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Visionary Cactus Guide


The name of this Genus is derived from the Greek "thrix" or "tricos"' for hairy.

There is currently a great deal of controversy revolving around the true classification of the Tricocereus Genus and many of its member species. Some recent studies propose that most tricocereus cacti be merged into the Genus of Echinopsis. Since there is still a great deal of disagreement in this area, and since I am still unaware of any genetic data, the old (and best known) Genus of Tricocereus will be used until such time as sufficient information is available to the contrary.

There are 60 known species of Tricocereus, many of which contain psychoactive alkaloids.

T. andalgalensis -

Contains: candicine, hordenine.

T. bridgesii -

Fast growing, slender, columnar.

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

T. camarguensis -

Contains: tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, N-methyltyramine.

T. candicans -

Contains: candicine, hordenine, tyramine, N-methyltyramine.

T. chiloensis -

Reported to contain unspecified alkaloids. Native to Chili. Has 16 to 17 low, wide ribs, large tubercles. Grows to 3 meter tall with many thick branches. Large , round areoles with white wool, older ones appear sunken. This plant has 8 to12 , 4cm long spines, amber in color, with dark tips. White flowers with red and brown edges.

Keep these plants warm during the winter

Reported to contain unspecified alkaloids.

T. courantii -

Contains: tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, N-methyltyramine, N-methyl-3-methoxytyramine.

T. cuzcoensis -

Native to Cuzco, Peru.

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

T. fulvilanus -

Contains: mescaline, tyramine, N-methyltyramine.

T. grandiflorus -

Reported to contain unspecified alkaloids.

T. knuthianus -

Contains: tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine.

T. lamprochlorus -

Contains: hordenine.

T. litoralus -

Reported to contain unspecified alkaloids.

T. macrogonus -

Huge, columnar.

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

T. manguinii -

Contains: hordenine, tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine, N-methyltyramine.

T. pachanoi -

( San Pedro ) A common ornamental cactus which is still widely available for landscaping from local nurseries, particularly in desert states. Known to the natives as the sacred Cactus of the four winds. This plant is native to the western slopes of the Andes of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador were it can grow to over 5 meters. An extremely hardy cactus it does well in colder climates as it grows in the wild at altitudes of up to 3000 meters. It is very fast growing, averaging up to a half meter a year of new growth. When mature, the plants are large and multi-branched from the base, growing as a large shrub when older. A columnar shaped Cactus, with 4 - 8 broad and rounded ribs, 6 or 7 being the most common. Very rare is the 4 ribbed variety, which is highly prized among the Indians. The plant is also characterized by having 1 - 4 small spines per areole, dark yellow or brown in color.

The alkaloids present, including the majority of mescaline reside in the first 1 cm of skin. The green chlorophyl containing tissue under the skin appears to be where the majority of the alkaloids accumulate. The adjacent white tissue is low in, or totally lacking those active ingredients. The woody core is also considered esentially free of active alkaloids.( May contain some alkaloids that might alter the effects of ingestion )

Old specimens can have beautiful night-blooming flowers to 22 cm across that have a lovely smell reminiscent of " beach-nut gum " . Unfortunately it is difficult to get to bloom, especially in northern latitudes.

This Cactus grows best in mineral rich, well-drained soil containing some organic matter. Enjoys bright, but not full Sun and can tolerate abundant watering, does well indoors in pots. Natural habitat is in soil rich in humus and minerals, adequate rainfall, and maximal exposure to sun and wind. This species is also popular as grafting stock for smaller, slower growing cacti.

Used traditionally in divination, diagnosis of disease, finding lost or stolen property, and to possess another persons soul. A form of the original San Pedro religion still survives to this day, around Huacananda, Peru.

There has been some suggestion that T. Pachanoi is merely a less sun tolerant and less spiny variant of the rarer T. Peruvianus. I do not agree with that assertion as both species can interbreed and many hybrids exist, one of which was probably used as the basis of that observation.

Contains: mescaline (0.11 - 2.3%), 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, 3-methoxytyramine.

T. pascana -

Native to Argentina and southern Bolivia. A large, columnar plant to 10 meters high. Has 20 to 38 ribs on thick 30cm stems. Close set areoles with variable, yellow-brown spines to 14 cm long. This edible Cactus has nocturnal white flowers that sprout from the top of the stems.

Contains: candicine.

T. peruvianus -

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

Some studies reported up to 10% mescaline content by dry weight but a more reasonable and believable figure is in the 1 - 3% range. It contains only a few other psychoactive alkaloids, mainly tryptamines in much lower proportions.

Contains: mescaline (0.82%), 2-chloromescaline (.02%), tyramine (.009%), 3-methoxytyramine (.01%), 3-4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (.004%).

T. purpureopilosis -

Native to central Argentina. Was once classified as a Cereus. Plants grow to 1 meter tall, with a bunching growth habit, having a glossy green appearance. 12 low, blunt ribs, with white areoles, each bearing 15 to 20 pale yellow, radial spines.

Must be kept warm in the winter, needs a rich soil with plenty of manure.

Contains: tyramine, N-methyltyramine.

T. santiaguensis -

Contains: tyramine, hordenine.

T. schickendantzii -

Contains: hordenine, N-methyltyramine.

T. skottsbergii -

Contains: hordenine, N-methyltyramine.

T. spachianus -

Contains: hordenine, N-methyltyramine (.007%), candicine (.01%), mescaline, tyramine.

T. strigosis -

Native to western Argentina, a common plant in the Andes foothills. Was once classified as a Cereus. Plant have a large, bushy growth habit to 1 meter across and 60cm tall.Stem has 12 to 18 flat ribs, closely set areoles, each with 20 spines. A slow grower, but bears brilliant white, scented, nocturnal flowers.

Contains: candicine, hordenine, mescaline, tyramine.

T. taquimbalensis -

Native to Bolivia.

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

T. terscheckii -

Tall arborescent Native to Catamarca, Argentina.

Contains: mescaline, trichocereine.

T. thelegonoids -

Contains: hordenine.

T. thelegonus -

Contains: hordenine, N-methyltyramine.

T. tunariensis -

Contains: hordenine, tyramine.

T. validus -

Dwarf, clumping, pink flowers, native to Bolivia.

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

T. werdermannianus -

Tall, columnar, native to Bolivia.

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

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