San Pedro Cactus - Origin, Seeds, Uses, Effects, Look Alike

San Pedro Cactus: Origin, Seeds, Uses, Effects, Look Alike

San Pedro Cactus, also known as Trichocerous Pachanoi, is a rapidly expanding columnar cactus indigenous to the Andes Mountains at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. It can be found in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina. It belongs to the Cactaceae family.

San Pedro has a maximum height of 20 feet and a maximum width of 6 feet. As stems age, they typically turn a darker shade of green or blue-green.

San Pedro cactus

The San Pedro cactus is a native of South America and contains psychoactive chemicals. For more than 3,000 years, the Andes have embraced the use of cactus, also known as Huachuca or Cachuma, as a sacred object.

San Pedro includes mescaline, a phenethylamine alkaloid with hallucinogenic properties that activates serotonin receptors. Healers or curers use San Pedro in conventional settings to make medical diagnoses.

The plant can also be taken in mesa rituals to help treat ailments. The use of San Pedro cactus to treat trauma, addictions, or disorders is becoming widely known.

How to identify San Pedro Cactus

San Pedro cactus can be identified by the following:

1. Ribs

There are always 6 to 8 circular ribs on a San Pedro cactus. When the cactus is highly dry, the troughs or pockets in between ribs only sink deeper into the center of the plant.

2. Areoles

Areoles on the San Pedro cactus are light or white. Their appearance is fuzzy. Sometimes, we refer to it as a notch or “eyebrow.”

3. Spines

The San Pedro spine is tiny(2–5mm) and upward-pointing. Each areola has 6 spines on average.

4. Colour

A San Pedro can be either a deep forest green or a faint blue.

5. Flowers

Like most other cacti, San Pedro blooms at night with gigantic, white flowers.

6. Branches

“Pups,” essentially branches, are produced by mature San Pedro. These pups typically develop close to the cactus’ base and can grow vertically.

San Pedro cactus seeds

San pedro cactus seed
Source: WeberSeeds

Sandy soil with some peat and perlite helps the seeds to sprout successfully. To boost humidity and speed up the germination process, you must partly bury the seeds, water them cautiously, add another layer of soil, and, if possible, cover them with clear plastic.

These cacti were once believed to only thrive in severe desert temperatures. Still, they recognize them now as they tolerate adequate moisture and speed up their growth pace as long as we don’t go overboard, as fungi can emerge.

Direct sunlight, watering without wetting the substrate, and monthly fertilizing are necessary for it to grow correctly. The cottony cochineal is one of the pests that might harm the San Pedro cactus, but by applying routine preventive measures, you can avoid insect infestations.

San Pedro cactus flower

San pedro cactus flower
Source: iStockPhoto

Like most other cacti, San Pedro blooms at night with gigantic, white flowers. White blossoms are produced at the tips of the stems, and they unfold at night and bloom for about two days.

A grown, robust cactus should only bloom once a year. However, depending on age, variety, and growth environment, some species can flower a year or more thrice.

The flowers are enormous, with lengths of 19–24 cm and diameters of up to 20 cm, and are very scented. The thick base extending to the blossom is covered in black hairs. After fertilization, oblong, dark green fruits measuring about 3 cm by 6 cm are formed.

Is San Pedro cactus legal?

San Pedro cactus is legal. Every day, commercial nurseries and home gardeners sell San Pedro. San Pedro is a mystical plant, although many purchase it for landscaping or as an aesthetic plant in a pot. However, preparing it for consumption is prohibited.

Mescaline is biosynthesized and naturally created by living organisms, just like all naturally occurring psychoactive. Transporting cacti might be prohibited, as mescaline is prohibited according to international law. Using San Pedro as a healing ritual is legal for individuals outside of Peru’s indigenous culture.

How to grow San Pedro cactus

San Pedro cacti can be grown in a variety of methods, such as:

  • Growing San Pedro from cuttings

After slicing the cactus, let the segments to “callus” (dry out) for at least two weeks. The cutting can then be planted in the soil after that. When trimming your cactus, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle to avoid creating a surface where water can settle when the cut dries.

  • Growing San Pedro from a seed

San Pedro cactus seeds need shade, moist soil, and humidity to germinate. Make sure it is in a warm, sunny area. Put moist cactus soil in the center of a plastic takeaway container. You can add a layer of zeolite or washed sand to the cactus soil about 1 cm thick to protect it from pests.

How to use San Pedro cactus

Traditional Andean civilizations use San Pedro for ceremonial purposes based on the cactus’ therapeutic qualities. San Pedro was initially used to cure various diseases due to its diuretic and antibacterial qualities; this also covers general pain, skin infections, and snakebite injuries.

In addition, it has several therapeutic effects associated with mescaline, which they are currently researching for its capacity to treat some mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. As a result, these cultures see it as a valuable source of spiritual healing and change.

Where to buy San Pedro cactus

The San Pedro cactus proliferates and thrives in climates with moderate temperatures. It can endure temperatures much lower than many other cacti as it grows naturally in the Peruvian Andes Mountains at a high altitude and with a lot of rainfall. It needs rich, well-draining soil.

Although they are not nearly as delicate as many other cacti, particularly in warm weather, they are prone to microbial diseases if over-watered. When exposed to too much sunshine, they might get burnt and have a yellowish chlorotic reaction. You can purchase San Pedro cactus seeds on

San Pedro cactus look-alikes

Below are examples of a species that you can often mistake for a san Pedro cactus

1. Cereus Repandus (Peruvian Apple)

One of the cacti that are most frequently mistaken for San Pedro is the Peruvian Apple.

Cereus Repandus (Peruvian Apple)
Source: iStockPhoto

They are both fast-growing columnar species with similar color, the same areolas, and similar growth rates.

Compared to San Pedro ribs, the ribs of a Peruvian Apple Cactus are significantly flatter and thinner. Also, it is substantially deeper troughs/pockets between the ribs, which in some plants almost reach the center of the plant when reviewed from the top. They have much longer spines compared to San Pedro.

2. Myrtillocactus Geometrizans (Blue Myrtle Cactus)

The columnar Blue Myrtle Cactus is a kind of cactus that is indigenous to northern and central Mexico. It can also be mistaken for the san Pedro cactus but has some crucial differences.

Myrtillocactus Geometrizans (Blue Myrtle Cactus)

Dark-black Blue Myrtle Cactus spines have a dominating, very long central spine. The Blue Myrtle Cactus, as its name suggests, frequently has a vivid blue color to its skin. San Pedro cactus can frequently appear pale blue or grey.

San Pedro cactus effects

Common effects of San Pedro include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduced appetite
  • Increased body temperature
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Enlarged eyes
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of your perception of reality

There is a chance that using psychedelic plants will result in what is known as purging in the psychedelic world. Often, it manifests as nausea or diarrhea. Although, not everyone will experience this.

Final thought

Growing Trichocereus Pachanoi is exciting and profitable as these amiable plants grow quicker than other cacti and produce lovely flowers. They require well-draining soil, lots of sunlight, and the occasional sprinkle of water to develop correctly. If you reside in a temperate area, you can grow them outside as long as the winters are not too harsh.

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