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Is Trichocereus scopulicolis psychoactive?
Q: Does anyone have any information on the alkaloids present in the cactus trichocereus scopulicolis? Does it contain mescaline, and, if so, in what concentrations? History of traditional use?

I bought some of this cactus from a nursery where I have previously bought pachanoi and peruvanius. The guy who sold it to me said that scopulicolis was similar in alkaloid content to pachanoi and that it was regarded even more highly amongst Indians than pachanoi. I have looked through numerous books I have on psychedelics and at various websites and have found no information on this cactus. Can anyone help?

A: This cactus was named Trichocereus scopulicola by Friedrich Ritter, respelled Trichocereus scopulicolus by Curt Backeberg (along with a note saying he could not find a description for it) and most recently renamed Echinopsis scopulicola based on Roy Mottram's opinion as expressed to David Hunt. It has apparently NEVER seen any type of analysis so no one really knows what is in it other than mescaline. It's worth commenting though that no "new" and useful mescaline-containing cactus has appeared in the mainstream literature since 1978, and I suspect it will remain this way until the end of the drug war. Whether none has seen analysis or simply not been published is anyone's guess.

Mescaline has been reported present based entirely on human bioassays of material in the US and in Australia. Around a kilo (800-1000 gm) is recommended by Voogelbreinder in Australia. Its said to be either equipotent with pachanoi or 2X pachanoi but since pachanoi is known to exist that is over 30X stronger than other pachanoi, comments like that have to be taken with a large grain of salt. It's actually been eaten quite a bit by humans in Australia who thought they were eating pachanoi and never bothered to mention it until friends of theirs commented about eating scopulicola and pointed out it was not pachanoi. The only book I know of presently which even discusses this species as a psychedelic cactus is Sacred Cacti Second Edition, and the 3-part article on hallucinogenic cacti that just ran in the Entheogen Review.

It has NO reports of indigenous use in Bolivia that have ever been published (traditional or nontraditional). Please also bear in mind that MOST of what gets called "San Pedro" in Bolivia is actually Trichocereus bridgesii, which can also be excellent. The line stated by the seller is either mistaken or perhaps was fabricated to help sales or else is based on rare and elusive information I have never come across. Use of any of the psychedelic cactus species in Bolivia seems to be minimal outside of recreational use. Scopulicola does NOT occur in Peru.

There are two claims made for the indigenous use of mescaline-containing cacti in Bolivia but these either lack a reference (such as Dickson's article in a 1978 issue of Head magazine which failed to even notice that her "pachanoi" were in fact bridgesii) or else cited a reference that does not appear to be available to anyone (Raetsch cited Geise's 1989 book Curanderos: Traditionelle Heiler in Nord Peru as his only references. I've had Interlibrary loan and friends in both Germany and Italy trying to locate this book for almost two years. So far, no one can even verify it exists much less track down a copy.)

People should always be at least a little suspicious when any sort of claims are made about "Indians" that contain no details of who or where. If there is even a shred of truth to it, I'd love to learn more. However, if you delete the word "Indians" from his statement and inserted "some drug users" then it would in fact be a true statement.

A description of scopulicola with pictures can be found at


See also:

Sacred Cacti and Some Selected Succulents

Trout's Notes on Cactus Chemistry by Species

and other title available at the Trout's Notes website

Asked By : belly
Answered By : Sophie
Published Date : 9 / 6 / 2001
Last Edited Date : 9 / 6 / 2001
Question ID : 2820

Categories: [ Chemistry ] [ Cacti ] [ Mescaline ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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