How To Tell A San Pedro Cactus

First off, the San Pedro cactus belongs to the Echinopsis Pachanoi species of cactus. Trichocereus Pachanoi is another name for it, which we discuss in more depth below. San Pedro refers to one specific species, Echinopsis Pachanoi, despite the fact that some people (inadvertently) use it to refer to a variety of various columnar Echinopsis cacti.

Before we dive into the nuances of identifying the San Pedro cactus, there are a few key terms you should be familiar with.

The projecting rows that extend vertically from the plant’s crown to its base are known as ribs. Always growing along the border of the ribs are spines and blooms. By forming shaded troughs or pockets between them and boosting the surface area to disperse heat, cactus ribs assist in keeping the plant cool.

Areoles are tiny, spherical, pale or black bumps that develop centrally down the ribs. The areoles produce clusters of spines. The areoles also produce flowers.

The sharp needles that emerge from the areoles to form the spines are quite self-explanatory. Cactus spines are leaves that have undergone extensive modification over a long period of time to minimise moisture loss and protect themselves from herbivores.

About Trichocereus pachanoi

San Pedro cactus is the popular name for Trichocereus pachanoi (syn. Echinopsis pachanoi, Cereus pachanoi). This lovely columnar cactus is indigenous to the mountains of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and northern Argentina, where it can be found growing between 1200 and 2600 metres above sea level. Trichocereus pachanoi is a particularly resilient cactus that can resist harsh conditions, including freezing temperatures, in the Andes mountains (-11C).

Regarding the variety of spines on San Pedro Cactus, we frequently receive inquiries. Be not frightened. The spines of Trichocereus pachanoi vary greatly. Some plants’ stems are completely devoid of spines, while others have 3–8 yellow–brown spines. These spines might measure 1-3 centimetres in length. Additionally, a San Pedro cactus without spines may develop them later in life.

Trichocereus pachanoi (Echinopsis pachanoi) is a columnar cactus with 4–8 ribs and occasionally several stems that grows quickly—up to half its length in a year. In nature, it can grow to a height of 5 to 6 metres. San Pedro flowers have a lovely white colour and bloom at night. They also have a pleasant scent.

Cultivation of Trichocereus pachanoi

As was already said, San Pedro cactus is a very resilient plant that grows quickly and easily. The optimum soil for growing this cactus is one that is loose, well-draining, fertile, and allows for a steady release of nutrients. With a soil mixture of 50% ordinary potting soil, 25% grit or Perlite, and 25% worm manure, I get good results (compost). During the growing season, Trichocereus pachanoi requires routine irrigation as well as sporadic (roughly every two months) applications of additional liquid fertiliser. Older plants can withstand full sun (even outside the greenhouse), but younger plants should be handled carefully. When the light intensity is abruptly increased, they may turn red (stress). Keep these cacti cool and nearly dry in the winter, but try to keep them as well lit as you can to avoid etiolation (thin, yellow growth).

Trichocereus pachanoi from seed and cuttings

San Pedro cactus seeds are simple to germinate. By carefully following the seed-raising instructions, you can do this.

Cuttings of the San Pedro Cactus can also be rooted, for example in our specially formulated cactus rooting mix. Cactus rooting powder can help the rooting process go more quickly and effectively. Let the cut wound heal for a few weeks before adding the cutting to the rooting mix. Cuttings of the potted San Pedro Cactus will begin to root in about two to six weeks.

A hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus?

Since many cacti contain phenethylaminealkaloids like mescaline, they are known to be psychedelic.

[1] The most hallucinogenic species of the Echinopsis genus, which includes the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, also known as Trichocereus pachanoi), and the Lophophora genus, which includes peyote (Lophophora williamsii), are the two primary ritualistic (folkloric) genera. Other species from various genera are likewise psychoactive, however they are not necessarily utilised for ritualistic purposes. [2] [3] [4]


Red flowers on the Peruvian torch cactus have subtle colour variations. Some cultivars also have large, white blooms.

At dawn, the flowers begin to bloom.

They can be found in enormous profusion—50 or more per specimen—and bloom twice or three times a year, as well as occasionally in singles or pairs for an extra five to thirty days. The specific hybrid’s age and frequency rely on each other.

The San Pedro Cactus

In Mexico, Central America, and South America, you can find the San Pedro Cactus, a species of wild cactus. Cocaine is made and distributed using this particular species of cactus.

Because of the presence of mescaline, which can induce hallucinations or delusions in people who consume it orally while drinking alcohol, the San Pedro cacti are poisonous.

The Peruvian Torch (Echinopsis Peruviana) Cactus

In the wild, the Peruvian Torch (Echinopsis Peruviana) Cactus is a species of cactus that may be found all across South America.

The Peruvian Torch Cacti are dangerous because they contain alkaloids that, when swallowed orally, make people feel sick and can also give them hallucinations or delusions, so once more: USE CAUTION!

The Prickly Pear

The Prickly Pear also contains spines on its pads, but they do not contain any poisons that make them more harmful than other varieties. just the stems of this plant’s latex sap are present (which will irritate your skin).

However, it does yield prickly pear fruits, which are edible and used to make jams and jellies.

Peyote Cactus (Lophophora Williamsii)

Native American rites and rituals involve the use of the Peyote Cactus, a particular variety of cactus. Because it contains the psychedelic mescaline, which can result in hallucinations or delusions when taken by humans, it is often referred to as the “meat of God.” Again, BE CAREFUL!

The Barrel Cactus

The ribs of the barrel cactus carry a poisonous secretion that can irritate the skin. In order to defend itself from predators, it too has sharp needles on its pads, although these merely contain latex-like liquid instead of the toxins discussed earlier (which will irritate your hands).

The Cholla Cactus

A cactus that shoots needles is called a cholla cactus. It contains some of the same poisons as those previously listed, but unlike barrel cacti, it does not produce any latex-like fluid; instead, just the spikes are harmful to people (and animals).

This species may be found all over North America, from Canada to Mexico, where it thrives best at elevations of 2000 to 7000 feet above sea level. Depending on where you are in this region, winter temperatures can range from 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius) to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (+38C).

The Saguaro Cactus

Despite having several sharp, pointy spines that can irritate both humans and animals, the Saguaro Cactus is not harmful.

Many residents of Arizona’s desert regions, where these cacti thrive best, have said that they are one sort that will give you shade.

The San Pedro cactus may grow inside.

A San Pedro cactus can be grown indoors. One substantial cactus species that can be cultivated indoors is the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 10). They are no harder to care for than any other cactus because they need the same fundamental maintenance as other plants.

Where in the US does San Pedro grow?

There are several locations in Peru and Ecuador where you can discover the San Pedro cactus in the wild, but you will need to look hard for it. The eastern slopes of the Andes, between 1,800 and 2,800 metres above sea level, are the best bet.

In some areas, tree nurseries and flower stores sell the cacti legally to customers. In addition, it is commonly grown in gardens across several cities, including Cuenca and Quito in Ecuador and Cusco in Peru.

Where can you find San Pedro cacti domestically? The plant may be grown outdoors in several western and southern states as far north as Colorado, and it is grown and sold in many regions of the United States. In Arizona and Southern California, it thrives very well.

In Southern California and Arizona, the San Pedro cactus thrives.

The San Pedro plant prefers sunny, warm environments and only requires water and a few fertilisers. It often grows on hills with fertile soil. Make sure the cactus receives direct sunshine when being grown indoors; a windowsill facing south would be ideal. Giving it a little more water on a hot day is a smart move.

San Pedro must first be dried until the cutting wound has “healed” before it can be grown from a cutting; after that, it must be given time to take root in the ground (which can take up to a year). It takes a lot more time and work to grow something from seeds.

Is San Pedro the same as the Peruvian apple cactus?

Sometimes learning what a plant isn’t the greatest method to understand how to recognise it. Here are some images of various cactus species that are frequently mistaken for San Pedro cacti, along with some tips on what to look for.

Cereus Repandus (Peruvian Apple)

One of the cacti that people most frequently confuse with San Pedro is the Peruvian Apple, and it’s understandable why. They are both fast-growing columnar species with a similar colour, same areoles, and similar growth rates. You’ll see two things if you glance at the image to the right (or below if you’re on a mobile device):

Ribs: Compared to San Pedro ribs, ribs from Peruvian Apple Cactus are significantly flatter and skinnier. Additionally, when viewed from the top, this deepens the troughs/pockets between the ribs, making them in some plants almost as deep as the centre of the plant.

Spines: Compared to San Pedro cactus, Peruvian Apple cactus spines are typically much longer. When compared to San Pedro cactus, each areole on a Peruvian Apple Cactus often has one spine that is noticeably longer than the others.

Myrtillocactus Geometrizans (Blue Myrtle Cactus)

The columnar Blue Myrtle Cactus is a kind of cactus that is indigenous to northern and central Mexico. It can resemble San Pedro in appearance to the untrained eye, but there are some significant variances.

Blue spines Dark-black Myrtle Cactus spines have a dominating, very lengthy centre spine.

Color: True to its name, the Blue Myrtle Cactus frequently has a vivid blue colour to its skin. San Pedro cactus can sometimes appear pale blue or grey, but it is much less overtly coloured than Blue Myrtle.

Branches – The Blue Myrtle Cactus is a vigorous brancher, frequently “just a few years of growth are followed by pupping. Branches can grow up to halfway up the stem, and new branches can grow on top of existing ones to form a wild branch “a bushy appearance to the plant.

Pilosocereus Pachycladus (Blue Torch Cactus)

In the genus Pilosocereus, Pachycladus is the species that is most frequently farmed, however all of the species are together referred to as Blue Torch Cacti. These cacti are indigenous to South America’s Neotropics, with the majority of them being found in Brazil.

Spines: The spines of the blue myrtle cactus are pale in colour, 5 to 10 mm long, and sufficiently dense to cover the spines from the areoles above and below it. A tufted hairy areole, which is a definite identifying characteristic, is present in several species of Blue Torch.

Color: The Blue Torch cactus is most easily recognised by its bright blue hue. It is clearly distinguished from the delicate blue-green of the San Pedro cactus because it is by far the most overtly blue of all the cacti species.