and whether it was as buttons or beans) appear to have been saddled onto peyote by Christian reformers as part of a deliberate attempt to present it to the public as a dangerous intoxicant during their intensive activities aimed at achieving prohibition laws against it. See the 2017 presentation by Trout at ESPD50.

Contrary to some popular assertions, the origins of the word mescal have nothing to do with the red bean. Borg 1937 inexplicably claimed it came from a word for fungus but I have not yet found additional support for that.  Borg MAY have been confused by W.E. Safford’s confusion.

Two separate theories have arisen as to how the ‘red bean’, as it has usually been called, came to be called the ‘mescal bean’, in one version it was used as an additive to increase the strength of mescal,  the other has it arising from a separate etymological origin. Interestingly, peyote was similarly employed as an additive to mescal, it was occassionally mashed with water and ‘fermented’ on its own, and the red beans were added to brewed peyote by a handful of tribes.

Mooney’s assertion that the Mescalero Apaches derived their name from mescal (due to their use of peyote) is pointed out by LaBarre and others to be in error as the Mescaleros were already known by this name well before they became aware of peyote or began to use it.

33. Said by LaBarre to have been the names used by John Wilson (Caddo-Delaware).

34. Japanese name for peyote in Fujita et al. 1972. Ubudama appears to be a misspelling. gives as ペヨーテ.
Wikipedia does as well but also gives Lophophora williamsii as ウバタマ.

Ubutama is also the name of a famous Japanese confectonary that is said to be a bitter red bean paste sweetened with sugar and wrapped in a layer of agar jelly. The name is believed to refer to its shape. It is not clear to me which application of the name came first, the plant or the treat.    

35. Given as a name for peyote by Stewart 1987, page 360, in entry 63. Origin is not clear in his note.

36. Given as names used by ‘Apaches’ (Mescalero?). xucladjin-dei is said to be an aboriginal name that has fallen into disuse. Boyer et al. 1968 [in Harner (ed.) 1973]

37. Listed as names by Rätsch 1998: page 327. Rätsch listed many other names that are also in this list. I made note only when his list contained names that were not already included.

37a. Said to be a Dakota word for medicine.

38. Given as the common name by Schneck.

39. xucladjinłndei is given in Castetter & Opler 1936 as the name used by the Mescalero Apache meaning “cactus which they eat”.

40. Name used by Francisco Hernandez and its first binomial.

41. Erroneous name encountered in some of the early literature.

42. Another name used by Hernandez; thought by Anderson 1980 to refer, instead, to Cacavalia cordifolia.

43. Word meaning “carrot”: a generic term used for many cacti.

44. Word used in a French language publication by Benzi 1969.

45. Word given as a Huichol name. Evans 1979.

46. Name used in a 1941 New York Sunday News article

47. Name used in a 1938 Gardenerville Record-Courier (Nevada) article

49. Spelling sometimes appearing in Bulletin on Narcotics articles

50. Name used by Hoebel 1950

51. Names given in Thord-Grey Tarahumara-English Dictionary

52. Russian version of A. Gottlieb’s book has title “Peyotlevye Kaktusy”

53: Name given in Rümpler 1886

54: Name given in Hooker 1847

55: Name given in De Félice 1936

56: Name given in United Press 1909

57: Spelling given in Anon 1908, 1909 & 1911

58: A name used in some pejorative accounts such as Tranter 1942.

59: A name used in 1922 news accounts (examples: Hope Pioneer, 26 October, page 12, Yorkville Enquirer, page 7 and the Washington Evening Star 19 June, page 4).

60: A name used in the 1922 Washington Evening Star, 19 June, page 4.

61: A name used in the 1909 Yakima Herald, 16 June, page 2.

62: A name used in the 1913 The Washington Times, Final Edition, page 7.

63: A name used by Augustine Alba, a Mexican detective, quoted in the 1918 Free Trader-Journal (Ottowa, Illinois), 28 October, page 3.

64: Spanish name given in Jose Arlegui 1737 (1851) Chronica de la provincia de N.S.P.S. Francisco de Zacatecas.

65: Name used by Kiowa; given in Hugh Lennox Scott’s Ft. Sill ledgers.

66: Purported “Indian” name for “whiskey root” given by “The Colonel” in 1857 in The Times Picayune, (New Orleans, LA), 30 September, page 1. This may be the first report in the English language of peyote being referred to as an intoxicant, although the author alludes to the occurrence of an earlier round of correspondence with the editor.

67. Purported “Indian” name for “whiskey root” as given in 1857 The Carolina Spartan, (Spartanburg, SC), 22 October, page 1, and many other papers during 1857 and 1858.

68. Purported “Indian” name for “whiskey root” as given in 1858 Cooper’s Clarksburg Register, (Clarksberg, WV), 7 May, page 1; 1858 Sunbury American, (Sunbury, PA), 24 April, page 4 & 1858 The Abbeville Banner, 4 March, page 4.

69. Name given in 1909 The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 May, page 3.

70. Mis-spelling appearing in Lewin 1888 and persisting into the modern Parke, Davis & Co., company archives.

71. Spelling appearing, in Polish, in Łyko & Piątkowska-Chmiel 2020.

     72. Name appearing in Lophophora williamsii entry at

73. Attributed to Chiricahua in Slotkin 1955. Slotkin expresses some doubt if the Chiricahua were a correct attribution for the word hooshe. This information was derived from JH Jones 1899 A condensed history of the Apache and Comanche Indian Tribes.  A contemporary informant names H. Hoijer told him xos meant primarily thorn or cactus but had a secondary meaning of peyote.

74. South Texas circa 1857. Letter to editor of New Orleans Picayune from “The Colonel” in 1857.

75. Said to be called wokewave on the Comanche, Kiowa and Wichita reservation but opium buttons was the name preferred by Clark. Clark 1888. 


Common names were collected from many sources, the list above being far from complete. Most are included by Schultes 1937b. Some are simply different spellings (orthographic renderings) of the same name given by people from different linguistic backgrounds. Names with no reference given were encountered in multiple sources and usually had no locale of usage attributed to them (most are English or Spanish).

Peyote is the name that is most frequently used by tribes in the United States and by some in Mexico. Its origin is not clear and various explanations have been proposed. (See Schultes 1937b above, LaBarre 1989 and Anderson 1980 for good discussions. Peiotl is the name used by Fr. Bernadino de Sahagún when describing its use by the Mexican Chichimeca Indians in 1560.

Erronous names were a result of confusion with morning-glory, psilocybin mushrooms or, in the very first example (the “Bad Seed”), possibly Datura.

Atropa belladonna fruit is also called “Moon” (or “Moon pods”) in street vernacular and it is unclear if this drug parlance misnomer is a result of a similar state of confusion or if it is in reference to peyote’s association with moon rites. During the 1970s I encountered ground Datura stramonium seeds being sold ‘on the street’ as dried peyote [Note 11]. Sacramental drugs do not belong in the black-market.

Names equating peyote with alcohol or other drugs are usually derogatory and were generally coined by opponents who were ignorant concerning its actual effects and/or had specific depreciatory intent associated with the promotion of prohibition or drug law activities.

 A number of names appear at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center 2008 as purported street names for peyote: Bad seed, Britton, Half moon, Hikori, Hikuli, Hyatari, Nubs, P, Seni, Tops, Topi. I have to wonder just how widely peyote has actually been available as a street drug under some of those names.


Other names encountered in connection with Peyote

Chiculi hualala saeliami: Said by A.V. Frič to be the name used by the Tarahumara for the rare red flowered peyote he encountered in the Sierra Bola, near San Pedro, Coahuila. [Believed to be the same population of plants that were much later named Lophophora fricii]. Frič believed this plant was what had been referred to as “Híkuli walula saelíame” which would be interesting if true since it seems likely to be inactive to sedative if it was actually ever ingested.

 Ear-eating: Said by LaBarre to be a term used by some Anadarko Delaware for peyote eating.

 Grandfather or Grandfather Peyote: Sometimes used to speak in reverence of the plant. Often used to refer to a large consecrated peyote that is kept in a prominent and sacred place during the peyote ceremony (frequently referred to as the ‘chief peyote ’ or the ‘peyote chief‘.) Normally it is never eaten. So far, only one reference has been encountered to them actually being eaten. This was in an African-American peyote church that once existed. [see Smith 1934.] Stewart 1987 includes Voget’s mention of a Montana Crow stating that he thought the Chief Peyote could be eaten but did not know of any instance when it was.

Hogimá: A Shawnee name for the “peyote chief” (a special button or plant which is used in ceremony, also as a fetish or for power acquisition but rarely if ever eaten.)

Hatzimouika: Huichol tutelary deity for peyote (female).

Híkuli walúla sälíami: Hikuli of great authority. An especially large peyote surrounded by smaller plants, viewed by the Tarahumari as its servants. Special reverence is paid to these plants in deference to their peyote deity (male). [see Lumholtz 1902] Possibly the same as Thord-Grey’s Hi-kuri waru-ra seriame. Said to be the most powerful peyote and to grow buttons up to 12 inches in diameter. Thord-Grey suspected it was a mythical plant.

Hi-kuri owa-me: “Peyote medicine” peyote prepared as drink by Tarahumara shaman [Thord-Grey], owa-me is the Tarahumara word meaning “medicine”

Hi-kuri waname: [Thord-Grey], [Also given as Híkuli wanaméThe Superior Peyote” by later authors] Tarahumara name thought to refer to an especially powerful peyote but it is also thought by others to refer to a Mammillaria or another cacti. [also encountered as Híkuli houanamé; Híkurí-íkuríwa is thought to mean the same.]

Hi-kuri wikara-re: Peyote song (Tarahumara)

Mother Hurimoa: Thought to refer to the Cora peyote goddess.

Seimayi: Kiowa peyote goddess (meaning “Peyote woman”)

Rhaïtoumuanitarihua-hicouri: Huichol differentiation of one of two “kinds” of peyote; this one is thought to have less physiological effects. Meaning “Peyotl of the Goddesses

Tzinouritehua-hicouri: Huichol differentiation of one of two “kinds” of peyote; this one is thought to be more active and more bitter. Meaning “Peyotl of the Gods

According to Aberle the following three Navajo terms are used in ceremonies to refer to the peyote:

ni’iln’íí’ sizínii “that which stands in the middle of the earth”

yak’ashbąąh doo bínii ’ohí “nothing is hidden from it from horizon to horizon”

nihook’eh doo bínii’oh “nothing is hidden from it (even) in a storage crypt”


Numerous other plants are also called peyote or by the local native name used for peyote. Some are cacti but many are not. None are known to be hallucinogenic but many are toxic. Not all are active or even used by people for any purpose.
Good discussions or a listing: See Bye 1979, Bruhn 1973, Bruhn & Bruhn 1973, Ott 1993, LaBarre 1989, Ochoterena 1926, Rätsch 1998, Schultes 1937a & 1937b, Slotkin 1955 & Smith 1998/2000.

Many other cacti are equated with peyote or held in similarly high regard. None are known to contain proven hallucinogenic substances unless at exceedingly trace levels. See Bye 1979, Bruhn 1973, Bruhn & Bruhn 1973, LaBarre 1989, Schultes & Hofmann 1980, Smith 1998 & 2000, & Trout Cactus Chemistry By Species 2014 Light for ethnobotanical information on other cactus species thought to be potentially active.

Mescal [Note 13]  is a distilled drink prepared from the sap of some Agave species. It arises from the Náhuatl word Mexcalli; for the cooked Agave which is used to make the alcoholic drinks pulque since early times and was distilled into mescal after the Spanish invasion. Mescal buttons as used for peyote arises from early confusion of the effects of peyote with that of alcohol. The word mescal has most often been used in reference to the cooked agave hearts which are eaten as a food.

As Ott 1993 points out, in Europe they certainly had nothing else they could describe it in terms of, and many of the early common names used equated its action with alcohol, such as ‘Dry whisky’, ‘Whisky cactus’, ‘Whiskey root’ or ‘White mule’, a post Civil War name for the plant, which Ott mentions refers to ‘moonshine’ or home-made liquor [Note 14]. Similarly, Rauh’s word: ‘Schnapskopf’ means ‘liquor head’.

Schultes 1937b accurately points out that many native users resent the use of the name mescal, as the associations with alcohol and its attendent evils are totally inaccurate. He also mentions that most of peyote’s opponents have objected to its use due to a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of its effects based on the mistaken presumption that they were similar to alcohol. [Similarly have been presented, by its opponents, the absurd notions that it was variously marijuana, cocaine or opium-like. Sometimes, as was the case with alcohol earlier, this arises from a “tastes-like-chicken” phenomenon when someone is trying to describe something lacking any frame of familiar reference by its comparison with their closest known experience. However, in these cases, this is often chosen with deliberate pejorative or dismissive intent as the intended audience is typically programmed to respond in predictable ways to words like “morphine,” “opium”, “dope” and “hashish”. 

It should be suspected that use of the name “LSD cactus” was intended to similarly cast undeservedly perjorative connotations by linking the cactus to the wild oversensationalism and demonification of LSD by the press. Whoever coined the word obviously had no experience with either peyote or LSD.

Mescaline is ‘LSD-like’ only in the same sense that beer is ‘whisky-like’ or opium is ‘heroin-like’; perhaps even less so. While there may be some underlying truth on a generalized and superficial level, this is a deliberate mischaracterization certain to cause a gross misunderstanding of its effects by the uninitiated.



Acacia species with data conflicts

Brush country in South Texas

Brush country on the Bordas Escarpment in Jim Hogg County, Texas
A. berlandieri is on the front left, and beyond, with A. rigidula on right

Questions & comments concerning the analysis of Acacia berlandieri & Acacia rigidula

(Senegalia) berlandieri (description & illustrations)
Acacia (Vachellia) rigidula (description & illustrations)

In 1997, and then again in 1998, some almost unbelievable news rippled awkwardly through the world of plant science. Methamphetamine had just been reported from two abundant Acacia species that were already well-known for producing alkaloids involved with livestock problems.
The new information was then echoed far more loudly and unquestioningly through the counterculture, and in a flurry of news reports, and by the indexers & assemblers of the various reference databases on phytochemicals and naturally occurring compounds. It soon began appearing in works on toxicology, plant chemistry and drug issues. [A very few examples: T. Garland & A.C. Barr (eds.) 1998 Toxic Plants and Other Natural Toxicants (with a chapter by Clement & Forbes), ‪G.E. Burrows‬ & ‪R.J. Tyrl‬ 2012 ‪Toxic Plants of North America‬, E. Eich 2008 Solanaceae and Convolvulceae: Secondary Metabolites, J.M. Hagel et al. 2012 Trends in Plant Science, 17 (7): 404-412, “Biosynthesis of amphetamine analogs in plants”, G.H. Rassool 2009 Alcohol and Drug Misuse, & ‪T.R. Kosten‬ 2012 Cocaine and Methamphetamine Dependence.]
Questions and conversations also rapidly proliferated in online discussions among people interested in drug abuse – both those with interests in its prevention and those who were interested in learning more about the possible potentials for human ingestion of the ‘new’ drug plants.
In the case of Acacia rigidula, this report also fueled a minor explosion of commercial weight-loss products that included this plant, at least in the list of ingredients on their label.

What made the news even more astonishing was that it was not just meth that was reported to be in those Acacia leaves, but also amphetamine and a handful of synthetic substituted amphetamines never before been observed in nature.
Other novelties making their first appearance as purportedly natural Acacia phytochemicals included a patented & FDA approved pharmaceutical, the tricyclic antidepressant Nortriptyline, and a putative neurotoxic agent, the synthetic fragrance molecule Musk ambrette.
They were further described to be accompanied by an almost bewildering array of amines. For some of the familiar alkaloids this marked their first report outside of the family Cactaceae. That included mescaline, trichocereine and four isoquinolines. All of which were reported to occur along with dopamine, candicine, dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and nicotine as part of the nearly four dozen compounds that were said to have been identified in the two Acacia species.
Simple phenethylamines, DMT and nicotine are well known from other Acacia species but the crazy pharmacological cocktail that was conjured in people’s minds by those two reports certainly stirred up a bit of attention from both the peanut gallery and from assorted professional interests.
See Endnote A at the bottom of this page for some search result numbers.

In a conversation occurring a year or so after the second publication had occurred, Sasha Shulgin questioned the soundness of my inclusion of the information in the 1999 printing of Cactus Chemistry By Species. Sasha brought to my attention some odd discrepancies concerning those two accounts by Clement. The first and most concerning to Sasha, despite repeated efforts apparently none of the authors had responded to his contact attempts. In Sasha’s experience, the failure of any professional researcher to respond to questions from one of their peers was a warning sign that problems existed for the report. Organic chemists typically welcome interest in their work being expressed by other organic chemists.

Sasha further claimed to have noticed that not all the novel compounds that their two papers purported were synthesized as reference materials have a published synthesis. Interest in learning more details about the synthetic work was Sasha’s reason for his contact attempts. He eventually went on to dismiss the results of both papers entirely, and in an online Q&A column Sasha joked that dirty, perhaps recycled, laboratory glassware might be a possible although unlikely culprit; “even in Texas“.
(See Dear Dr. Shulgin [] for his exact comments made in 2001.)

More recent work resulting from interest by the FDA, published in Pawar et al. 2014, was unable to detect the presence of mescaline, mescaline derivatives or any of the purported amphetamines and isoquinolines. With only the exception of tryptamine & one of the four samples of bark showing a trace of N-methyltryptamine (neither of which are surprising for an Acacia species) none of the novelties reported by Clement were observed.
It did largely support the prior analytical work in the handful of papers previously published by Adams, Camp and coworkers but deviated by not finding N-methylphenethylamine to be the major alkaloid in any of their samples. Pawar found it to be lacking in half of their samples and present only as trace amounts in the other two.

The novel results in Clement’s accounts still need replication by someone.

Dr. Clement has commented about being unaware of any controversy or questions existing about their work but this appears to be in conflict with two professional workers (Dr. Shulgin & Dr. Terry) who voiced comments to me about their experiences with Dr. Clement while they were still trying to learn answers for the questions they noticed. It is worth carefully reading the words appearing in the various published accounts.

In 2013, an interview with Dr. Clement appeared, in which she defended their reported data and described the elaborate precautions that were said to be necessary in order to produce the same results. (Such as performing the extraction and solvent removal using the protection of an argon blanket.)

To be fair to Dr. Clement, it is noteable that no one at FDA actually tried to replicate her work rather than apparently rejecting the precautions taken to prevent degradation as being unnecessary. I may agree with the *conclusions* of her critics but I would also suggest that, thus far, no one can legitimately claim that anyone actually attempted to replicate what was reported in Clement et al. 1997 and 1998. For the most part, Clement began by extracting fresh (1997) and fresh and still frozen (1998) plant materials, whereas Pawar et al 2014 freeze-dried their fresh plant samples. (Clement had used freeze-drying of fresh frozen leaves for quantification of N-methylphenethylamine.) Pawar also omitted the use of argon which Clement presented as important to prevent degradation of alkaloids. However, Pawar’s interest was not an academic one trying to reproduce Clement’s results but rather was the result of FDA interest and was focused on establishing what compounds were in the diet products they also tested — and whether those contents came from this plant. Their point of study really had no reason to respect the concerns voiced about the degradation of alkaloid content. And to be fair to her critics, Clement did not describe the needs for such protection within her two accounts with nearly the same amount of details as she did within that 2013 interview. (The pertinent comments from those papers as concerns argon can be found quoted farther below.)

In that interview (if you have not already done so, you might want to read it before continuing) there are a number of things the careful reader might notice are peculiar for sake of not being mentioned at all, such as their discovery of a wealth of novel Acacia alkaloids.
There are also some words included in that interview that are worth noticing (and worth comparing to the published details):

“The early season guajillo was unremarkable to Clement and her team. “The extraction was clean (bright green extract, easily partitioned with acid and base extraction),” Clement reported. “The analysis was relatively straightforward; we found terpenes, a few simple phenols and scant traces of β-phenethylamine, but no detectable N-methyl-β-phenethylamine, which had previously been reported.” However, work on late season guajillo was a different story. “The initial methanol extract was a very dark green, almost black color,” she noted, adding the team realized these extracts had to be handled much more carefully due to extreme vulnerability to degradation. “After we began using an argon blanket, this degradation was no longer a problem; argon is a much more forgiving inert atmosphere than nitrogen.” The end result was positive identification of N-methyl-β-phenethylamine; N,N-dimethyl-β-phenethylamine; and tyramine in these fractions.”
INSIDER, November 26, 2013 written by Steve Myers.
Online at
  (Accessed on 17 May 2014; still online in January 2015)

Compare those comments to their published results shown in the tables below. In particular, compare what was highlighted in bold (by me) in the text above & in the tables below. Also, compare her words above about the need for argon to the published comments farther below under Clement et al. 1997, Clement et al. 1998, Clement & Forbes 1998, & Clement 2013.

Acacia berlandieri Bentham (these results should be questioned)

Compound Spring Late fall
(all via gc-ms) ppm ppm
Phenethylamine 991.3 1390.0
N-Methylphenethylamine 1702.7 3742.2
N,N-Dimethylphenethylamine 99.1 604.4
N,N,N-Trimethylphenethylammonium hydroxide* nd 23.6
Amphetamine 3.1 10.1
Methamphetamine 20.1 11.5
N,N-Dimethyl-α-methylphenethylamine 45.6 229.7
p-Hydroxyamphetamine 8.0 7.3
p-Methoxyamphetamine nd 35.7
Tyramine 367.2 1263.4
N-Methyltyramine 188.5 745.7
Hordenine 9.2 333.1
Candicine* nd 35.1
Dopamine 3.6 25.3
N-Methyldopamine 1.9 10.8
N,N-Dimethyldopamine nd nd
3-Methoxytyramine 2.6 15.3
Mescaline 4.9 35.7
N-Methylmescaline 3.2 30.2
Trichocereine nd 28.1
3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenethyl-N,N,N-trimethylammonium hydroxide* nd 13.2
3,5-Dimethoxytyramine 2.7 43.4
3,4-Dimethoxy-5-hydroxyphenethylamine 11.4 40.9
β-Methoxy-3,4-dihydroxy-5-methoxyphenethylamine nd 30.2
3,4-Dimethoxy-α-methyl-5-hydroxyphenethylamine 2.0 47.2
Nicotine 39.6 108.3
Nornicotine 19.2 72.5
Anhalamine 4.9 39.6
Anhalidine (N-Methylanhalamine) 2.9 40.9
Anhalonidine 2.7 46.8
Mimosine, methyl ester 10.6 24.2
3α-Cumyl-1,3,4-oxadiazolidine-2,5-dione 308.4 420.9
Nortriptyline 19.8 71.5
Musk ambrette 26.5 27.3

Clement et al. 1997

Acacia rigidula Bentham (these results should be questioned)

Compound Spring Late Fall
(all via gc-ms) ppm ppm
2-Cyclohexylethylamine 0.8 35.2
N-2-Cyclohexylethyl-N-methylamine 1.2 47.1
Phenethylamine 872.3 1135.7
N-Methylphenethylamine 2314.6 5264.8
N,N-Dimethylphenethylamine 123.6 724.5
Amphetamine 6.7 11.8
Methamphetamine nd 12.4
N,N-Dimethyl-α-methylphenethylamine 57.6 394.2
p-Hydroxyamphetamine 2.1 6.9
p-Methoxyamphetamine nd 15.7
Tyramine 459.1 1699.2
N-Methyltyramine 237.4 1237.6
Hordenine 6.4 533.8
Dopamine 8.9 36.1
N-Methyldopamine 0.5 8.2
N,N-Dimethyldopamine 11.2 44.6
3-Methoxytryamine 1.8 12.9
N-Methyl-3-methoxytyramine 3.4 28.4
3-Hydroxy-4-methoxyphenethylamine 15.8 163.2
N-Methyl-3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenethylamine 19.2 184.7
3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine 1.3 6.5
N-Methyl-3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine 7.6 28.3
3,4,5-Trihydroxyphenethylamine 1.6 12.4
N-Methyl-3,4,5-trihydroxyphenethylamine 0.3 1.9
Mescaline 3.4 27.5
N-Methylmescaline 1.8 35.3
Trichocereine 0.2 13.8
3,5-Dimethoxytyramine 1.6 21.6
3,4-Dimethoxy-5-hydroxyphenethylamine 15.6 57.1
β-Methoxy-3,4-dihydroxy-5-methoxyphenethylamine 4.6 22.1
3,4-Dimethoxy-α-methyl-5-hydroxyphenethylamine 5.3 61.4
Nicotine 45.8 152.4
Nornicotine 23.4 84.3
Tryptamine 0.8 21.2
N-Methyltryptamine 4.6 54.9
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine 323.8 568.4
Anhalamine 9.6 48.7
Anhalidine (N-Methylanhalamine) 5.6 51.2
Anhalonidine 2.3 15.7
Peyophorine 3.8 43.4
Pipecolamide 872.8 978.2
p-Hydroxypipecolamide 241.6 353.1
1,4-Benzenediamine 104.8 129.6
4-Methyl-2-pyridinamine 341.5 567.3

Clement et al. 1998

This was the statement that had caught Sasha’s attention:
“[…] mass spectral library and the NBS mass spectral library of standards. Preliminary identification was made by library comparison, final identification was made by direct spectral comparison with the spectra of an authentic sample obtained from the GC-MS. Authentic samples were either purchased or prepared by known chemical procedures. “

In the INSIDER interview mentioned above, Dr. Clement affirmed synthesizing their samples due to distrusting reliance on published spectra alone.

What has always seemed the most peculiar to me about these two papers was not simply the wealth of never-before (or since) reported natural compounds or the appearance of so many known alkaloids that were novel to the Acacia species, but the authors’ apparent lack of interest in making further comment about any of their myriad of new discoveries or publishing any additional papers about those finds. Or conducting further work on their discoveries. Even if encountering only Nortriptyline, that alone would have generated a paper for most natural products chemists. The discovery of the previously known cactus alkaloids and a patented pharmaceutical in a common forage plant would both seem to merit  at least some additional words in print.  As Sasha similarly commented, “What caught my curiosity immediately was the casual indifference shown to what is certainly an extraordinary discovery.”

While it seems baffling for all of the authors to say so little about their new discoveries in those two papers, they also subsequently appeared to lose all interest in anything but the previously and routinely reported phenethylamines. I’m only aware of a couple of reiterations from Clement & Forbes where mescaline and/or amphetamines were even mentioned (both in 1998) and one oblique allusion to amphetamines was made in the form of a reference to potentially reduced MAOI activity in animals ingesting guajillo.
I can thusfar locate only one peer review publication appearing after 1998 that included one or the other as a contributing author which made any comment or reference at all about the ‘new’ alkaloids. That being Windels et al. 2003 which said of Clement et al. 1997: “More than 33 amines and alkaloids have been isolated from guajillo, with tyramine and NMP comprising 40-45% of total amine concentrations in spring and late fall” and made reference to the “many secondary plant chemicals” mentioned in the earlier account.
Among the other pertinent appearances of this information was its inclusion in a chapter contributed by Clement & Forbes to the 1998 Toxic Plants and Other Natural Toxicants edited by Tam Garland & A. Catherine Barr. In what is essentially an overview of the work published in 1997 and 1998 with additional commentary, an unexplained and largely overlooked modification is made to a comment they had published in Phytochemistry, “Smith (1977) does not report the presence of amphetamines in any plant family, and they are unlikely to be natural products.” [Bold emphasis added by me. See Endnote B on this page.] Compare that to the variant wording in Clement et al. 1998.

 All that is totally clear is that the analytical accounts concerning Clement & coworker’s analysis of Acacia berlandieri and Acacia rigidula need more transparency and would benefit from a single accounting or overview that is lacking internal data conflicts or at least clarifies their origin and meaning. If they suspected that artifacts arising in gc-ms were involved it would be nice for that to be more widely understood as their research is still being cited as actually finding what was reported.

It may be illuminating to compare the assorted details that have been published by the series of workers who have analyzed these two species of Acacia. A brief overview of the pertinent documents in that body of work is below (along with notes listing my known reference literature deficits). Those mentioning Acacia berlandieri are presented first, followed by Acacia rigidula. They are listed in the chronological order of their appearance. I am still missing some papers which have been noted and am additionally missing several papers that have not been noted. Whatever of that material actually merits inclusion here will be used to update this page after it comes to hand.

Published analytical accounts for Acacia berlandieri.

Camp 1956 was Bennie J. Camp’s dissertation at Texas A&M University in which he isolated what was believed to be the causative agent of limberleg, determined its structure through physical rather than spectral means, proving it through synthesis and the evaluation of the pharmacology and toxicity of the synthetic when compared to the natural compound.
Leaf material collected in the Del Rio area was determined to contain N-Methylphenethylamine at 0.54% by dry weight.

Camp & Lyman 1956 was the first peer-reviewed publication that reported the presence of N-Methylphenethylamine in Acacia berlandieri.

Camp & Lyman 1957 reported the recovery of 0.5% of N-Methylphenethylamine by dry weight and published a synthetic approach.

Camp & Moore 1960 published a synthesis for N-Methylphenethylamine and a quantitative assay.
They also looked at potential seasonal fluctuations in the total amine content of Acacia berlandieri (using leaves collected during 1958):

May 0.66%
June 0.46%
July 0.42%
August 0.46%
September 0.28%
October 0.46%

Camp et al. 1964 reported N-Methylphenethylamine in Acacia berlandieri along with two additional alkaloids:
Tyramine & N-Methyltyramine.

Adam & Camp 1966 also isolated alkaloids from Acacia berlandieri.
These workers noted that sheep and goats may ingest this plant exclusively for 6-12 months before developing guajillo wobbles or limberleg. As long as it is not the exclusive food for prolonged periods involving drought, this is considered an important browsing material for both wild deer and domestic livestock. When the poisoning does occur, the fatalities rates are typically very high. See comment under Lupton below.
They reported:

Hordenine (trace) [A comment was made that hordenine could only be identified after being isolated and could not be detected when in combination with the other alkaloids, due to its low concentration.]

Enzman 1968 was simply a review summarizing the results of Adams & Camp 1966 and Camp & Lyman 1956; adding some previously published identification criteria for their reported alkaloids (gleaned from elsewhere in the literature).

Evans et al. 1969 has been cited as a source investigating the seeds but did not evaluate this species. Acacia berlandieri was mentioned by Evans only briefly and in passing during the discussion of prior work reporting N-methyltyramine from Acacia species.

I have not yet obtained Forbes 1991.

Pemberton et al. 1993 was an account of an isolation approach for assaying Acacia berlandieri. Using plants collected in Zavala County, they reported Tyramine (1.71-1.94 mg per gm dry weight), N-Methylphenethylamine (0.24-0.27 mg per gm dry weight) and what they believed to be N-methyltyramine (3.01-3.28 mg per gm dry weight). They were unable to confirm their identification of N-methyltyramine due to lacking a reference standard for comparison but believed the identification was accurate.

Forbes et al. 1995 studied alkaloid levels over a period of months and attempted to correlate the levels of Tyramine and N-Methylphenethylamine with factors such as date of harvest, age of growth and rainfall. They could not observe any meaningful differences to be closely correlated with rainfall or season of harvest but reported that there was a significant increase in the alkaloids levels of both alkaloids contained in young regrowth.

A pertinent non-analytic observation on guajillo toxicity:

Lupton et al. 1996 compared mohair production in two herds of goats; one in South Texas and one on the Edwards Plateau. Following dry years, when the alkaloid level in guajillo would be anticipated to peak, the South Texas population lost a significant number of animals; far more than did those on the Edwards Plateau. Both herds began with 100 animals. By the end of the five-year study only 45 goats were still alive in the South Texas group with 41 of the 55 deaths occurring between February 1988 and August 1989.

Clement et al. 1997:
The reported results are presented in a table above.
The use of an inert atmosphere (argon) is mentioned twice in this paper.
1) “Particular care was taken to maintain the extracts and isolated under an inert atmosphere. Left unprotected, the isolated amines and alkaloids readily absorbed atmospheric CO2 and decomposed with significant polymerization being detected.”
2) “A pilot study established that the extracts could be safely concd by rotary evapn (H2O aspirator). […] These organic extracts were combined, dried with MgSO4, filtered, concd under vacuum, and stored under argon prior to analysis by GC-MS.”
The reference standard source is given as:
Authentic samples were either purchased or prepd by known chemical procedures.”
Their report of mescaline, mescaline derivatives and the previously known cactus isoquinolines was mentioned almost casually in passing. Curiously the presence of mescaline is never noted to be a novel observation outside of the Cactaceae or for the genus Acacia but there is one comment made concerning the amphetamines. “To our knowledge this is the first report of amphetamines in the genus Acacia. Smith (1o) in his review of the phenethylamines does not report the presence of amphetamines in any plant family. ” Compare that to a partially similar quote drawn from Clement & Forbes 1998. [See Note B]

Forbes & Clement 1998 overviews the same material from Clement et al. 1997 (combined with Clement et al. 1998).

Clement & Forbes 1998 does as well but, in one particular comment, leaves off a sentence and adds a few more words. “Smith (1977) does not report the presence of amphetamines in any plant family, and they are unlikely to be natural products.” The comment, like so much else in this story, is left unexplained.

Siegler et al. 1986 investigated polyphenolic and other tannins in terms of content and composition.

Windels et al. 2003 evaluated the amine concentration in regrowth resulting from a practice known as aeration in which the above ground parts of the plant are damaged with large nobby mechanical rollers. N-Methylphenethylamine increased in the leaves on regrowth following aeration and did so more on leaves from juveniles stems than on mature stems. Tyramine was not correlated with aeration but showed dynamic changes during the study period. There is one strange comment included considering that Forbes was a coauthor: “The relative costs and benefits to an animal of mechanically treating guajillo will not be clear until nitrogen in mature and regrowth guajillo is fully characterized and more is known about the toxicity of guajillo’s many secondary plant chemicals (Clement et al. 1997).”

There are two reasons that comment seems strange to me:
1) Much actually IS known about the pharmacology, toxicity and mechanisms of action for almost all of those compounds that Clement listed, the majority are very familiar and pharmacologically studied,
2) Apparently no work on that subject was ongoing during the six years in between those two papers (and none since that time) leading me to wonder what vehicle was envisioned as possibly adding more understanding. In what subsequent work was done overall the focus has been almost entirely on N-methylphenethylamine with a lesser amount of interest in tyramine. Unless I have missed one or more papers, none of the other of “guajillo’s many secondary plant chemicals (Clement et al. 1997)” saw any  investigation or evaluation of their possible role in guajillo toxicity.

Published analytical accounts for Acacia rigidula:

There have been comparatively fewer looks at A. rigidula.

Camp & Norvell 1966 evaluated a number of additional Acacia species including Acacia rigidula.
They reported Acacia rigidula to contain 0.025% total alkaloid by dry weight and identified:

Evans et al. 1969. Acacia rigidula was mentioned by Evans only in passing in a sentence listing prior reports of N-methyltyramine from Acacia species.

Siegler et al. 1986 analyzed the content and composition of polyphenolic and other tannins in this species.

Clement et al. 1998:
Their reported results are presented in a table above.
As was also the case in 1997, it is curious that their discoveries of amphetamines, mescaline and assorted cactus alkaloids are mentioned rather casually in this paper.
Comments appearing in this paper concerning degradation and the use of argon:
1) “Particular care was taken to maintain the extracts and isolates under an inert atmosphere. Left unprotected, the isolated amines and alkaloids readily decomposed.”
2) Clement describes extracting fresh material starting with it still frozen and extracting continually with methanol for 24 hrs in a soxhlet extrator. After removal of methanol it was extracted another 24 hours with chloroform. “A pilot study established that the extracts could be safely concentrated by rotary evaporation (water aspirator).” After concentration they dissolved the methanol residue in chloroform and extracted their alkaloids with HCl. After neutralization they extracted using chloroform followed by ethyl acetate. “These organic extracts were combined, dried with MgSO4, filtered, concentrated under vacuum, and stored under argon prior to analysis by GC-MS.”
There are two more instances when argon is mentioned in this paper. One was when performing an aqueous acidic etraction that was said to have been “stirred under argon at 60° overnight” with the additional comment “The organic extracts were combined, dried over MgSO4, filtered, concentrated under vacuum, and stored under argon prior to analysis by GC-MS.”
Comments made in this paper concerning their identifications and use of reference standards:
Quantification of the levels of each compound was based upon standard curves generated with authentic samples.”
Preliminary identification was made by library comparison, final identification was made by direct spectral comparison with the spectra of an authentic sample obtained from the GC-MS. Authentic samples were either purchased or prepared by known chemical procedures.”
One other comment is worth noting as it is one of the only bits about the novelties in this paper that are referred to again in a later work:
However the presence of the amphetamines suggests the possibility for a reduction of monoamine oxidase activity.

Forbes & Clement 1998 overviews the same material as in Clement et al. (1997 &) 1998. 

Clement & Forbes 1998 also overviews Clement et al. 1997 & 1998 but adds a small bit of discussion expressing doubt about some pertinent parts of their results.

Pawar et al. 2010 was an abstract of a conference presentation discussing their intended work and did not include any details about the alkaloid composition.

Pawar et al. 2014 analyzed dried samples of Acacia rigidula leaves, twigs and bark, as well as assorted dietary supplements that were said to contain it.

Pawar’s samples:
Val Verde County – collection November 2009 (by M. Eason)

Tyramine, Tryptamine and Phenethylamine.
Starr County – collection February 2012 (by M. Eason)

Tyramine, Tryptamine, Phenethylamine, traces of N-Methylphenethylamine.
Maverick County – collection February 2012 (by M. Eason)

Tyramine, Tryptamine, Phenethylamine, traces of N-Methylphenethylamine and traces of N-Methyl-tyramine.
Hidalgo County – collection September 2009 (purchased dried)

Tyramine, Tryptamine and Phenethylamine.

Pawar reported the positive detection of N-Me-PEA (below their threshold for quantification) in two samples and found no evidence for it in the other two samples.

During her 2013 interview with INSIDER, Dr. Clement made the following comments about the use of argon during their investigations.
Clement explained the leaves were extracted using a soxhlet extraction system employing methanol as the extraction solvent. “Because of prior experience with the guajillo extractions, the soxhlet was purged with argon to minimize exposure to ‘air.’  Following extraction, the extract was concentrated on a rotary evaporator (vacuum released to argon again to minimize exposure to ‘air’).  The residue was dissolved in dichloromethane and extracted with 10-percent HCl—it was not as critical at this point to keep the acidic extract under argon to prevent side reactions. The HCl extracts were combined, neutralized with NaOH and extracted with dichloromethane (argon blanket again necessary). We had tested the extraction and neutralization procedure with tyramine to make certain that the conditions allowed recovery of this phenolic amine and related material.” She further noted the extracts were combined, concentrated and kept under argon in the freezer until analysis with GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.)
In their actual papers in 1997 and 1998, only the use of chloroform was described. Dichloromethane (CH2Cl2) was not mentioned in either account.

Pure alkaloids evaluated for contributions to reproductive harm:

Completion of this entry will be forthcoming, but has been delayed pending requisite additional literature access.
T.D.A. Forbes was a contributing author on all seven papers below.
Carpenter et al. 1992 & 1994
Forbes et al. 1991, 1993 & 1994
Vera-Avila et al. 1996 & 1997

Pharmacological activity of N-methyl-β-phenethylamine:

Camp 1970 (I do not yet have)
Stohs & Hartman 2014 (a review of the published literature — available online as a free PDF:


While we cannot know what exactly occurred in Dr. Clement’s lab it is clear that her published results claiming the presence of amphetamines in these Acacia species are not valid. This should be considered to be true for the other novelties in both papers including the wealth of cactus alkaloids.
All of those require confirmation through replication by someone and it is doubtful that can be accomplished.

Published references used or wanted:

Papers that I have not yet obtained are noted and came from the FDA toxic plant database or were cited by Camp or Forbes.

Adams, Herman R. & Bennie J. Camp (1966) Toxicon, 4: 85–90. “The Isolation and Identification of Three Alkaloids from Acacia berlandieri.”

Camp, Bennie J. (1956) PhD dissertation, Texas A&M University, “The alkaloid of Acacia berlandieri, N-Methyl-β-phenylethylamine.”

Camp, Bennie J. (1970) American Journal of Veterinary Research, 31 (4): 755–762, “Action of N-methyltyramine and N-methyl-beta-phenylethylamine on certain biological systems.” [Have not yet obtained a copy.]

Camp, Bennie J. & Carl M. Lyman (1956) Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, Scientific Edition, 45 (11): 719–721. “The Isolation of N-Methyl beta-Phenethylamine from Acacia berlandieri.”

Camp, Bennie J. & Carl M. Lyman (1957) The Southwestern Veterinarian, 10: 133–134. “The Toxic Agent Isolated from Acacia Berlandieri, N-Methyl beta-Phenylethylamine. “

Camp, Bennie J. & Joan A. Moore (1960) Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, Scientific Edition, 49 (3): 158–160. “A Quantitative Method for the Alkaloid of Acacia berlandieri.”

Camp, Bennie J. & Michael J. Norvell (1966) Economic Botany, 20 (3): 274–278. “The Phenylethylamine Alkaloids of Native Range Plants.”

Camp et al. (1964) Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 111 (2): 744–750. “The Chemistry of the Toxic Constituents of Acacia berlandieri.” (Bennie J. Camp, Ray Adams & J.W. Dollahite)

Carpenter, B.B. et al. (1993) Journal of Animal Science, 71 (Suppl. 1): 208. “Sympathomimetic compounds present in Acacia berlandieri alter ACTH, cortisol, norepinephrine and GnRH-induced LH release in wethers.” (B.B. Carpenter, T.D.A. Forbes, D.R. Tolleson & R.D. Randel) [Have not yet obtained a copy.]

Clement, Beverly A & T. David A. Forbes (1998) Toxic amines and alkaloids from Texas acacias, pages 351–355, (Chapter 69) in Toxic Plants and Other Natural Toxicants edited by Tam Garland & A. Catherine Barr.

Clement, B.A. et al. (1997) Phytochemistry, 46 (2): 249–254. “Toxic Amines and Alkaloids From Acacia berlandieri.” (Beverly A. Clement, Christina M. Goff & David A. Forbes)

Clement, B.A. et al. (1998) Phytochemistry, 49 (5): 1377–1380. “Toxic Amines and Alkaloids From Acacia rigidula.” (Beverly A. Clement, Christina M. Goff & T. David A. Forbes)

Enzman, F. (1968) Fresenius Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 237 (6): 440–441, “Über die Isolierung und Identifizierung von drei weiteren Alkaloiden aus Acacia berlandieri (Guagillo).”

Evans, C.S. et al. (1979) Phytochemistry, 18: 2022–2023. “N-methyltyramine, a biologically active amine in Acacia seeds.” (Christine S. Evans, E. Arthur Bell & E. Stewart Johnson) [This paper only mentions our two species.]

Forbes, T.D.A. et al. (1991) PR (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station) Oct 1991. (4875) pp. 22–25, “Seasonal production of phenolic amines by Acacia berlandieri.” (T.D.A. Forbes, I.J. Pemberton, G.R. Smith, C.M. Hensarling & D.R. Tolleson) [Have not yet obtained a copy.] (Note: D.G. Tolleson, appearing in reference listings, is incorrect.)

Forbes, T.D.A. et al. (1993) South African Journal of Animal Science, 23: 196–200. “Effects of exogenous amines on reproduction in female angora goats.” (T.D.A. Forbes, D.R. Tolleson, C.M. Hensarling & R.D. Randel) [Have not yet obtained a copy.]

Forbes, T.D.A. et al. (1994) Journal of Animal Science, 72: 464–469. “Effects of N-methyl-(beta)-phenethylamine on GnRH stimulated luteinizing hormone release and plasma catecholamine concentrations in wethers.” (T.D.A. Forbes, B.B. Carpenter, D.R. Tolleson & R.D. Randel)

Forbes, T.D.A. et al (1995) Journal of arid environments, 30 (4): 403–415, “Seasonal variation of two phenolic amines in Acacia berlandieri.” (T.D.A. Forbes, I.J. Pemberton, G.R. Smith & C.M. Hensarling)

Forbes, T.D.A. & B.A. Clement (1998) Bottom Line, Texas A&M University, Uvalde, BL-R8, “Chemistry of Acacia‘s from South Texas.”  (Essentially a short summary of Clement et al. 1997 & 1998.)

Pawar, R.S. et al. (2010) Planta Medica, 76 (5): P54, “Phytochemical Investigation of Acacia rigidula Leaf.”  (R.S. Pawar, E. Grundel, E. Mazzola, M. Eason, A.J. Krynitsky & J.I. Rader)

Pawar, R.S. et al. (2014) Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 88: 457–466. “Determination of selected biogenic amines in Acacia rigidula plant materials and dietary supplements using LC–MS/MS methods.” (Rahul S. Pawar, Erich Grundel, Ali Reza Fardin-Kia & Jeanne I. Rader)

Pemberton, I.J. et al. (1993) Journal of Animal Science, 71 (2): 467–470, “Technical note: an improved method for extraction and quantification of toxic phenethylamines from Acacia berlandieri.” (I.J. Pemberton, G.R. Smith, T.D.A. Forbes & C.M. Hensarling)

Price, D.A. & W.T. Hardy (1953). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 122: 223–225. “Guajillo poisoning of sheep.” [Have not yet obtained a copy.]

Shulgin, Alexander T. “Sasha” (2001) Dear Dr. Shulgin, Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, []

Siegler, D.S. et al. (1986) Economic Botany, 40: 220–232. “Tannins from four common Acacia species of Texas and northeastern Mexico.” (D.S. Siegler, S. Seilheimer, J. Keesy & H.F. Huang)

Stohs, Sidney J. & Michael J. Hartman (2014) Phytotherapy Research, “A Review of the Receptor Binding and Pharmacological Effects of N-methyltyramine.” Published online by Wiley; Epub 2014 Oct 2, with no page numbers. []

Vera-Avila, H.R. et al. (1996) Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 13: 285–296. “Plant phenolic amines: potential effects on sympathoadrenal meduallary, hypothalimic-pituitary adrenal, and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal function in ruminants.” (H.R. Vera-Avila, T.D.A. Forbes & R.D. Randel)

Vera-Avila, H.R. et al. (1997) Journal of Animal Science, 75: 1612–1620. “Effect of dietary phenolic amines on testicular function and luteneizing hormone secrection in male Angora goats.” (H.R. Vera-Avila, T.D.A. Forbes, J.G. Berardinelli & R.D. Randel)

Windels, S.K. (1999) M. S. Thesis, Texas A&M University- Kingsville. “Effects of roller-chopping on white-tailed deer nutritional carrying capacity and habitat, and phenolic amine content of guajillo in northeastern Mexico.”

Windels, S.K. et al. (2003) Journal of Range Management, 56: 529–533. “Effects of aeration on phenolic amine content of guajillo.” (Steve K. Windels, David G. Hewitt & T. David A. Forbes)


Endnote A: To suggest the level of interest generated by the accounts from Clement & coworkers, what follows are results from a Google search on 11 January 2015. The listed words below are the terms used for the search followed by the number of hits that resulted. (Many of the following phrases were actually those suggested by Google as another one was being typed.)
The number is the estimated total given on the results page. No effort was made to gauge the percentage of duplicate entries, meaningless hits or bad links.
Nortriptyline found in acacia  1,050,000
methamphetamine found in acacia  874,000
mescaline found in acacia  309,000
mescaline acacia tree 178,000
amphetamine in acacia 122,000
methamphetamine acacia tree 22,000
acacia berlandieri methamphetamine 4,690
acacia berlandieri mescaline 4,740
acacia berlandieri DMT 5,070
acacia berlandieri DMT extraction 2,040 (Google suggested this as I was typing DMT.)
acacia rigidula methamphetamine 6,690
acacia rigidula mescaline 3,680
acacia rigidula DMT 4,770
acacia methamphetamine 48,500
acacia mescaline  35,500

Endnote B: Smith 1977 was largely a simple tabular listing of the phenethylamines reported to occur in plants. While a question might be raised as to why the lack of an entry on Smith’s list would indicate that amphetamines did not occur in plants (absence of evidence is not proof of absence), Smith actually did include the half dozen naturally occurring amphetamines that were known in 1977.
In particular Smith listed norephedrine, cathine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, methylephedrine, & methylpseudoephedrine as variously occurring among 32 plant species. Those included Aconitum napellus, Catha edulis, 25 species of Ephedra, Halostachys caspica, Roemeria refracta, Sida sp, Sida cordifolia, and Taxus baccata.
Ephedrine has also been reported to occur in small amounts in the rhizomes of some Pinellia ternuata, (Oshio et al. 1978).

Those two references:
H. Oshio et al. (1978) Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 26: 2096–2097, “Isolation of l-ephedrine from pinellia tuber.”
T. A. Smith (1977) Phytochemistry, 16: 9–18, “Phenethylamine and related compounds in plants.”

Questions or errors

Known errors, unknowns and questions


The following are some unanswered questions, including concerning a couple of reports about trace amounts, and the assorted known errors that have been encountered in the literature or online mistakenly asserting the presence of mescaline.

There is also a couple of additional cacti included that are in need of some comment concerning questions they present.
These are not discussed in detail within this work (that can be found in Sacred Cacti part C, section 2 Cactus Chemistry By Species [PDF]) but I wanted to create a summary of them here for the convenience of the reader.

Abraham Caycho Jimenez’s claims in particular should be viewed with caution due to his lack of verifiable references and wealth of misspellings.

In this presentation, I have decided to alter what existed in the book Sacred Cacti. The reason being these entries partially overlap with the corresponding species entries in Cactus Chemistry By Species.
As that book is also coming to this webpage in its entirety (and is already online in PDF form) it made more sense to recombine all of the longest examples of those particular entries into a single entry each in Cactus Chemistry By Species. Those will be linked to from this re-edited page that can serve as an illustrated overview. Until that web addition is complete please use the PDF version of that work.

There also is no point in creating a citation list dignifying the wealth of claims asserting variously that either all cacti contain trace amounts of mescaline or else all of the Trichocereus species contain trace amounts of mescaline. That is clearly an erroneous comment, at best.
Only a relatively few cactus species show trace amounts of mescaline, even fewer produce isolatable quantities of mescaline and only a relative few actually contain useable concentrations of mescaline. I have no doubt that more remain to be discovered but right now the cactus species which are known to contain pharmacologically meaningful amounts of mescaline number less than a dozen out of nearly two thousand cactus species. Similarly the number of genera presently known to have members which are capable of producing useable concentrations of mescaline is two out of more than a hundred.

Acacia berlandieri in Jim Hogg County
Acacia berlandieri in Jim Hogg County

Acacia berlandieri
Acacia rigidula

There are problems in these accounts which raise questions about the actual validity of Clement’s claims for mescaline in these two legumes. More noteable has been the failure of other workers, whether before or after Clement, to replicate their reported results. [Summary of the reported chemical analysis for these two species and a more detailed discussion.]

Descriptions, characteristics & illustrations:
Acacia berlandieri
Acacia rigidula

Acacia rigidula in Jim Hogg County
Acacia rigidula in Jim Hogg County
the so-called “huallanca“. Photo by Anonymous.

Austrocylindropuntia huallanca / huayanca

(Mislabeled as a Trichocereus)

Purported to be a San Pedro from the Matucana region with no further information included. Perhaps I am overly cynical but I would wager money that this was being offered to its ethnobotanical distributor entirely as a scam attempting to get them to sell the dried material for $125 a kg.

Armatocereus laetus
Armatocereus laetus (UC)

Armatocereus laetus

Strange and unreferenced comments have appeared asserting the presence of mescaline in this cactus.
They are all erroneous.
An email conversation with Wade Davis and with Dennis McKenna established that the phytochemical analysis alluded to in Davis 1983 had never been performed and that mescaline was not reported.

Some of the claims that it contains mescaline may simply be based on Wade Davis proposing it to be considered a San Pedro cactus that is sometimes used for brew preparation.

This species has also been found to be inactive in unpublished human bioassays. It presently lacks an analysis other than a less-than-ideal screening for alkaloids by Carl Djerassi. Using material that had been wild-collected in Peru, he concluded that it was almost devoid of alkaloids or triterpenes. Djerassi et al. 1955b

See Part. C sect. 2 Cactus Chemistry By Species or Part B San Pedro for more details.
The latter PDF is several years old now so if you encounter problems with it be sure to turn off your PC’s attempts to open it in ‘safe mode’ (the new security default setting in Windows distrusts any file made by a version of Acrobat prior to having the newer security upgrades). If anyone has problems opening this with a Mac let me know.  That has been the only conflict reported so far.

Carnegiea gigantea
Carnegiea gigantea at Cactus Country (VIC)

Carnegiea gigantea (Engelmann) Britton & Rose

The assertion that mescaline was reported is erroneous.
It has never been found to contain mescaline.
The claim is not supported by any of the references that it included. [i.e. Agurell 1969b, Kapadia & Fayez 1970 J. Pharm Sci. 58:1158, and Mata & McLaughlin 1976 Lloydia 39(6):461.]
It APPEARS to possibly have arisen due to a misreading of a dense paragraph in Agurell 1969b by a worker for whom English was a second language.
A surprising number of analytical reports have been published for saguaro. NONE of them have reported mescaline. See Cactus Chemistry By Species for more details.

Cephalocereus senilis
Cephalocereus senilis (HBG)

Cephalocereus melanostele Vaupel

Cephalocereus sp. (?) Pfeiffer

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion.

Cephalocereus senilis
Cephalocereus senilis (HBG)
Haageocereus acranthus
Haageocereus acranthus cuttings shipped from Peru

Cereus acranthus Vaupel  — now Haageocereus acranthus (Vaupel) Backeberg

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and he does not include anything to support his assertion.

See more comments under T. cephalomacrostibas below and in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Cereus peruvianus var. reclinatus
Cereus peruvianus var. reclinatus (HBG)

Cereus peruvianus Haworth

Cereus sp. Miller

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and he does not include anything to support his assertion.
It may be important to recall that pachanoids have historically been sold as Cereus or Cereus peruvianus (including in Peru).
It is however pertinent to note that this claim most likely resulted from Rouhier 1927 (and/or Soulaire 1947’s retelling) who made this claim in print based on comments from Cobo but careful reading will reveal Cobo was actually talking about T. pachanoi.

See more images and some additional details in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Coryphantha macromeris (Presidio County)

Coryphantha macromeris (Engelmann) Lemaire

Coryphantha runyonii Britton & Rose

Claims for mescaline’s presence in these two species appear in the literature erroneously.

BBB presents Coryphantha macromeris as a mescaline containing cacti for no clear reason; perhaps assuming that rumors of use must mean that mescaline is present?
The first species has been purported to be a mild hallucinogenic plant in its own right.
That particular claim arose in Ott (1976 Hallucinogenic Plants of North America) who cited his own unpublished lab notes and Jerry McLaughlin, unpublished data, as his references. Schultes & Hofmann included Ott’s observation in Botany & Chemistry of the Hallucinogens and in Plants of the Gods. However, in his later works, such as Pharmacotheon, Ott strangely began citing Schultes & Hofmann’s secondary reference (to him!) and ceased to include mention of a reference to either himself or to Dr. McLaughlin.
Bioassay of Coryphantha macromeris produced mild but weird effects followed by persistent after-effects. I certainly have no intention of bioassaying it again.
See more details within the entries for normacromerine and macromerine in Sacred Cacti Part C, section 1, Cactus Alkaloids.

Coryphantha runyonii appears to be listed seemingly for nothing more than being considered to be a varietal form of Coryphantha macromeris.
Neither species has ever been reported to contain mescaline based on analysis or bioassay.

See more images and some additional details in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

There is also an account appearing finding mescaline in a compounded herbal formulation that was shown,  through the use of cDNA primers, to contain Coryphantha macromeris. Analysis of actual plant material showed that the mescaline came from a different source and was not from Coryphantha macromeris. The mescaline containing plant source was not identified but the herbal extract was found to additionally contain Turnera diffusa (damiana) and Peganum harmala (syrian rue). Hiroyuki Kikuchi et al. (2010) Forensic Toxicology, 28: 77-83.

Coryphantha runyonii (field collected and under cultivation in Starr County)
Coryphantha palmeri
Coryphantha palmeri (HBG)

Coryphantha palmeri (Engelmann) Britton & Rose (now C. compacta)

Coryphantha radians (A.P.deCandolle) Britton & Rose

Trace amounts of mescaline are seemingly implied to have been detected in these two species but the wording of the account is unclear and does not specifically state it. Gennaro et al. 1996

See some additional details in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Coryphantha radians
Coryphantha radians (UC)
Epiphyllum oxypetallum
Epiphyllum oxypetallum (SRSU)

Epiphyllum sp.

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion.

See more images and some additional unrelated details in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Gymnocalycium fleisheranum
Gymnocalycium fleisheranum (UC)

Gymnocalycium fleischerianum Backeberg

Mescaline (0.0001-0.001% dry wt.) ?
Štarha 2001c did not include a citation for this information. (Furthermore, G. fleischerianum was included only in the table on p. 91 and not in the ‘by species’ breakdown that was presented earlier in the same work.)

Matucana madisoniorum
Matucana madisoniorum (HBG; field collected by Hutchison)

Matucana madisoniorum

An unpublished claim asserting the presence of mescaline was apparently held and voiced by its collector Paul Hutchison. No information exists about why he suspected that might be true but it was probably as simple as its body morphology. Analysis of this species by Sasha Shulgin was unable to detect any type of alkaloid to be present. The material was of a direct lineage from Hutchison’s wild collections and was provided to Sasha by one of Hutchison’s former students. Claims have been voiced suspecting indigenous use but no rationale was included and there does not appear to be any real basis for that suspicion.

See more images and a meager amount of additional details in Cactus Chemistry By Species.


Melocactus peruvianus
Melocactus peruvianus (BTA)

Melocactus peruvianus Vaupel

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion.

Additional details are in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Myrtillocactus geometrizans
Myrtillocactus geometrizans (HBG)

Myrtillocactus geometrizans (von Martius) Console

This species appears in the literature erroneously.
Mescaline is not present.
0.3% dry wt. appears to be listed as being isolated from plants previously used as stocks for grafting Lophophora williamsii but G. Siniscalco Gigiliano contradicts this in his experimental account (Siniscalco Gigliano 1983).

Neoraimondia macrostibas var. roseiflora
Neoraimondia macrostibas var. roseiflora (near Matucana, Peru)

Neoraimondia macrostibas (K.Schumann) Britton & Rose

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion.

I suspect he may have been assuming the presence of mescaline extrapolating from an earlier report by Guttierez-Noriega that it was incorporated into a shamanic brew called cimora. (See additional comments in the Sacred Cacti Part B San Pedro.)

Opuntia cylindrica
Opuntia cylindrica (UC)

Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia) cylindrica

The claim for the presence of mescaline was based on Trichocereus pachanoi misidentified as this species. See more details within its entry.

Opuntia pachypus
Opuntia pachypus

Opuntia pachypus K.Schumann [sic as Opuntia pachiypus]

Opuntia sp.

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion. See some images of Austrocylindropuntia pachypus within its miniscule entry.


More unresolved questions concerning some cacti claimed to contain mescaline

More images and detailed comments concerning these (and  discussions of the assorted cacti additionally reported or purported to be psychoactive for reasons other than mescaline) can be found in Cactus Chemistry By Species in the section entitled “Activity & Mythology“.)

"5 San Pedros"
“5 San Pedros”

Five San Pedros

All 5 of these are purported to be known as “San Pedro” and are further claimed to be used by Peruvian shamans for making their brew.
Compare the one on far right to Armatocereus laetus which can be found pictured farther above. And notice the Haageocereus?

At risk of being accused of being cynical, I was struck with an unanswered question as to whether the person assembling the “5 San Pedros” did so based on actually encountering them in use by shamans or if they did so based on their interpretation of the published literature. This same person was also the source of “huallanca” and several other oddities.

More words and many more images can be found in the PDF Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Stenocereus hystrix
Stenocereus hystrix (EG)

Stenocereus hystrix

There is a claim for the presence of mescaline in something that is being sold under the name Stenocereus hystrix. And there are reports of activity in dried material said to be from this plant (curiously no reports yet from people ingesting material from the cuttings).
That identification appears to be plausible to me (that is an image above) but flowers are needed for a conclusive determination AND there are some odd discrepancies meriting some comments.
It is a commercial ethnobotanical offering purported to be potent with a 20 gram dose of outer tissues (dry weight). Some of the same material was said by the vendor to be weaker due to being harvested after water was abundant.
It is also claimed by its vendor that only one stand of this species is active and that all of the other occurrences in the Dominican Republic are inactive. This last point has caused the supplier to further suggest that it might be a hybrid but it is unclear what they thought it was crossed with or why it being a hybrid would cause it to become mescaline containing.
More work is needed as Djerassi had reported Stenocereus (as Lemaireocereus) hystrix to be devoid of alkaloid. I would feel a lot more comfortable with thinking there may be something to this claim if not for the incredible problems that arose both times when attempting to procure live material to identify and then analyze (in all attempts what came were infected with a rapidly fatal disease; one was already dead upon arrival). Dried material said to be from this species was readily available by comparison.  My gut feeling is that it is this CLAIM that probably is in need of some closer scrutiny as, so far as I have been able to determine, both the cuttings and the dried material are produced in the Dominican Republic on the vendor’s behalf by a third-party rather than by the vendor.

An actual entry for Stenocereus hystrix will soon exist but until then, references, more images of authentic Stenocereus hystrix & Djerassi’s meager analytical details can be found within the work Cactus Chemistry By Species.

Haageocereus cephalomacrostibas
Haageocereus cephalomacrostibas (UC)

Trichocereus cephalomacrostibas (Werdermann & Backeberg) Backeberg

[AKA Haageocereus cephalomacrostibas or Weberbauerocereus cephalomacrostibas]
The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support his assertion.
Material appearing similar to this species or Haageocereus acranthus has been purported to be used by Peruvian shamans (Anonymous 2005; see image below that was mislabeled T. spachianus). [See images and additional comments above or in its entry in the PDF Cactus Chemistry By Species.]

mislabeled plant being presented as a San Pedro
 The interesting looking material show below was obtained in Europe under the name Trichocereus cephalomacrostibas. Thanks to Evil Genius for sharing the image!
Trichocereus cephalomacrostibas
Obtained as Trichocereus cephalomacrostibas in Europe
This is NOT cuzcoensis
This is NOT cuzcoensis

Trichocereus cuzcoensis

The species that is properly known by this name has been found to contain no mescaline and small amounts of mescaline (see details in the PDFs Cactus Chemistry By Species and in San Pedro under Trichocereus cuzcoensis).

The plant pictured above is clearly misidentified and is not T. cuzcoensis. I suspect that it might not be a Trichocereus and is some other genera. Commercially available dried outer tissues purportedly from this plant are being reported to contain mescaline based on human bioassays. 20 grams of that dried material is being anecdotally reported to be effective.  That said, the attempts to obtain live material for analysis were unsuccessful (from the same source in Peru as the 5 San Pedros) so presently this represents an unaswered question. In light of the wealth of identification problems and misrepresented materials I’d suggest that no analysis should be considered to be meaningful if it lacks access to living material and fails to prepare and retain vouchers for second-party confirmation.

One additional point of potential confusion intersects with Trichocereus cuzcoensis. When the cuttings and lots of dried material (mentioned above) as being more recently sold as Stenocereus hystrix were first offered by their ethnobotanical vendor, they were sold under the name Trichocereus cuzcoensis. That particular material was reported active and mescaline-containing based on human bioassays.

Cutting of Trichocereus tulhuayensis obtained from Knize in 2000
Cutting of Trichocereus tulhuayensis obtained from Knize in 2000

Trichocereus tulhuayacensis Ochoa

The claim for the presence of mescaline is made by Caycho Jimenez 1977 (page 91) but no reference was cited and nothing was included to support this assertion.

The presence of mescaline would be far from surprising but this species presently lacks any analysis or bioassay reports.

Trichocereus sp. in Tom Juul’s old garden in 2006

Trichocereus sp.

I presently do not know the correct identification of this plant.
It has features that resembles bridgesii, uyupampensis and knuthianus but is not really a nice fit for any.
This plant has been proven to be a mescaline container through human bioassay. Correspondent requesting anonymity.

My none-too-great photos were taken of the plant growing in Tom Juul’s garden just prior to its destruction to prepare space for construction. 

Trichocereus species in Tom Juul's garden in 2006
Trichocereus species in Tom Juul’s garden in 2006
A question in Chiclayo
A question in Chiclayo

Unknown cacti in the Chaclayo market.

The person taking this photograph did not acquire any information about what these plants were sold for. (I am referring to the many ribbed cacti that are displayed with the normal San Pedro tips.)

There is presently no suggestion they contain mescaline and no indication of their intended use. They could have been sold simply for use as a hair rinse as is a common use for other columnar cacti.
There are some assorted loose threads that cause these to be intriguing to me and I would suggest that it would be worth someone following up on this report and learning their intended purpose no matter what that turned out to be.  Please let me know and I’ll update this accordingly.

A question in Chiclayo


The genus Pereskia Mill.

~20 spp. of leafy trees, shrubs and vines occurring through Mexico, West Indies and Central and South America. Some are trunked and upright but many are sprawling.


Pereskia bleo
By Meneerke bloem (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A few species have been in cultivation for many years in warm countries.
Stems are woody and not jointed.
Leaves are alternate, broad and deciduous.
Martin et al. 1971 noted them to only drop their leaves if their temperature in the Fall reaches 40° F. Mine have never exhibited any deciduous behavior in central Texas.
Safford described the glossy leaves as resembling those of lemons.
Areoles spiny but without glochids.
Flowers are stalked solitary or corymbose or panicled, rotate, white or yellow or red. Safford pointed out that the occurrence of clustered or panicled flowers in the Cactaceae is unique to certain species of Pereskia.
Hortus Third: 846

Sometimes more appropriately spelled Peireskia or Peirescia. Named to honor the French naturalist Nicholas Fabre de Peiresc (Nicolaus Claudius Fabricius Peireskius) (1580-1637)]; who Hortus described as being “a French gardener”.

Propagation is by cuttings. Can be raised like a normal cactus but I’ve had better luck treating them like epiphytes. i.e. (similar to orchids but with lower moisture.) Hortus Third: 846

 Fruit is said to be apple-shaped (?) and used in the West Indies for sauces and tarts in a manner similar to gooseberries. The seeds are said to be lens shaped and glossy. Safford 1908

See also Backeberg 1958: 104-119 and Britton & Rose 1919; 1:
8-24 and Schuster 1990

Pereskia corrugata Cutak

Ladislaus Cutak (1951) Cactus & Succulent Journal (USA), 23: 173.

Now lumped as a synonym of Pereskia bleo.
Pereskia bleo was published on page 475 in Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1828) Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, 3: 457-476. “Cacteae”.

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.

By കാക്കര (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Pereskia corrugata
By കാക്കര (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Common name: As have other Pereskia species, Pereskia corrugata has been called the “Rose cactus”, “Wax rose”. “Leaf cactus”, “Barbados gooseberry”, and “Lemon vine”. Pereskia bleo is perhaps most commonly called “Cactus bleo” or just “Bleo” but has many common names including “Rose cactus”, “Chinese rose”, “Spinach cactus”, “Orange rose cactus” (English), “Bleo de chupa”, “Chupa”, “Chupa melón”, “Najú”, “Najú de culebra” & “Najú de esoubas”  (Spanish), “Pokok jarum tujuh bilah” (Malay), “Cak sing cam”, “Qi xing zhen” (Chinese), “Butarrar” (Kuna Indian); (See Zareisedehizadeh et al. 2014.)

Etymology: corrugata is in reference to the wavy leaf margins. bleo means “to flower”, “to bloom” or “a blossom”.

Distribution & occurrence: Of unknown origin. Cutak described P. corrugata based on a specimen in the Missouri Botanical Garden.

P. Bleo ( H. B. et Kunth nov. gen. amer. 6. p. 69.) foliis oblongis acuminatis, aculeis axillaribus 5-6 fasciculatis, floribus ad apicem ramorum 2-4 breviter pedunculatis, petalis obovatis retusis. 5 in ripâ flum. Magdalenae propè Badillas Novo-Granatensium ubi dicitur Bleo. Flores incarnati. Stam. etiam rubra basi alba. Stigma 5-7-fidum.” p 475 in de Candolle 1828.

as Pereskia corrugata:

Bush or small tree 2.5 meters or taller.
The main trunk is said to have tufts of thin spines.
Stems are grass-green and smooth, later becoming olive-green and shiny.
Spines are sharp, black, of dissimilar lengths, in groups of 3-25 and 5 to 15 mm in length.
Leaves are grass-green, paler underneath and 8-32 cm long and 3-7.5 cm wide.
Backberg 1958: page 118.

Reported analysis (as Pereskia corrugata):

(using tlc and GC)
3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine was present in the dry plant at 0.0009%.
Mescaline was present in the dry plant at 0.0005%.
Also observed (with tlc)
Doetsch et al. 1980

Pharmacological, chemical and biological review (as Pereskia bleo): Zareisedehizadeh et al. 2014

Pereskia grandifolia Haworth

Ludovico (Ludwig) Haworth (1837) Enumeratio Diagnostica Cactearum Hucusque Cognitarum, 177.

(= Pereskia grandiflora Hort. ex. Pfeiffer)

Mescaline is not present but this species is noteworthy.


Pereskia grandiflora

Common name: “Rose Cactus” “Blade apple”

Etymology: Grandi- means large. folia is in reference to leaves and flora is in reference to the flowers.

Distribution & occurrence: Brazil. Backeberg also lists occurrence in Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Colombia.

Usually cultivated under the name Pereskia bleo according to Backeberg. Compare his opinion with the assorted declarations of synonymity contained herein.


Pereskia grandifolia

Original description:

“Suppl. p. 85. – Cactus grandifolius LINK enum. 2. p. 25. – REICHENB. fl. exot. 329. – P. grandiflora HORT.
Pa: Brasilia;
P. spinis numerosis variis validis; majoribus biuncialibus nigricantibus, foliis lanceolato-oblongis saturate viridibus, carnosulis, costa subtus valida, deorsum fere in petiblum desinente (HAW.).
P. arborescens, altissima, ramosa; areolis confertis fulvo -tomentosis; aculeis 8–10 brunneis inaequalibus; foliis viridibus, subtus asperis, lanceolatis.
Truncus et rami praecedenti similes. Aculei ½ – 1 poll. longi.
Folia 4 poll. longa, 1½ poll. lata.
Flores verni; ad apices ramorum , subpedunculati, liIaceo-rosei, 1¾ poll. diam. Sepala obscure viridia. Petala basi angusta, sursum latiora, acuminata. Stamina rubra, antheris flavis.” p. 177 in Haworth 1837.


Shrub or tree to 15 feet. Trunk very spiny.
Oblong leaves to 6” with short petioles.
[Black needle-sharp] spines are at first 1-2, to 2 inches long.
Flowers in mostly few flowered terminal clusters, rose-colored or white, 1-1/2 inch across, sepals are green, style and stigma lobes are white.
Hortus Third page 846.


Pereskia grandifolia

Fruit is pear-shaped with cuneate leaves.
Ed: Perhaps “somewhat pear shaped” would be a better description. Fruit smells wonderful, somewhat like green apples, but tastes bitter, like soap, with a foul after-taste. Seeds are black and very glossy. All fruit remained green when ripe in central Texas and produced very few seeds.


Pereskia grandiflora

P. grandiflora has thusfar produced seeds for me that were consistently smaller than P. grandifolia but I have examined too few specimens to know if this is a consistent trend.


For a nice microphotograph of a druse crystal observed in a Pereskia grandifolia cell, see page 173 in Mauseth 1983a.

For a photograph of a callusing funiculi; grown in tissue culture, see King 1957, page 104.


Pereskia grandiflora

Reported analysis:

While both Hortus and Backeberg equate P. grandifolia and P. grandiflora; Doetsch et al. 1980 reported different chemical profiles in their specimens; determining P. grandifolia to contain 3-methoxy-tyramine and 4-methoxy-β-hydroxy-phenethylamine while P. grandiflora was instead found to contain β-Hydroxymescaline.

Tyramine was found in both plants, (as well as in 6 other species of Pereskia.)


grandiflora – left & back with flower on back right / grandifolia – front right.

Hortus believed material cultivated under the name P. bleo was most likely P. grandifolia, and, further, that P. grandifolia was usually cultivated under the name P. bleo.

Backeberg 1977 gave Pereskia bleo (HBK.) DC. as Rhodocactus bleo (HBK.) Knuth. Also Pereskia grandifolia Haw. as Rhodocactus grandifolius (Haw.) Knuth. [see Backeberg 1958: p. 116; flower, p. 117, fig. 49] Modern workers keep them separated.

Noteworthy also, perhaps, is that all of the mescaline producing Pereskia spp. are considered by Backeberg to be Rhodocacti. Perhaps a hint for future assays?.


Pereskia grandiflora Hort.

Hort. = Hortorum or hortulanorum meaning that it originated as a horticultural offering and that it is not a recognized species.

Mescaline is not present but this plant is noteworthy.


Pereskia grandiflora

Common name:
“Rose Cactus”, “Blade Apple”

Distribution & occurrence: Unknown origin.

This is a widely and popularly cultivated cactus.


Pereskia grandifolia at UC

Reported chemistry:

β-Hydroxymescaline has been reported
While it is pharmacologically active, it has been reported inactive as a hallucinogen in animal studies. See under its entry in Sacred Cacti Part C, section 1: the Cactus Alkaloids..

Removal of the β-hydroxy group IS readily possible using simple catalytic hydrogenation but that is obviously not a kitchen countertop procedure for untrained people.

Using tlc, Doetsch et al. 1980 observed but curiously did not quantify β-Hydroxy-Mescaline and Tyramine. Strangely, the novel discovery of β-Hydroxymescaline as a natural compound was not explored any deeper.
Normally McLaughlin’s teams are quite anal analytical chemists who are amazingly rigorous about quantitating and proving the identity of never before isolated cactus alkaloids, even if present in tiny traces.  Or at least, novel alkaloid discoveries usually merit some interest by their discoverers.

While β-Hydroxymescaline has long been known as a synthetic compound; this single report is its only reported occurrence in nature [Note 41].
Their apparent lack of interest in the occurrence of this molecule in this plant seems puzzling to me.

Pereskia tampicana Weber

Frédéric Albert Constantin Weber (1898) Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 4: 167.

Now considered to be lumped as just another synonym of P. grandifolia.

Backeberg 1977 published as Rhodocactus tampicanus (Weber) Backeberg (pg. 406.)

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.

Pereskia tampicana

Pereskia tampicana at UC

Eytmology: Named for Tampico, Mexico.

Occurrence & distribution: Found in Tampico, Mexico. Said by Safford 1908 to have “…only been collected on the banks of the Rio Panuco, not far from Tampico, in the northern corner of Veracruz.”
This species evidently was later found to have a wider distribution, or perhaps range of cultivation, as the cover of the 1984 CSJA, volume 56, issue #4, features a painting of this species depicting a specimen found growing at Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico (near the village of Los Juntos).

Original description (as Pereskia tampicana):
“Tige frutescente, verte, lisse; aréoles convexes, tomenteuses, ordinairement inermes, rarement avec un aiguillon isolé, droit, rouge. Feuilles elliptiques allongées, longues de 7 à 11 8 centimètres, larges de 3 centimetres, rétrécies aux deux bouts, brièvement pétiolées, aiguës an sommet, d’un vert jaunâtre sur les deux faces; nervure médiane de même couleur, saillante sur la face inférieure, marquée par une simple ligne sur la face supérieuse; nervures secondaires peu visibles,
Fleurs disposées en bouquets à l’extrémité des rameaux, longues et larges de 2 à 3 centimètres, d’un rose lilas en forme de coupe. Ovaire piriforme, sub-pédonculé, anguleux, prolifere, verdâtre, garni de quelques squames foliacées inermes, dont 6 à 7 disposées au sammet le l’ovaire ou elles forment une sorte de calicule vert. Sépales 2, pétaloïdes rose lilas clair.
Pétales plus longs, plus colorés, rose lilas pourpre, lancéolés; étamines nombreuses, blanches; anthères jaune soufre, style court, à base conique ; stigmates blancs.
Cette espèce est voisine du Per. grandifolia Haw., du Brésil, dont elle se distingue facilement par ses feuilles beaucoup plus petites et sa tige submerme.” p. 167 in Weber 1898.

See also Backeberg 1958: page 115.


Pereskia tampicana at UC

Shrub to 1.5 meters tall. Branches are green and moderately thick.
Areoles have little felt.
Oblong-lanceolate to narrow spatulate leaves are 7-8 cm in length.
Carmine-rose red flowers; 2.5 cm in length and 2-3 cm wide.
Backberg 1958: page 115.


Pereskia tampicana at UC

Reported analysis:

Using tlc and GC.
3,4-Dimethoxy-β-phenethylamine was found to be present in the dry plant at 0.0025%.
Mescaline was present at 0.0013% of the dry plant. (1.3 mg per 100 gm of dry plant.)
Also observed (in tlc):

Doetsch et al. 1980

Despite the low values and while it is not clear whether mescaline was actually present in all parts of the plant, it would be worth trying to determine if the deciduous leaves of Pereskia spp. contained mescaline as plants could withstand periodic leaf harvests. Several kilos of dry material is a lot of plant but in tropical or mild temperate zones these plants can get quite large and sprawling with age. They would probably respond very well to thoughtful harvesting, especially if coupled with the rooting of numerous cuttings. These beautiful plants need closer evaluation. [As does the closely related Maihuenia.]
It is not a feasible plant source for any commercial purposes but for an individual or so, in the right climate this subject might prove to be something interesting to study.


Pelecyphora aselliformis Ehrenberg

Carl Ehrenberg (1843) Botanische Zeitung, 1: 737-738.


Mescaline reported in trace amounts.


Pelecyphora aselliformis

Water content: 62% by weight.

Etymology: Pelecyphora is from the Greek; pelekys “axe” or “hatchet” and phoreo “I carry”:

Common names: “Hatchet cactus”, “Peote”, “Peotillo”, “Peyote meco”, “Peyote”, “Peyotillo”, “Peyotl” and “Piote”.

Distribution & occurrence: It is native to San Luis Potosí in Mexico.


Pelecyphora aselliformis

Original description: “Stamm einzeln und mehrköpfig, plattkuglig, eingedrückt, birneförmig. Die einzeluen Pflanzen haben ¼ bis 2 Zoll Durchmesser und sind ½ bis 2 Zoll hoch. Oberfläche mit beilförmigen oben an der Schneide angestutzten, flachen, kammartig feingezähnten Höckern, spiralförmig besetzt. […]
Höcker beilförmig, graugrün, glatt, an der Basis etwas in die Breite gezogen, fast vierseitig, nach oben, vorn und am meisten nach hinten schmal zesammengedrückt, die schmalen Kanten nach unten zu abgerundet, die vordere nach dem Scheitel zu schnabelförmig erhöhlt, etwas übergebogen, die hintere abgerundet, oben an der Schniede angestutzt, schmal, in der Mitte etwas breiter, nach hinten spitz; auch länglich oval oder oval, etwas gewölbt oder wellenförmig (sattelförmig) ausgeschweift, vorn höher wie hinten, mit einem hornartigen graden oder gebogenen, flachen, abgerundeten oder in der Mitte kahnartig vertieften Schildchen (keilförmig in die Höcker eingewachsen), welches mit 2 Reihen horizontaler, bis fast an den Rand angewachsener, dann überstehender, durch bedeckt ist. In jeder Reihe sind circa 25, zusammen circa 50 Zähnchen befindlich. Achseln und Seitenwände der Höcher am Scheitel und der Scheitel selbst mit feiner seidenartiger Wolle besetzt, welche länger ist als die Höcker, sich aber umlegt. Blüthen achselständig mit seidenartiger Wolle umgeben, das Nähere unbekannt. Beeren länglich, oben spitz, Saamen nierenförmig. (Baebachtung von 1839). Jetzt zeigen sich an den lebenden Pflanzen die Früchte in der obern Achsel der Höcker, in Form dünnhäutiger Beeren mit weingen nierenförmigem Saamen (von der Grösse wie bei den krausrippigen Echinocacten oder eines mässigen Stecknadelknopfes). Diese Beere ist aber fest in das Fleisch, in den Stamm eingewachsen und scheint sich nicht bei der Reife herauszuheben, wie bei den Mammillarien und andern Cacteen. Die Saamen aber erscheinen einzeln aus den geplatzten Beeren an der Oberfläche zwischen den Kämmchen in der Seide.
Höcker 1–4 Linien hoch, 1–4 L. lang, unten 2 L. breit, oben 1–12 L. breit. Vaterland Mexico.” columns 737–738 in Ehrenberg 1843.

Lemaire 1858 L’ Illustration horticole, vol. 5: t. 186.

Lemaire 1858 L’ Illustration horticole, 5: 186

These small plants are round in cross-section and somewhat club shaped. Their tops are slightly flattened and they tend to grow almost flush with the ground in the wild similar to peyote. (In cultivation the stems are usually exposed.)

They grow to 10 cm tall and 5.5 cm wide with age.
Tubercles are up to 5 mm tall and set in spirals on the body.
The long areoles have spines which are united with each other forming a peculiar shape which gives them the name of ‘hatchet cactus’ in reference to the shape of the tubercles.
The spines are very small, the longest being in the center of the tubercle.

The root is thick and fleshy.

Carmine-violet flowers are bell-shaped to funnel-form and can reach more than 3 cm in diameter. Pizzetti describes the petals as crimson-violet and the sepals as white.
Backeberg 1977: 408 and personal observations.
See also Backeberg 1961: 3077-3082, (includes pictures, one as close-up) and Britton & Rose 1923: 59-60 (picture page 58, fig. 56. Schuster 1990 has a picture with flower, on page 188.
Photo on page 103 of Anderson 1998.
Pizzetti 1985: Entry #257 with picture.


Pelecyphora aselliformis

Sold in the drug markets of San Luís Potosí for fevers (citing Safford 1909). Also used locally north of there for rheumatic pains. Bruhn & Bruhn 1973


Pelecyphora aselliformis

Reported analysis:

The presence of anhalidine and hordenine was reported in Agurell et al. 1971b.

Neal et al. 1972 isolated and reported identifying N,N-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (AKA 3-demethyltrichocereine) and pellotine using wild-collected plants.

Bruhn & Bruhn found N,N-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine was the major alkaloid in their specimens and also observed hordenine and pellotine in the phenolic fraction (also using wild-collected plants).

In the nonphenolic fraction, Neal et al. 1972 had additionally identified trace amounts of mescaline, N-methylmescaline, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine and N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-phenethylamine.

Bruhn & Bruhn were unable to confirm the presence of the aforementioned trace components in the nonphenolic fraction due to the presence of a larger amount of an unidentified nonphenolic alkaloid or alkaloids. Bruhn & Bruhn 1973

Mescaline was reported at 0.003% by Siniscalco Gigliano 1983 (using plants cultivated in Italy).

Agurell reported this species to contain 1-10 mg. / 100 grams of total alkaloid in the fresh plant (using gc-ms) using material cultivated in Europe:
Anhalidine as 10-50% of the total alkaloid
Hordenine as 10-50% of the total alkaloid
Unknown as 10-50% of the total alkaloid
Unknown as traces
Agurell et al. 1971b (Mescaline was not observed by Agurell.)

Preparative TLC was used by Neal to separate the alkaloids using Chloroform-Ethanol-Ammonium hydroxide (15:20:1) as the developing solution. They were unable to separate mescaline from 3,4-Dimethoxy-phenethylamine (the same was true with their N-methyl analogs) by the use of tlc and successfully used gc for the separation.
They used ms of the dansyl derivatives for identification.

5.5 kg. of dried cactus [300 plants] were extracted to recover a total of:
Hordenine (Major alkaloid at 0.00063%; recovering 34.7 mg as the hydrochloride.) [Identification by mp, mmp, tlc, IR]
Anhalidine (0.000067%; recovering 3.7 mg as the hydrochloride.) [mp, mmp, tlc, IR]
Pellotine (0.0000094%; recovering 0.52 mg as the hydrochloride.) [mp, mmp, tlc, ms]
Mescaline (less than 0.00002% determined by GLC; they were unable to purify with tlc but this equates to a concentration of less than 1.1 mg per 5.5 kg [i.e. less than 200 μg per kg of dried plants].) [glc, ms]
[The figure 0.0002%, appearing in the literature, is in error]
N-Methylmescaline (trace amount; % not given.) [glc, ms]
3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine (trace amount; % not given.) [glc, ms]
N-Methyl-3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine (trace amount; % not given.) [glc, ms]
3-Demethyltrichocereine (0.000018%; recovering 10 mg as the oxalate.) [mp, mmp, NMR]
(All percentages were by dry weight)
Neal et al. 1972


Štarha 1994;
Using gc-ms with material cultivated in Czechoslovakia:
Tyramine (Less than 0.0001% by fresh wt.)
N-Methyltyramine (0.0002% by fresh wt.)
Hordenine (0.0007% by fresh wt.)
3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine (0.0002% by fresh wt.)
Mescaline (Less than 0.0001% by fresh wt.)
Anhalidine (Less than 0.0001% by fresh wt.)
Pellotine (Less than 0.0001% by fresh wt.)

Quinic acid was reported present in Kringstad & Nordal 1975 (identified using tlc & glc).



Pelecyphora aselliformis


Grows slowly but readily from seed and is very popular among cactus collectors.

This miniature is easily grown if they have adequate sun and
protection from freezes and excessive moisture.

Said by Miles Anderson to tolerate brief periods down to 20°F.

Slow growing and rot prone; doing best with coarse compost in a small pot.

Anderson recommended the grafting of offsets or seedlings, allowing them to grow for several years, then degrafting and rerooting to be the fastest method of growing large specimens.

Anderson also commented that many growers do not harvest the seeds but rather allow them to germinate next to the mother and then harvest the seedlings.

Anderson 1998


Polaskia chende (Gosselin) Gibson & Horak

Robert Roland-Gosselin (1905) Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 11 (6): 506-507, as Cereus chende.
Nathaniel Lord Britton & Joseph Nelson Rose (1920) The Cactaceae, 2: 90-91, fig. 133, as Lemaireocereus chende.
Curt Backeberg (1956) Cactus and Succulent Journal of Great Britain, 18: 12, as Heliabravoa chende.
Arthur Charles Gibson & Karl E. Horak (1979) Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 65 (4): 1006, as Polaskia chende.

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.

Common names:chende” and “chente” and “chinoa”. First was included by Pizzetti, first two by García and all three by Britton & Rose. Roland-Gosselin also gave “chende” but added the Nahautl name “cotzonotsehtly“.

Etymology: Polaskia is a name honoring the cactus lovers Charles and Mary Polaski.
Heliabravoa is a name honoring Helia Bravo-Hollis, the Mexican botanist.
Lemaireocereus is a name honoring Charles Lemaire.
chende is derived from “chende” which is its folk name.)

Distribution & occurrence: Found on the Cerro Colorado and also near Acatepec (in Puebla) Jorge Meyrán García 1973; Occurs in Puebla (near Tehuacán and Tepeojuma) and Oaxaca (Oaxaca de Juarez 1500-2200 m; Rio de Oro Canyon near Tamazulapan, 1750m) in Mexico. Backeberg 1960.



Polaskia chende

Original description of Robert Roland-Gosselin (translated into English):
“This species was discovered growing in places 2,000 meters or more above sea level at Cerro Colorado, near Tehuacan. It bears the indigenous Mixtec name of Chende. According to Mr. Diguet, the Nahuatl name is Cotzonotsehtly, meaning “yellow cactus”.
From about one meter from the ground, it ramifies much and forms, by the piles of the branches, a kind of umbrella.
The photographs show specimens of about 6 meters high, with a much larger diameter at their summit.
The branch observed was 11 centimeters in diameter, seven 3-centimeters deep ribs, subacutely crenellated, not furrowed laterally; their sines forming angles of 90 degrees. Areoles spaced 25 mm apart, placed at the bottom of the notches; They are felted, prominent, and round. 6 Radial spines that are less than 2 cm. The lower spines are longer than the higher spines. All are subulate, starting out, soon becoming gray. No central spines.
Flowering occurs on younger areoles of the previous growth. Pointed buds are covered with brown bristly hairs.
At anthesis, the ovary is nearly spherical, about 12 millimeters in diameter, emerald green, and covered with tight little tubercles, between each of which has a noticeable areole with abundant slender sharp, rigid, brown spines, sometimes up to 4 inches long, interspersed with short wool that is fine & reddish.” (continued below)


Polaskia chende

Fleshy receptacle is very short, not more than 1 centimeter. It is covered with green scales that are overlapping & triangular, terminating as a thin brown mucron that is scarious in texture, sometimes 7-8 millimeters long.
The sepal scales are red to pinkish with a white edge, ending in spikes similar to those of receptacle scales.
Sepals are an inch and a half long by 5-6 mm wide, bright carmine red on the outside, much lighter inside, terminated with a brown tip 2-3 millimeters in length.
Petals are as two rows, the same size as the sepals, forming a spread of 4 centimeters in diameter. The outer row is pink outside, white inside. The inner row is pinkish white on both surfaces. They all terminate in a short brown tip.

Long light yellow stamens of 1o to 15 mm are inserted in steps over the length of the receptacle, with light yellow anthers.
Style is stout, 22 millimeters long, yellowish white, with 11  stigmata, 7-8 mm long, spreading, exceeding the stamens in length.
Nectar chamber is 5 millimeters long, full of syrupy liquid.
The flower gives off a strong enjoyable perfume.
The ripe fruit is pungent and edible, and sold in Mexican markets. It is of the size of a small walnut, covered with brown spines, resembling a sea urchin.
According to Mr. Diguet, the fleshy part of the internal stem is a saffron yellow color, extremely rare in the other species of Cereus. This exceptional trait had not escaped the notice of the aborigines, since, as I said earlier, the Nahuatls referred to the plant as the “yellow cactus”.
The seed is black, very small (1 mm long and 1/2 millimeter wide), finely pitted, subventral hilum is appressed.” pp 505-506, Roland-Gosselin (1905) (The above was adapted from the French original.)


Polaskia chende

Large, many branched plant, 5 to 7 meters tall [to 23 feet]. Often with a short trunk.

Slender branches with 7 to 9 sharp ribs.

Areoles on older branches are 1.5 cm apart but may be closer on
young growth.

Spines are brown to bright yellow turning grey with age. There are usually (2-3) 5 radial spines (1-2.5 cm long) and the centrals (1-2) are a little longer but not always present.

Flowers are rose colored and about 3 to 4 [-5] cm long.

Fruit is 4 cm in diameter, deep red and very spiny [with light brown hairs.].

Seeds are 1 mm long.

Description drawn from: Backeberg 1960 4: 2157-2159 (as Heliabravoa pp. 2155-2159) and Britton & Rose 1920 2: 90-91 (as Lemaireocereus).

Pizzetti 1985: Entry #134; as Heliabravoa. Has color photograph.

It is the source of an edible fruit. García 1973.


Polaskia chende

Backeberg 1960: picture page 2156, fig. 2036, with flower on page 2157, fig. 2038. Flower close-up page 2157, fig. 2038.

Britton & Rose 1920 Vol. 2: 91; picture: fig. 133.

Color picture in habitat on page 59, figure 50 of Ríha & Šubík 1981.

See also figure 3 of García 1973.


Polaskia chende


 Reported analysis:

Mescaline and DMPEA were both indicated to be present at less than 0.01% by tlc while the tandem MS estimate was 0.01%.

3,5-Dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine estimated at 0.01% (tlc and ms-ms).

     Ma et al. 1986

Shamma & Rosenstock 1959 did not report any alkaloids but did isolate and identify the following triterpenes:
Oleanolic acid
Oleanolic aldehyde (First reported occurrence in nature.)



Polaskia chende


Seedlings are commercially available.


Pterocereus (?) gaumeri (Britton & Rose) MacDougall & Miranda

Nathaniel Lord Britton & Joseph Nelson Rose (1920) The Cactaceae, 2: 71, as Pachycereus (?) gaumeri. (Given as a provisional name)

Thomas MacDougall & Faustino Miranda (1954) Ceiba, 4: 140, as Pterocereus (?) gaumeri. (Given as a provisional name)

Curt Backeberg (1960) Die Cactaceae, 4: 2155, as Anisocereus gaumeri.

[Now  Anisocereus gaumeri (Britton & Rose) Backeberg. This is presently the most commonly encountered name although modern authors are moving towards lumping this into Anisocereus foetidus.]

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.


Etymology: Ptero- means “wing” or “feather” (from “pteron”); Pachy- means “fat” or “thick”; Aniso- is a prefix meaning unequal, assymetrical or dissimilar. All are from the Greek. Cereus is from Latin; meaning “torch” [or “wax”]; as the earliest encountered species were candelabra-like.

Distribution & occurrence: From Mexico. (Yucatan) At Hodo and east of Izamel according to Britton & Rose 1920. Does not appear to be abundant in the wild.


“Plant slender, 2 to 7 meters high, erect, simple or few-branched; branches 4-angled or winged; ribs thin, 3 to 4 cm. high; areoles large, 1 to 2.5 cm. apart, brownfelted; spines several, slender, 1 to 3 cm. long, brownish; flowers yellowish green, 5 cm. long; scales of the ovary and flower-tube more or less foliaceous, drying black and thin, with brown felt in the areoles; scales on the ovary linear, puberulent; fruit not known.
This species is based on two collections, both made in Yucatan by George F. Gaumer, as follows: No. 23778 at Hodo, April 1917 (type), No. 648 at Port Silam, 1895. Dr. Gaumer writes of these numbers as follows:
“[…] It grows erect, has few branches, many flowers on each plant; it is very common at the senote Hodo where the most of the plants range from 6 to 10 ft. high; it is a delicate-looking Cactus of a light pea-green color, quite showy, the flowers are of a light green tinged with cream-color, they do not open out much but remain almost cylindrical. Living specimens were sent to Dr. Britton at Bronx Park. It blooms in May and is found about four leagues east of Izamal. […]
Since the above description was written, Dr. Gaumer has sent another plant (No. 23935) which we believe belongs here, although it differs somewhat from the other plants. […] This plant may be described as follows:
Erect; ribs 5 to 7, separated by broad intervals; areoles 1 cm. apart; spines about 15, 2 to 3 cm. long, weak, gray in age; flower-bud acute, ovoid, covered with green imbricating scales.” pp. 71 in Britton & Rose volume 2.


Slender “light pea-green” plants from 2 up to 7 meters tall.

They sometimes have three ribs but may have four. The ribs are thin and around 4 cm high. The brown-felted areoles are large and 1 to 2.5 cm apart with 3 to 6 slender brownish spines that are 1 to 3 cm. long.

Yellowish-green flowers are 5 cm long. Flowers in May.

Fruit is 3-4 cm in diameter, turns dry and globose, small scales at base with felted axils. Scales more or less foliaceous but drying black and thin.

Numerous 4 mm long brown seeds.

Backeberg 1960 4: 2229-2230, pictures on pages 2229, fig.
2128 and 2227, fig. 2127, and Britton & Rose 1920 2: 71, picture in fig. 71, & 1923 4: 271.


Reported analysis:

Mescaline content less than 0.01% by tlc and ms-ms.

3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine was indicated by tlc to be present at less than 0.01% but tandem ms estimated 0.01%.

3,5-Dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine was estimated at 0.01% by tlc while tandem ms indicated less than 0.01%.

Ma et al. 1986

Pterocereine was found to be the major alkaloid (0.062% by fresh weight).

This is an unusual glucoalkaloid which is decomposed to glucose and the isoquinoline deglucopterocereine by the acids employed in usual extraction procedures and also by the enzyme β-glucosidase.

Mohamed et al. 1979 reported an isolation of 0.164% by dry wt for deglucopterocereine.

It is unusual among the cactus alkaloids not only for the glucose substituted at the 5 position (this would correspond to the 2 position of phenethylamines) but also for having a hydroxymethyl group at the one position, something only observed in calycotamine (from Calycanthus floridus).

The N-oxide of deglucopterocereine has also apparently been reported but Lundström 1983 provided no details. He cited Pummangura et al. (1983) Phytochemistry in press. [This is however not in either the 1983 or 1984 author index.]

Deglucopterocereine is structurally very similar to gigantine, (found in Carnegiea gigantea), which is suspected to be hallucinogenic in animals, and also to some of the Pachycereus alkaloids, several species of which are suspected of being psychoactive.

The entire area needs more work.

See more comments in the Cactus Alkaloids, under the Gigantine entry.

Cylindropuntia species

Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa (Engelmann & Bigelow) Knuth

Georg Engelmann & Jacob Bigelow (1856) Description of the Cactaceae, 4 (5): 51- 52, 56, as Opuntia acanthocarpa.
F.M. Knuth (1936) Kaktus-ABC 124 [with C. Backeburg] as Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa.

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.


Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa thornberi

Common name: “Buckhorn cholla”, “Major cholla”.

Distribution: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Also in Sonora, Mexico. Entry #212 in Piazzetti 1985

Etymology: “akanthos” means spines or thorns.


Cylindropuntia aff. acanthocarpa

“caule arborescente erecto reticulato-lignoso, ramis adscendentibus divaricatis; articulis cylindricis tuberculatis pallide virescentibus; tuberculis oblongolinearibus pulvillis ovato-orbiculatis breviter tomentosis vix setosis, aculeis numerosis s. plurimis (8–25) stramineo-vaginatis undique porrectis, stellatis; bacca subglobosa late umbilicata tuberculata; pulvillis 12-15 tomentosis parce setosis aculeolis validis 8–10 munitis; seminibus magnis multangulis late commissuratis. (Plate XVIII, fig. 1-3 & XXIV fig. 11).
Stout, stem 5–6 feet high, wood forming a hollow reticulated tube, solid at base; branches few, never verticillate, separating at acute angles; joints 4–6 inches long, 1 inch in diameter, tubercles 9–10 lines long; pulvilli in some with one central and 6 or 8 exterior spines, in others with 3–7 interior and 10–20 exterior stellately radiating spines. Central spines 1–1¼ inch, exterior 4–10 lines long, with a yellowish or brownish sheath. Fruit 1 inch long with a large but not deep umbilicus, and 12–15 rather shallow tubercles; spines of fruit stout, 3–6 lines long, stouter and more crowded toward the top of the fruit. Seeds unlike any other of our Opuntiae, 2½–3 lines in diameter, with rather broad commissure, often spongy on the margin, and on the sides with many even or concave faces separated by sharp ridges.” p. 51, Engelmann & Bigelow 1856.
[“lines” = 0.1″]


Cylindropuntia aff. acanthocarpa


Normally a sprawling densely spined cholla but it gets taller at higher elevations. Grows as very heavily branched shrubs from one to 5 feet. Lower growing plants are often confused with O. echinocarpa which has different flowers and tubercles. It has a wide range through the southwest and exists in a number of different varieties. Most are fairly densely spined with fine, usually dark brown, spines (lighter colored spines exist in some varieties) covered with straw colored sheaths and numerous glochids.

Flower color and size varies between varieties. Most range from yellow to brown but other colors including red, burnt orange and green are known. Flower buds are used as food by native people after spines are removed by steaming.

Fruit are variable in color and often densely spined.


Cylindropuntia aff. acanthocarpa

See W. Hubert Earle 1980 and Lyman Benson 1982 for more information.
Both are excellent sources of detailed descriptions and pictures.

Earle has color photos of Opuntia flowers for all of the mescaline containing Opuntia species listed here.


Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa

Reported analysis:

Mescaline present at 0.01% (tlc, ms-ms) (dry weight) (To put that in perspective: 0.01% is 10 mg per 100 gm dry weight.)

3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine present at 0.01% (tlc, ms-ms) (dry weight)

3,5-Dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine not detected with tlc but tandem mass spectrometry indicated it to be present at levels of less than 0.01% (dry weight)

Ma et al. 1986

Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (Engelmann & Bigelow) F.M. Knuth

Georg Engelmann & Jacob Bigelow (1856) Description of the Cactaceae, 4 (5): 49-50, as  Opuntia echinocarpa.
F.M. Knuth (1936) Kaktus-ABC, 124 [with Backeburg] as  Cylindropuntia echinocarpa.

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.


Common name:Wiggins’ cholla“, “Silver cholla”, “Golden cholla”

Distribution & occurrence: Occurs on slopes and flats in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.


“caule reticulato-lignoso, erectiusculo, ramis numerosis patentissimis subinde pene decumbentibus, articulis ovatis basi clavatis, tuberculis ovatis prominentibus confertis; setis paucis stramineis ; aculeis albidis stramineo s. albido-vaginatis, majoribus sub-4 cruciatis, ceteris, minoribus 8-16 undique radiantibus ; floris flavi (?) ovario pulvilIis 30-40 villosis subaculeolatisque confertis stipato, sepalis sub-13, exterioribus ovatis acutis ; interioribus obovatis mucronatis, petal is sub·8 obovatis obtusls s. subemarginatis denticulatis, stigmatibus 6 ; bacca globoso-depressa s. hemispherica, late profundeque umbilicata pulvillis sub-40 aculeolos vaginatos elongatos 8-12 gerentibus dense stipata, floris rudimento subpersistente coronata; seminibus subregularibus s. angulatis, crassis, late commissuratis, cotyledonibus parallelis. (Plate XVIII. fig. 5-10 XXIV fig 7.)
In the Colorado valley, near the mouth of Williams’ river. Mr. Schott found a stouter form further south. The more northern plant forms a low shrub 6-18 inches high, spreading, and often partially prostrate ; the cylindric tubular wood is reticulated with short meshes. Joints 1-2½ inches long, less than 1 inch thick, tubercles not more than 4 or 5 lines long ; bristles few and rather coarse; spines 12-20 ; the 4 larger ones are somewhat central, 9-12 lines long; the others radiating from 4-9 lines long ; the smaller ones, as in all these Opuntiae, hardly vaginate. Flower described from a withered specimen found attached to a fruit, to which it somewhat adhered, but perhaps held more by the long intricate spines than by an organic attachment. Flower 1½-1¾ inches in diameter, apparently yellow, which is uncommon among the Cylindric Opuntiae; petals about 9 lines long and three broad, stigmata about 2 lines long. The fruit is very peculiar, and with the seed, characterizes this species well. The wide umbilicus on the shallow fruit gives it the appearance of a saucer, and the seeds find their place more around the edge of the umbilicus than in the body of the fruit. Spines on fruit from 4-10 lines long. Seed 2 lines or more in diameter, with a broader commissure than any of the allied species, cotyledons always, in the specimens examined regularly accumbent or parallel; the only species, so far) where this regularly is the case; albumen unusually large.” pp 49-50, Engelmann & Bigelow 1856a.

“c. : erectiuscula ; ramis numerosis patentissimis ; articulis ovatis basi clavatis ; tuberculis ovatis confertis ; aculeis majoribus sub-4 albidis stramineo-vaginatis, 8-16 minoribus undique radiantibus ; flore flavo (?) ; bacca globosa depressa seu hemisphaerica late profundeque umbilicata pulvillis sub-40 aculeatissimis stipata ; semlnibus late commissuratis.
Var. β. MAJOR : elatior ; articulis elongatis ; aculeis longioribus laxius vaginatis paucioribus ; baccis globosis pulvillos pauciores (25) gerentibus.

In the valley of the Lower Colorado ; β. in Sonora. — Var. α. is a low shrub, 6-18 inches high ; joints 1-2 1/2 inches long ; tubercles 4- 5 lines long ; spines not over an inch in length. Flower apparently yellow, about 1½ inches in diameter and somewhat persistent on the fruit. Fruit very shallow, saucer-shaped, with few large seeds.
Var. β. is 4 or 5 feet high ; joints 8-10 inches long ; interior spines 1 – 1¾ inches long. Fruit globose or even ovate, with 25 pulvilli. Seeds the same in both.”  pp 305-306, Engelmann & Bigelow 1856b.

Low growing densely branched plants with a distinct silver color. Grows 2 to 4-1/2 feet tall with a short woody trunk. Very dense spines are bright yellow when young but turn brownish or grey with age.

Flowers in May. Flowers are yellowish with a reddish streak on the edge of the petal.

Fruit are green turning tan.

W. Hubert Earle 1980 and Lyman Benson 1982 [Schuster 1990 also has picture.]


Reported analysis:

tlc indicated less than 0.01% mescaline by dry wt. while tandem ms estimated 0.01% by dry wt.

tlc indicated less than 0.01% 3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine by dry weight while tandem ms estimated 0.01% by dry weight.

3,5-Dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine was not detected by tlc but tandem ms estimated its presence at 0.01% by dry weight.

Ma et al. 1986

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haworth) F.M. Knuth

Adrian Hardy Haworth (1821) Revisiones Plantarum Succulentarum, 70, as Cereus imbricatus.

F.M. Knuth (1936) Kaktus-ABC, 125 [with Backeburg], as Cylindropuntia imbricata.

Now: Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haworth) F.M.Knuth var. argentea (M.Anthony) Backeberg.

Mescaline was detected.


Common names: USA “Cane cholla” “Cholla”; Mexico: “Coyonostli” [Safford 1908]

Etymology: Name means imbricated or lapping over.

Distribution & occurrence: Can be found growing up to 6,00 feet of elevation in eastern Cochise Co. Arizona. Widely distributed in New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and south into Central Mexico. W. Hubert Earle 1980


“C. (imbricated) erectus teretiuscuIus non angulatus superficie porcis sublobulaeformibus varie subimbricatim tessellatis.
INTROD. a Dom. Loddiges 1820, sub hoc nomine.
St.  ♄.
Species praesingularis distinctissima: at recte non examinavi. Affinis C. cylindrico, at robustior : sed forte cum illo genus proprium.” page 70, Haworth 1821.


Skeletons of stems (i.e. the woody vascular bundle) are “used for making ornamental furniture, napkin rings, picture frames, lamp stands and walking sticks.” Cuttings are also planted as hedges. p. 108 in Maxwell 1968.


A shrubby sometimes small tree-like cholla with a distinct short woody trunk. It has joints from 5 to 12 inches long which are 3/4 to and 1-1/2” in diameter, and grows from 6 to 10 feet tall. The joints are strongly tubercled and the tubercles are usually slightly flattened laterally to the stem. Numerous thin spines 3/4 to 1-1/4 inch long. Spines have a tan sheath initially which lasts until spring.

Flowers are magenta, borne terminally in clusters and are 2-3/4 inches in diameter. [Ed.: A rare white-flowering form from Cañon City, Colorado is sometimes available.]

Fruit are yellow and an inch to an inch and a half long. They bear few grey seeds.

This is a common desert plant, and also frequent in west central prairie grasslands. It is also widely cultivated as a xeriphytic landscaping specimen.

Type locality is not known; it was introduced into England in 1820

W. Hubert Earle 1980

[It is not infrequent to find it said or thought that the flowers on these plants are yellow. Generally, the source of the confusion is a source that has only seen them from a distance and mistaken the persistent yellow fruit for flowers. The white flowered saguaro cactus is the recipient of a similar error due to its red and splitting fruit.]

Schuster 1990: See page 146 for in habitat photo of Opuntia imbricata; next to Opuntia basilaris.


Reported to contain:

Tyramine (tlc, ms),

3-Methoxytyramine (tlc, ms),

Mescaline (tlc, ms)

3,4-Dimethoxy-β-phenethylamine (tlc, ms)

Mata & McLaughlin 1982 citing Meyer et al. 1980

Meyer et al. 1980 detected mescaline and the three other alkaloids using co-tlc in 5 solvent systems, and confirmed this with MS, but for some unexplained reason there was no apparent attempt at quantification. Normally McLaughlin’s research teams LOVE determining the most minute trace amounts; no matter how insignificant.
An additional unidentified alkaloid was observed with tlc.

This is a prolific and abundant species (some say a weedy pest) and, as such, should be examined more closely.


Cylindropuntia spinosior (Engelmann) Toumey

James William Toumey (1898) The Botanical Gazette, 25: 119 as Opuntia spinosior.
Frederik Marcus Knuth (1936) Kaktus-ABC, 126 [with Backeburg], as Cylindropuntia spinosior.
Originally Opuntia whipplei Engelmann & J.M.Bigelow var. spinosior Engelmann (1856) Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts, 3: 307.

Mescaline is present in trace amounts.


Cactus Country, VIC (cultivated)

Common name:  “Cane Cholla”

Etymology: from the Latin indicating a superior grade of “spiny”.

Distribution & occurrence: Occurs in eastern Arizona, western New Mexico and into northern Mexico.


SRSU, Alpine, Texas (cultivated)

This is a shrubby, often tree like species to 6 or 7 feet tall, covered with short, whitish spines and yellowish-white glochids. They tend to branch at right angles to the stems and have a short woody trunk up to 5 cm in diameter.

Brilliant flowers appear in May; purple or red but rarely yellowish or white. They are often 2 inches in diameter.

Fruits are yellow when ripe, almost spherical to egg-shaped with pronounced tubercles and deep pits on the top; seeds ~ 4 mm. in diameter, tan and few in number.

Earle 1980 & Benson 1982 & Weniger 1984

Olmos 1977 also features a color photograph of a specimen with flower on page 62.

These are rather hardy plants in the southern United States. Widely hated for their wicked barbed spines and widely loved for their ease of cultivation, striking appearance and beauty of flowers.


Cactus Country, VIC (cultivated)

Reported analysis:

Mescaline was detected to be present by MIKES (Mass-analyzed, ion kinetic energy spectra) No concentrations were indicated. Kruger et al. 1977

(They used a “small portion” of the extract obtained from 1 gram of freeze dried cactus.)

Cuttings taken from the plants allowed the isolation of 0.00004% mescaline. [40 μg per 100 grams of dry plant.]

Identity was determined by tlc, mp, ir and ms.

Tyramine (0.0018%) was also recovered. (Identified by tlc, mp, ir and ms)

As well as 3-Methoxytyramine at 0.0011% (Identified by tlc, mp, ir, ms) and 3,4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine in quantities too small to isolate satisfactorily (identified by tlc and ms).


SRSU, Alpine, Texas (cultivated)

They were only able to get satisfactory separation from mescaline during tlc with Ethyl acetate-Methanol-58% Ammonium hydroxide (17:2:1). [Other workers have reported inadequate separation when using this solvent system; see comments under DMPEA in The Cactus Alkaloids for details]

[Plants were chopped into small pieces before being frozen and freeze dried.]

They extracted 3.150 kg. by defatting with petroleum ether, basifying the marc, and moistened, macerated and extracted by percolation with 30 liters of chloroform. After the solvents were removed, the syrup was separated into phenolic and non-phenolic fractions by use of Amberlite IRA-401S resin. Plant said to have been dealt with as per an earlier paper. [See more comments under Trichocereus peruvianus in San Pedro.]

By use of preparative tlc with Diethyl ether-Methanol-58% Ammonium hydroxide (17:2:1) and subsequent recrystallizations, they recovered 1.2 mg. of mescaline.

Visualized with fluorescamine and tetrazotized benzidine.

Pardanani et al. (1978) Lloydia, 41 (3): 287-288


southeastern Arizona

Those last four images were wild, this next image set is cultivated:

Initially I thought this last set was Cylindropuntia spinosior but after spending adequate time examining the fruit and counting their areoles determined it is an intermediate between C. spinosior and C. imbricata that occurs naturally in Grant County, NM.

Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica

This is far more famous as Opuntia cylindrica Lamarck

This is now (once again)
Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica (A.L. deJussieu ex Lamarck) Backeberg


Opuntia cylindrica in Salinas, California (cultivated)

The presence of mescaline, as reported by Turner & Heyman 1960 and many earlier workers (1947-1959), was in error. [See Sacred Cacti Part B: San Pedro for more details].
Analysis was based on misidentified plants.

Their actual identity was Trichocereus pachanoi. An unmistakable, albeit poor, photo is included in Cruz Sanchez’s 1948 thesis. (I am grateful to my friend Dr. Carlos Ostolaza for tracking down a copy of this publication). Even in my  reproduction of that photo below, it is obviously not Opuntia cylindrica that was studied by Cruz Sanchez.


From Cruz Sanchez 1948. This is a scan of a photocopy of the original.

Authenticated Opuntia cylindrica was determined to contain no detectable alkaloids by Agurell 1969b.


Opuntia cylindrica at UC (cultivated)

Olmos 1977 has a nice color picture on page 43. [Compare with T. pachanoi on page 140; also in Olmos.]

One point needs to be emphasized: Trichocereus pachanoi entered Western horticulture in the 1930s and it is clear that Backeberg *and many others* equated the plant known in Peru as San Pedro with Trichocereus pachanoi, at least by that time. (It is not clear when Backeberg first became familiar with the use of T. pachanoi as a ceremonial drug plant; which he did not mention it in print until the late 1950s in Die Cactaceae.)


Opuntia cylindrica at Strybig (cultivated)

How this plant came to be misidentified Opuntia cylindrica in the 1940s and how that error could be perpetuated into the 1960s is a mystery I have not yet unraveled (but it is fascinatingly reminscent of Anhalonium lewinii‘s fictional recreation as a drug plant separate from what would otherwise have been a familar botanical source). I suspect that it probably began as a very simple error that involved a mislabeled or misidentified plant in the Lima Botanical Garden. That it was an error preserved primarily within the pharmaceutical/medical community as the name published for a known drug plant (and by extension perpetuated by the suppliers of Turner & Heymann) is suggested by both Trichocereus pachanoi and Opuntia cylindrica being long established and readily available as horticultural items by that same time period. For example, both species are offered in the 1957 Kuentz catalog.


Opuntia cylindrica at UC (cultivated)

The Opuntias

the supergenus Opuntia


Opuntia sp. Sinaloa

Opuntia is said to be derived from Opus, capital of Locris in ancient Greece (apparently due to some sort of a plant which grew near there) [Note 37].

Some years ago the Opuntias existed as many smaller genera. It was then lumped together into an unwieldy supergenus. It is now subdivided again, largely back into the same genera as before. It would be interesting to somehow be able to total how much time, human labor and resources were wasted by those two sets of name changes. I really feel for the academic & scientific indexing services.

This part of the larger work only includes a few of the Opuntia species. Most are included due to being reported to contain trace amounts of mescaline but the first two owe their inclusion to being erroneously claimed to contain mescaline.

The species with entries in Part A:
2 Austrocylindropuntia species (AKA Opuntia cylindrica & Opuntia pachypus)
Cylindropuntia species
Opuntia (Platyopuntia) species

Many more species are discussed in terms of their reported chemistry in Cactus Chemistry By Species.

A number of Opuntia species are featured in supernatural context in a wide variety of archeological depictions crossing many cultures and years. Most appear to be either small jointed or round jointed. In some cases the small jointed depictions are also distinctly spotted as can also be readily observed in a number of the Tephrocacti which bear dense round clusters of short glochids.

One curious example [Note 33], involving possible enema paraphernalia, shows a male and a female jaguar with clearly dilated pupils, each with four prickly pear pads portrayed on each of the necks of the stirrup vessel above them. A jaguar with dilated pupils is similarly distinctly depicted in the context of San Pedro cactus on a much more intricate stirrup vessel (which has been reproduced numerous places including Schultes & Hofmann’s Plants of the Gods. These vessels were made in molds and assembled. There are at least six distinct variants existing of the jaguar and San Pedro cactus theme with multiple copies being known.

The following image is from the Walters Art Museum.


from the Walters Art Museum

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Use of some forms of stirrup vessels for enema administration has not been proven (or even particularly well explored) but it may be pertinent to comment that one of the few depictions that I have encountered which depicts them in actual use,  portrays them as being used for this purpose [Note 34].

Very few Opuntia species have been analyzed. It is an enormous genus in need of phytochemical work. An interesting note was made in the 1949 Chemical Abstracts, when describing the work of Federico Falco and Sebastian Hilburg published in 1946/1947. They examined a number of Argentinean Opuntias. “The presence of alkaloid was demonstrated in every sample.” Clearly this is an area which deserves more attention.


The low mescaline content observed in the Opuntia species to date does not mean they all must be similarly low. Most Trichocereus species lack mescaline entirely and many which do contain it, do so in very low amounts. Even the high mescaline producers sometimes have only low concentrations.

As with  Trichocerei, most Opuntias have not been examined and the majority of plants such as Puna are also presently unexamined. However, a far lower percentage of the existing Opuntioid species have been analyzed compared to Trichocereus. And, only a trivial number of their close relatives, Maihuenopsis, Quiabentia, Pereskiopsis, Pterocactus and Tacinga, have; with trace amounts of mescaline reported in one Pereskiopsis species.


Opuntia sp. Peru 57.0604