San Pedro



san pedro ceremony-san pedro ceremony in peru-ayahuasca in peruThe San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi) is a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the Andes Mountains of Peru between 2000–3000 m in altitude. It is also found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, and it is cultivated in other parts of the world. Uses for it include traditional medicine and traditional veterinary medicine, and it is widely grown as an ornamental cactus. It has been used for healing and religious divination in the Andes Mountains region for over 3000 years. It is sometimes confused with its close relative, Echinopsis peruviana (Peruvian Torch Cactus).

Traditional medicineEchinopsis pachanoi has a long history of being used in Andean traditional medicine. Archeological studies have found evidence of use going back two thousand years, to Moche culture. Currently it is widely known and used to treat nervous conditions, joint problems, drug addictions, cardiac disease, and high blood pressure, and it has unique antimicrobial properties.

Echinopsis pachanoi contains hordenine and ".it has been shown that hordenine, N,N-Dimethyl-hydroxyphenylethylamine, exhibits an inhibitory action against at least 18 strains of penicillin resistant Staphylococcus bacteria

San Pedro contains a number of alkaloids, including the well-studied chemical mescaline (0.21 - 1.8%), and also 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine.

Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a psychedelic drug and entheogen, which is also found in some other species of genus Echinopsis (i.e. Echinopsis lageniformis, Echinopsis peruviana, and Echinopsis scopulicola) and the species Lophophora williamsii (peyote).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the highest concentrations of active substances are found in the layer of green photosynthetic tissue just beneath the skin.

There are various mescaline extraction techniques, simple (boiling in water 5 to 7 hours) and complex (such as an acid-base extraction), the latter technique yielding a material with a significantly higher concentration of mescaline.

 VarietiesVar. (KK339), Huigra, Chanchán, Southern Ecuador, short spines, light green epidermis.

 Loja, Southern Ecuador, short spines, dark green.

 Ayabaca, Northern Perú, very short spines, light green.


A newly planted Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro Cactus) cuttingUSDA Hardiness Zones:

Soil acidity: Alkaline

 San Pedro is very easy to grow in most areas. Because it grows naturally in the Andes Mountains at high altitude and with high rainfall, it can withstand temperatures far below that of many other cacti. San Pedro requires fertile, free-draining soil. They average half a meter per year of new growth. They are susceptible to fungal diseases if over-watered, but are not nearly as sensitive as many other cacti, especially in warm weather. They can be sunburned and display a yellowing chlorotic reaction to overexposure to sunlight. In warm areas it is best to keep them out of direct sun in mid-summer.

 In winter, plants will etiolate, or become thin, due to lower levels of light. This may be problematic if the etiolated zone is not sufficiently strong to support future growth as the cactus may break in strong winds. Some people also find it visually undesirable. If you wish to avoid etiolation when temperatures drop and growth rates slow, encourage it to enter winter dormancy by withholding water and fertilizer from it over the winter.

 Propagation from cuttingsLike many other plants, Echinopsis pachanoi can be propagated from cuttings. The result is a genetic clone of the parent plant. For example, the top 15-cm end of a cactus column can be cut off with a knife, then the cutting can be left to dry for about two weeks in the shade, or in a dry place. This is so that the surface of the cut end dries out like paper forming a seal to keep out microorganisms such as mold. The cutting can then be dipped in rooting hormone (optional, but effective) and planted on the surface of or buried to a maximum of 2.5 cm deep in good topsoil mixed with some sand and perlite. The cutting is kept in the shade or indirect sunlight, so that the root system can develop and the cactus does not grow too thinly. After about six months, significant roots will have formed and the cutting can be repotted in the same type of soil.

 The cactus column can be laid on its side on the ground, and eventually roots will sprout from it and grow into the ground. After time, sprouts will form and cactus columns will grow upward out of it along its length.