|Peruvian torch cactus|
(Britton & Rose) Friedrich & G.D.Rowley
Trichocereus peruvianus Britton & Rose
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.
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.
Some varieties, with scientifically invalid names, of Echinopsis peruviana are:
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.
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.
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