Anhalonium lewinii Henn.
Anhalonium williamsii (Lem.) C.F.Först.
Ariocarpus williamsii (Lem.) Voss
Echinocactus lewisii (Henn.) K.Schum.
Lophophora echinata Croizat
Lophophora jourdaniana Haberm.
Lophophora lewinii (Henn.) Rusby
Lophophora lewinii C.H.Thomps.
Lophophora lutea (Rouhier) Backeb.
Lophophora pentagona (Croizat) V.Gapon
Lophophora pluricostata (Croizat) V.Gapon
Mammillaria lewinii (Henn.) H.Karst.
Mammillaria williamsii (Lem.) J.M.Coult.
Peyotl xochimilcensis F.Hern.
Peyotl zacatensis F.Hern.
Common Name: Peyote
Lophophora williamsii is a low-growing, spine-free cactus growing from a long, spindle-shaped rootstock. It produces one to several globose to flattened globose stems around 2 - 6cm tall and 4 - 11cm in diameter, with clumps that can be 100cm wide[
The plant has a long history of use by native peoples, both as a medicine and as a hallucinogenic plant used for spiritual purposes. Both uses continue to the present day, and the plant is harvested on a large scale for personal use and to make medicines on a commercial scale. The plant is also grown as an ornamental.
Lophophora williamsii is heavily harvested in the wild throughout much of the range of the species, in some areas to the point of extirpation, providing evidence that at least 30% of the population will be lost. This reduction is very likely to be irreversible given that whole individuals are harvested and population regeneration is thus unlikely. Even though the species has a very large range, land use change is a significant threat for some subpopulations and the levels of exploitation are not likely to stop in the near future. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
Peyote is rich in alkaloids and has a long history of medicinal and shamanic use, especially in Mexico. For medicinal use, the plant is normally applied externally. Taken internally in the right quantities, the plant causes halucinations and is used by shamans in divination, spiritual healing etc. In larger quantities it can lead to violent seizures and death[
Southern N. America - southern Texas, northeastern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas)
Xerophyllous scrub, including Tamaulipan thorn scrub, growing on calcareous soils; at elevations from 100 - 1,900 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
In cultivation, Cactus plants generally will not succeed in moist climates. They usually require a sunny position in a well-drained, circumneutral soil and to be kept more or less dry in the dormant season[
Peyote has long been used by indigenous peoples both as a medicine and for spiritual purposes. It is sought after especially for its effects upon the mind, senses and emotions. In more recent years, a wide variety of ointments for medicinal use, especially as an analgesic and for treating inflammations, have been produced on a large scale and made widely available in Mexico[
Peyote contains more than 50 alkaloids but the most important is mescaline, which has psychotomimetic effects similar to those of LSD and psilocybin. Mescaline causes one to experience vivid colours and other enhancements of the senses. One does not lose consciousness, nor does one actually hallucinate, but the effects on the mind are impressive, to say the least. Early researchers noted that the peyote experience consisted of three main parts: abnormal sensory phenomena, an alteration of one's conscious states and attitudes, and abnormal emotional states. The person who ingests peyote usually experiences two distinct stages in which the ‘hangover precedes the ebriety’. Often unpleasant bodily symptoms occur first, including severe nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. The second phase follows in 3 - 4 hours and is characterized by euphoria and elation as well as pleasant fantasies. This is known as the psychic ‘intoxication’[
The effects of peyote can be very strong and seen as deeply spiritual, or as deeply disturbing or even terrifying. These effects have been partially or totally reproduced by using individual or groups of alkaloids isolated from the plant.
For shamanic purposes, the plant is consumed fresh or in water, after having macerated the dried plant. The ingestion of the plant makes it possible for the shaman to 'see' better and perform various functions such as to help the patient's treatment, divine the future etc[
In several regions of Mexico the main use of peyote is as an analgesic to relieve various muscular and rheumatic pains. For this purpose, the affected area is rubbed with the macerated plant or with its tincture. In Jalisco, it is prepared with alcohol and camphor to cure arthritis or different herbs are added such as guaco (Aristolochia taliscana), rue( Ruta graveolens), avocado (Persea gratissima), nutmeg(Myristica fragrans), valerian(Valerian sp.), basil (Ocimum basilicum), rosemary(Rosmarinus officinalis), pirul (Schinus molle), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Balsam de Peru (Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae). In each case it is left to ferment for eight days, to apply it at night or every third day, trying not to bathe on the day of treatment[
It is also used in a similar way and as a poultice to treat bruises, fractures, burns and wounds[
The plant is also applied topically or ingested to treat the bites of poisonous animals such as scorpions and snakes.
It is also recommended to treat fatigue or tiredness and to increase the endurance of runners, in which case it can be rubbed into the joints or swallowed. It is also reported as a treatment for fever, yellow fever and constipation[