The Peyote Cactus got its common name from the Nahuatl (Uto-Aztec language of prehispanic times in present-day Mexico) word "peyote" for "caterpillar" which presumably alludes to the outward similarity of the cactus with that animal.
The scientific name Lophophora williamsii is composed of the name of the plant genus Lophophora and the epithet "williamsii", which refers to the discoverer C.H. Williams, who as part of his trip to Bahia (Brazil) probably classified the peyote cactus in 1865.
Other names for the peyote cactus are el Mescalito, Challote, Mescal
Lophophora williamsii is one of the most famous and cacti of all time. The appearance of this plant is so overwhelming and aesthetically appealing that many people who see his magical cactus for the first time break down and cry.
His appearance is very characteristic. The cactus grows both individually and in clusters of many (mostly small) plants. An healthy Peyote has a green to blue-green / gray-green color and carries on its surface the coining wart-like bumps (areoles) from which protrude very smooth, yellowish white hair. These hairs have developed during evolution from the typical cactus spines.
The peyote cactus has -depending on phenotype- 4 to 14 ribs, which are often not as clearly developed as in other cacti, therefore can better be described as a slight bumps or intermediate grooves.
A single lophorphora williamsii reaches an height of up to 2,5 inches above the ground, underground there is still the taproot of the cactus, which is by far larger.
The Peyote is a very slow-growing cactus, even under the best conditions, a growth of 0.2 inches (diameter) is more optimistic.
The peyote cactus multiplies in different ways, in addition to the propagation through seeds, the cactus is capable of augmentation by developing new shoots at the stump of a plant that has been cut. The generation of new runners is another way the lophophora williamsii uses to prevail his heritage.
In summer (if stored correctly in winter, meaning at a cool and shady location with little watering) the lophophora williamsii generates extremely beautiful white to light pink flowers. If these flowers are pollinated, tiny purple-red cactus fruits occur at the top of the plant. These fruits contain the itsy-bitsy seeds of peyote cactus.
The peyote cactus needs a chalky, mineral-rich soil in order to grow.
The natural habitats of the peyote cactus stretch from northern and central Mexico to the south-west of the United States along the Rio Grande.
Since 2013 lophophora williamsii counts to the Vulnerable (VU) species according to the assessment of the IUCN. This might be caused by the commercial harvesting of the cactus in addition to the rearrangement of its natural habitat to open-range cattle country and breeding farms.
In 2005, several peyote buttons (dried lophophora williamsii cacti)were discovered as part of an archaeological investigation in a cave known as ”Shumla cave 5”. These dried cacti found on Rio Gande were examined using radiocarbon age determination.
The resulted data suggest that the lophophora williamsii cacti were bedded out and dried for ritual purposes approximately in 1770 BC.
The lophophora williamsii can be consumed orally by eating the dried or fresh cactus but also as a potion. No matter which of these methods is used, the horrible bitter taste of the plant will not be concealed. That´s why many consumers prefer producing the cactus powder aka mescaline powder (don`t confuse this with pure mescaline), since one can easily fill this into capsules an swallow them. The cactus powder will not be tasted and the first contact between active components and human body takes place in the stomach, were they can be absorbed properly. However, even when producing capsules with mescaline powder the consumer is not safe from the feeling of nausea and vomiting that is emerging very often before a mescaline trip.
Peyote at home?
The lophophora williamsii cactus is an especially ornamental plant and a real feast for the eyes, but he is one of the most challenging cacti and reacts very strongly to bad care.
I recommend this cactus only for persons / hobby gardeners who already have experience with cacti.
Those who are not blessed with a green thumb are in danger of killing the cactus by exaggerated irrigation (which can quickly lead to root rot), over fertilization (which can lead to a "etiolation" of the plant or even tearing of the peyotes skin) or exposing it to a sunburn etc.
Said cacti friends are warmly recommended to get an achuma, trichocereus peruviana or san pedro cactus, as they will cause them more joy with less effort. Who does not shrink but before botanical challenges before or has to use the cactus as a traditional medicine should buy a peyote. Everyone who is not afraid of a botanical challenge should undoubtedly buy a lophophora williamsii cactus.
If you are only interested in using this plant as traditional medicine and you don´t want to store this cactus outside your belly for too long go ahead and get one.
Buy a Peyote cactus
Feel free to browse for a cactus that you want, the offers displayed here are from a reliable dutch chandler. I made some good experiences with this shop, cacti were in perfect condition and shipping was fast. Keep in mind that it is perfectly legal to order a Lophophora williamsii cactus even if you life in the USA. As long as you don´t have the intention to consume the plant you are not doing something illegal!
Just click one of these images!