Echinopsis peruviana (syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), the Peruvian torch cactus, is a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the western slope of the Andes in Peru, between about 2,000–3,000 m (6,600–9,800 ft) above sea level.
Echinopsis peruviana is one of a number of Echinopsis species native to the Andes that have been reported to contain the psychoactive alkaloid mescaline. Others include E. pachanoi, E. lageniformis, E. scopulicola, E. santaensis and E. puquiensis. All those columnar species thought to be psychoactive have been called “San Pedro” in Spanish. Reported concentrations of mescaline vary widely, with causes suggested to include: taxonomic uncertainty leading to difficulties in identification; genetic differences between species and within populations; environmental factors, such as temperature and water availability, affecting plants during growth; and variations in laboratory techniques.
Peruvian Torch | Peruvian torch cactus Contains Mescaline
Some studies have reported no mescaline content in wild-harvested Peruvian specimens of E. peruviana, and in plants grown in Europe. In those studies that have compared different species and cultivars, when mescaline has been found, it has been at very much lower concentrations than in the highest yielding forms of other species; for example 0.24% of dry weight for E. peruviana KK242 compared to 4.7% for a strain of E. pachanoi on sale in traditional Peruvian shamans’ markets, a factor of almost 20 times less.
How To Identify Peruvian Torch Cactus
The plant is bluish-green in color, with frosted stems, and 6-9 broadly rounded ribs; it has large, white flowers. It can grow up to 3–6 m (9.8–19.7 ft) tall, with stems up to 8–18 cm (3.1–7.1 in) in diameter; it is fully erect to begin with, but later possibly arching over, or even becoming prostrate. Groups of 6-8 honey-colored to brown rigid spines, up to 4 cm (1.6 in) in length, with most about 1 cm (0.39 in), are located at the nodes, which are evenly spaced along the ribs, up to approximately 2.5 cm (0.98 in) apart.
How to Grow Peruvian Torch Cactus
If you’re going to harvest the arm of a Echinopsis peruviana — especially if its a wild one — you can repay the favor by vegetatively propagating (i.e., cultivating) a baby San Pedro cactus. At first glance, this is easy— all you need to do is put a cutting of the cactus into the soil, either in a pot or in the ground (depending on where you live). However, there are two very important tricks to this process.
- Be sure to give the wound (the cut surface) at least 2–3 weeks to “cure” (dry over) before planting it in soil. Otherwise it may rot.
- Do not water it for the first 3–4 weeks, which may seem counter-intuitive. The cutting prefers to live off of its own internal moisture for the first few weeks before additional water is required. Otherwise — again — it may rot.
How much Peruvian Torch to Trip
I’ve never observed a strict regimen of dietary restriction before consuming Echinopsis peruviana . It’s not a bad idea, and if you are inclined toward fasting/dietas, I would recommend it, but it’s not necessary. At the very least, be mindful of what you eat the day before. Also, be sure to properly hydrate yourself the day before. During the journey itself, you don’t want a stomach full of water, especially in the morning, but don’t dehydrate yourself either.
With Echinopsis peruviana, I think the most important component of preparation is what you put into your head during the days before your journey. The best way to fast before San Pedro is to reduce or even eliminate screen time and exposure to media, preferably for several days. Try to go to your chosen place a few days ahead of time, and allow your internal rhythm to gradually slow down to a similar frequency as the land around you. You can also use that time to shape your intentions. Quickly jumping from everyday life into a Echinopsis peruviana experience is not wise.