What Is San Pedro Cactus

San Pedro cactus, also known as Echinopsis pachanoi (syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), is a fast-growing columnar cactus that is indigenous to the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 2,000-3000 meters (6,600-9,800 feet). [2] [3] It grows in different regions of the world and is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru[4][5]. It is commonly planted as an ornamental cactus and is used in traditional medicine and traditional veterinary medicine. In the Andes Mountains area, it has been utilized for healing and religious divination for more than 3,000 years. [6] It can occasionally be mistaken for its close relative Echinopsis peruviana (Peruvian torch cactus).

In the US, is the San Pedro cactus forbidden?

According to Australia’s Poisons Standard, mescaline is a category 9 poison (February 2020). While the peyote cactus and other mescaline-containing plants like San Pedro are forbidden in Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, they are permitted for ornamental and gardening use in Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales[1].

Due to the prohibitions specified on Portaria SVS/MS no344, possession, manufacture, and sale are prohibited.


Peyote is permitted but mescaline and any salt of mescaline is prohibited (lophophora).

[3] Other plants, such the San Pedro cactus, are not exempt and may only be grown for decorative purposes. [4]

“Cacti and seeds from Echinopsis pachanoi, Echinopsis peruviana, and other species that contain the drug mescaline are prohibited. (3,4,5-trimethoxy-phenethylamin).” [5]

The decree defining the list of drugs categorized as narcotics on February 22, 1990 includes mescaline as one of those substances[6].

Lophophora williamsi has been “relegated” on February 22, 1990 after first being listed in table B of drugs in 1966 and then table A of dangerous substances in 1957.

No restrictions apply to cacti. The Anlage I BtMG governs mescaline. Without a license, it is forbidden to produce, possess, import, export, buy, sell, procure, or administer it. [7]

The cultivation, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, storage, consumption, or distribution of mescaline are all prohibited under the NDPS Act in India.

It is prohibited to buy, transport, or sell mescaline because it is included under Table 1 of Italy’s “Tabelle delle sostanze stupefacenti e psicotrope.” Except for Peyote, psychotropic cacti can be bought legally from florists, garden centers, and online stores. [8]

Both mescaline and peyote are prohibited according to the Ley General de Salud. It does not mention the Peruvian Torch or the San Pedro cactus, thus they are completely lawful.

What are the uses of the San Pedro cactus?

Currently, treating illnesses that are supposed to have been brought on by witchcraft is the most popular usage of Cimora and San Pedro.

[13] For the hallucinogenic effects of the mescaline present in the Trichocereus pachanoi cactus, however, there are also casual drinkers of the concoction. [16] San Pedro is grown legally, however it is banned in some countries and decriminalized in others to use it for its mescaline. [4]

Toms Tello’s album Cimora has been credited as being inspired by cimora and its curative qualities,[17] demonstrating how persistent the brew’s influence is.

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 utilized for ritualistic purposes. [2] [3] [4]

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.

Is it forbidden to consume San Pedro cactus?

Finally, we must consider the legality problem in San Pedro. The mescaline in the cactus can be extracted, however growing it as a decorative plant is permitted. This is due to mescaline being a prohibited, Schedule 1 narcotic in the US.

The legality of the San Pedro cactus depends entirely on intent in the United States and numerous other countries. As long as there is no intention to prepare, sell, or use San Pedro or other mescaline-containing cacti for psychedelic purposes, growing them is completely legal.

The legality of the San Pedro cactus depends entirely on intent in the United States and numerous other countries.

However, things are a little bit different in the Andean Nations. Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, and Peru all permit the use and trade of the San Pedro cactus as a herbal remedy.

San Pedro celebrations are openly promoted in numerous tourist attractions in these nations. Even the powdered “simply add water” variety of San Pedro is available at most markets.

The San Pedro cactus is a magnificent aesthetic plant, but because it contains large amounts of the hallucinogenic component mescaline, eating the plant is prohibited in many nations. It is totally safe and legal to grow it as a decorative plant, but gardeners should still keep it away from kids and pets.

What can you eat from a San Pedro cactus?

Cacti are fleshy and appear to be suitable as vegetables. It’s crucial to understand that there are edible and deadly cacti varieties before you start eating them.

All authentic cactus fruit is safe to consume. After the spines are removed, some varieties of cactus, including cholla, dragon fruit, and prickly pear, can be used as vegetables. Other cactus species, such as peyote, Bolivian, and San Pedro, are poisonous and should not be consumed.

Cacti of many types are frequently planted as indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. Check to see if the cactus variety is poisonous or suitable for people or pets to eat before choosing it for your garden.

What distinguishes 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 minimize moisture loss and protect themselves from herbivores.

Size & Growth

The San Pedro cactus is a quickly expanding, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree that can reach heights of 19.7 feet and widths of up to 5.9 feet.

The thickness of a stem varies from 2.4 to 5.9 inches, and it can contain 4 to 8 ribs per stem. Spines are either dark yellow or light brown.

These cactus have the capacity to grow up to one foot every year when given the correct conditions for moisture, sunlight, and soil.

The areoles on the stems face upward and range in color from light green to blue-green as they get older.

Flowering and Fragrance

The fragrant, night-blooming blossoms are about 8.7 inches in diameter and are open all night.

The fruit is covered in black or brown scales and hairs and is 1.2 inches in diameter and 1.9 to 2.4 inches long.

Light & Temperature

After the first year, San Pedro grows well in the sun, though seedlings may get sunburned. In general, Trichocereus pachanoi thrives under summer heat in mild shade.

A plant that overwintered indoors should be progressively introduced to direct light because doing so immediately could result in sunburn.

With the odd brief dip as low as 15.8 degrees Fahrenheit, a healthy San Pedro can endure temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) (-9 C).

The usage of Valerian flower extract may help to increase this resilience to cold.

Watering and Feeding

This cactus will become dormant in the colder months, as is the case with many succulents, therefore between October and April it shouldn’t be watered to prevent rot from developing.

Although adults can be fed an undiluted dosage of fertilizer, seedlings may occasionally receive a relatively diluted mixture.

If you do feed, only fertilize during the growing season and use a liquid fertilizer that has been diluted.

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 meters 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 centimeters 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 meters. San Pedro flowers have a lovely white color 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 fertilizer. 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.