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Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs
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Section 2 :
Brief summary of the Malpighiaceous ayahuasca source plants

    Adapted from Bristol 1966a (page 114), Ott 1994 (page 16) and Schultes 1978 pages 322-328.

B. caapi or B. inebrians are the most commonly used but other Malpighiaceous plants are known or believed to be either used as the basis for the drink or incorporated as an admixture.

Banisteriopsis argentea See as Banisteriopsis muricata

Banisteriopsis caapi (Spr. ex Griseb.) Morton [said by Gates 1982 to be synonymous with B. inebrians and B. quitensis despite reports of chemical differences. Gates considers them "chemical variants"] This is perhaps the most common source plant of ayahuasca. Numerous studies of this plant lacked vouched material and many vouchers have been made which were sterile. Frequently cultivated by numerous people but many groups do not and rely on wild material. Garcia-Barriga 1958, Rivier & Lindgren 1971 and Schultes 1957. See also Bristol 1966, Ott 1994, and Schultes 1969a, 1969c, 1970 and 1972a.

Widely cultivated in Amazonian Brazil, Boliva, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Collected in flower December_August and in fruit March_August. Gates 1982.

Banisteriopsis Cabrerana Cuatrecasas [See as = Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) B.Gates] [Malpighiaceae]

Banisteriopsis elegans (Triana & Planch.) Sandwith. Not reported as an ayahuasca component but Bora use the leaves for oral sores in children Duke & Vasquez Martinez 1993

Banisteria ferruginea A Banisteria species, called yajé, used in Ecuador was said to be close to this species is appearance, in Gagnepain 1930. Identity was not clear. From Schultes 1986a.

Banisteriopsis inebrians Morton [said by Gates 1982 to be synonymous with Banisteriopsis caapi despite reports of chemical differences.] A common source plant of ayahuasca. Garcia-Barriga 1958, Rivier & Lindgren 1971 and Schultes 1957. See also Bristol 1966, Ott 1994, Schultes 1969a, 1969c, 1970 and 1972a.

Banisteriopsis quitensis (Ndz.) Morton [said synonymous with B. caapi and B. inebrians by Gates 1982.] Source plant for the drink. Schultes 1957). See also Bristol 1966, Ott 1994 and Schultes 1986b.

Banisteriopsis longialata (Ndz.) B.Gates Said to sometimes be used. Schultes 1957 and Duke & Vasquez M. 1993. [Occasional admixture: (reliable report)] Bristol 1966 cited Schultes 1957

Banisteria leiocarpa Not reported as an ayahuasca additive but the intriguing common name of huillca bejuco ["vine of huillca"] was given for an herbarium voucher of Peruvian material. Von Reis Altschul 1975.

Banisteriopsis lucida [Malpighiaceae] Not reported in ayahuasca but used in fishing magic in Venezuela. Ott 1994 cited Boom & Moestl 1990.

Banisteriopsis lutea [= B. nitrosiodora (Griseb.) O'Don. & Lour.] "Possible" source plant. Schultes 1986b and Ott 1994. Said to be a source plant by Henry. Schultes 1986 Has a common name of huillca bejuco ("vine of vilca") suggesting its use. Gates 1982.

Banisteriopsis martiniana (Juss.) Cuatrecasas [Malpighiaceae] Possible source. Ott 1994 cited Schultes 1957 and/or 1986b.

Banisteriopsis Martiniana (Juss.) Cuatrecasas var. laevis Cuatrecasas[= Banisteriopsis martiniana var. subenervia:Gates 1982] Schultes 1957 and Schultes 1975a. See Ott 1994 who cited Gates 1982, Gates 1986, Schultes 1957 and Schultes 1986b.

Distributed in Amazonian Brazil and Peru, Columbia (Upper vaupés) and Venezuela (upper Orinoco). Collected in flower January, March-June and August-November and in fruit June, August and September. Gates 1982.

Schultes 1975a cited García-Barriga 1975 as reporting its use by the Makuna of the middle Apaporis.

Banisteriopsis metallicolor (Juss.) O'Donell & Lour. See as Banisteriopsis muricata.

Banisteriopsis muricata Cav. [= B. argentea, B. metallicolor, etc.. Gates 1982] A minor source plant. Schultes 1957. Ott 1994 cited Schultes 1957 and Schultes 1986b. Said to be a source plant by Herrera (ayahuasca of the Valle de Lares) Schultes 1986a.

[Ed.: While this is the most widespread Banisteriopsis species, it is infrequently used; probably due to the low alkaloid content. Despite this, it has both a unique β-carboline in need of human evaluation at active levels and reports do exist that suggest activity when it is used as the sole ingredient in ayahuasca preparation. [Perhaps noteworthy is that the Waorani ingest this species as a solitary and aggressive act in contrast to the social and communal use of ayahuasca by other groups. Davis & Yost 1983.]

Distributed from Chiapas, Mexico throughout South America to Argentina. Collected in flower and fruit in every month of the year. Gates 1982.
Used to treat dogs. Duke & Vasquez M. 1993

Banisteriopsis rusbyana. [= B. longialata. Gates 1982] Material analyzed under this name or discussed by ethnobotanists using this name is most likely Diplopterys cabrerana as properly identified B. rusbyana is a different plant. Please see comments elsewhere here and/or in Gates 1982. It is unclear (and seemingly unlikely) if any verifiable (flowering) B. rusbyana has ever seen any type of chemical or pharmacological analysis.

Callaeum antifebrile (Griseb.) Johnson [= Cabi paraensis, Mascagnia psilophylla var. antifebrilis] [Malpighiaceae] Schultes 1957) and de Siqueira-Jaccoud 1959. Analysis as Cabi parensis see de Siqueira-Jaccoud 1959. Cabi paraensis mentioned as source plant by Siqueira-Jaccoud (near mouth of Amazon) but Ducke denied that there was any narcotic use of the plant. Ríos was of the belief that ayahuasca of the Río Ucayali in Peru was Cabi paraensis but did not mention vouched material to support this; Bristol 1966 cited de Siqueira-Jaccoud 1959, Ducke 1943, Ríos 1962.

Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) B.Gates [= B. cabrerana, and SOME of the material called B. rusbyana: Gates 1982] Used as a DMT containing admixture rather than as an MAOI source. See separate entry elsewhere in this work.

Distributed in Amazonian Brazil (also near Belém, Pará, Brazil), Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Collected in flower September and in fruit April, October_December. Said to rarely flower. Flowering specimens have come from river margins. Often cultivated. Gates 1982. Admixture used in the Colombian Putumayo. Schultes 1986

Lophanthera lactescens Ducke Little is known. Schultes 1986b and Ott 1994. [An alkaloid of unknown structure, named lophantherine, has been isolated from this species. Leaves of Lophanthera pendula are used in Brazil as a diuretic. Schultes 1983]

Mascagnia glandulifera Cuatrecasas Suspected source plant; little is known. Schultes 1978b.

Mascagnia psilophylla (Juss.) Griseb. var. antifebrilis Ndz. [= Callaeum antifebrile (Griseb.) Johnson ] Suspected source plant; poorly defined. See under Callaeum. See also Ott 1994.

Tetrapterys mucronata Cavanilles (= Tetrapteris mucronata = Triopterys mucronata (Cav.) Raeusch)

Source plant for the drink. Used by Karaparana of Río Apaporis in Colombia. Schultes 1978. Ott 1994 cited Schultes & Raffauf 1990.

Reported occurrences: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela. Distribution information from

Tetrapterys styloptera Jussieu [= Tetrapteris styloptera = Tetrapterys methystica R.E.Schultes (Tetrapteris methystica)= Bunchosia squarrosa Griseb. = Tetrapterys squarrosa (Griseb.) Griseb.)

Used by Makú of Río Tikié in northwestern Brazil. [Stembark is used alone to brew caapi.] Ott 1994 cited Schultes 1954a, Schultes 1957 and Schultes & Raffauf 1990. Also in Schultes 1986a. Also Schultes 1975a citing Schultes 1954a. [Source plant for the drink. Bristol 1966 cited Schultes 1957.] Schultes found it a potent hallucinogen in a bioassay during 1948. Karapana living on the Rio Kananarí in Colombia use to prepare yajé. Schultes 1986 [Tetrapteris styloptera Juss. is used medicinally as a febrifuge and styptic by the Colombian Tanimuka on the Rio Miritiparaná. Also considered and important medicinal plant by the Makuna. Schultes 1975a and Schultes 1983.]

Reported occurrences: Panama, Colombia, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela. (Distribution information is from W3Tropicos at

Note: Tetrapterys commonly appears spelled Tetrapteris. These are often not completely cross-referenced by compilers so it is a good idea to check both spellings if searching data bases and herbarium records.

A Malpighiaceous vine is said to be called Paricá but herbarium vouchers are apparently lacking. There is at least one report of a snuff called paricá showing only the presence of alkaloids normally thought of from Banisteriopsis species. There has thusfar been only one report witnessing Banisteriopsis used in preparation of a snuff. [INSERT REFERENCE]

I would suggest that the aforementioned Tetrapteris species as well as Diplopterys pauciflora (G.F.W. Meyer) Niedenzu [= Tetrapterys pauciflora (G.F.W. Meyer) DC] are overdue for an analysis.