Everything you need to know about San Pedro or Huachuma
What´s san pedro?
The San Pedro Cactus is one of the most cultivated cacti in the world, especially in those areas that enjoy a warm climate. Despite the fact that it has quite an important columnar growth, it can be grown for many years in a pot. This plant is characterized by having a very low density of thorns and a robust, soft and elongated body that can reach 3 to 7 meters in height. The growth of the San Pedro cactus is very slow, and can take up to 5 years to mature. However, this plant very easily generates basal shoots, which greatly facilitates their reproduction and use. It is also known as ECHINOPSIS PACHANOI from the arid zones of Latin America, although today its use is widespread from the Atacama Desert in Chile and Jujuy in Argentina, to the Amazon areas of southern Colombia.
The Echinopsis pachanoi is a cactus native to South America with a tradition of more than 3000 years of religious and medicinal use. Among the different alkaloids it contains, mescaline (the same alkaloid that peyote contains) is responsible for the psychoactive effects.
The San Pedro is a columnar cactus traditionally used for medical and religious purposes in some areas of South America. Different species of cacti belonging to the botanical genus Echinopsis (formerly called Trichocereus) are known by this name, mainly Echinopsis pachanoi and Echinopsis peruviana, although there are other varieties such as E. puquiensis, E. santaensis, and E. schoenii.
Why echinopsis pachanoi?
Echinopsis pachanoi is the scientific name for a columnar cactus native to the Andes that was described by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Joseph Nelson Rose, Heimo Friedrich, and Gordon Douglas Rowley and published in the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study Bulletin in 1974.
The word “Echinopsis” is a generic name derived from “echinos” (urchin or sea urchin), and “opsis” (appearance), in reference to the dense cover of thorns that some of these plants present “Pachanoi” epithet awarded in honor of Professor Abelardo Pachano.
History of the San Pedro cactus
Let’s talk a little about the history and origin of San Pedro. San Pedro itself has many names, including: Wachuma, Huachuma, Agua colla, Gigantón, Sanpedrillo, Olala, Huando hermosa, Huando, Huacuma, Curi, Cardo, Cactus Real, Agua-collo, Huachuma, Gigantón, Símora, San Pedrillo, Huando Hermoso, Huachumo, Cuchuma, Cimora blanca, Cimarrón, Cardon, Andachuma, Cardón santos, among others. The first uses of wachuma date back to more than 5700 in the semi-desert and pre-Andean lands of the northwest of what is now Peru. Since cultures as important as Chachapoyas, the Chavin, the Chimú and later the Incas used it as the cornerstone of their worldview or as some say heavenly journey, being of great help in understanding the apparent reality.
Archaeological investigations in the Andes have found archaeological remains dating back to at least 6,400 BC.C in Cueva Del Guitarrero in Áncash. 11 In the Huaca El Paraíso Archaeological Complex in Lima in 2016, a 4,000-year-old cactus was found, possibly of the Echinopsis pachanoi species, about 30 centimeters long in an apparent good state of preservation.12 In the Chavín de Huántar ceremonial center a stone stela with the cactus in its iconography was found by the Peruvian archaeologist Luis Lumbreras in excavations at the beginning of the 1970s in the so-called Plaza Circular.
The word wachuma, in Quechua, literally means, “to be headless, head off, cut off the head, cut off the ego.” The Spanish Jesuit monks, upon arriving in the new world and coming into contact for the first time with the rituals that had this plant, were surprised with the therapeutic and spiritual capacity of the wachuma. These, in turn, quickly understood the healing power of the echinopsis pachanoi and named it the Saint Peter’s cactus, in honor of the patron saint of the Catholic Church and custodian of the gates of heaven.
What is San Pedro traditional medicine?
It has a long tradition in traditional Andean medicine, especially in the tradition of the northern table.
It is currently widely known and used to treat nerve, joint, drug addiction, heart disease and hypertension, 7 it also has antimicrobial properties.
Today, hallucinogens can be classified into two large groups, tryptamines and phenylethylamines. Being mescaline, the most important representative of the second group. This active compound is closely related to fear and the most basic instincts in humans. Because of this, the ceremonies with this sacred plant revolve around death and the fight against the most deeply rooted fears in the heart of the participant. Being a fundamental tool for understanding the “I” beyond the ego.
Due to the more than 5700 years of use of huachuma in America, mescaline can be considered the oldest alkaloid used by humans. Currently, mescaline has important therapeutic applications in clinical psychology and psychiatry, as well as in molecular research on the biological mechanisms of schizophrenia.
How is the cultivation and care of the Huachuma?
This cactus is easy to grow in most places. Accustomed to its natural habitat in the Andes, at high altitudes and with abundant rainfall, it can withstand temperatures well below what many other species resist. It requires a fertile, well-drained soil. The average growth is half a meter a year. It is susceptible to fungal diseases if overwatered. It can suffer burns or a chlorotic reaction due to overexposure to the sun, so it is better to keep it in semi-shade during the summer in temperate latitudes.
San Pedro cactus soil
The best substrate for huachuma will be the one that contains practically no organic material. Being mainly mineral and sandy. This feature will allow you not to retain excess water, preventing rotting of the plant.
Irrigation of the Huachuma
Watering the San Pedro cactus you will have to check the humidity of the soil. Ensuring that it was continuously damp, but not wet or flooded, to avoid rotting of the roots. Remember the great capacity to accumulate water that these succulents have. They can withstand long periods of drought without problems.
Fertilizer for the San Pedro cactus
We recommend fertilizing the wachuma cactus once every 2 or 3 weeks. Use a specific cactus compost. Perform this process during the flowering of the plant, to its full potential. The growth of the San Pedro cactus is very slow but constant, so you will have to be attentive to the transplant if you want to allow a plant to grow naturally.
Problems with the San Pedro Cactus?
Many times we think that when one grows a plant all we have to do is simply let it grow and develop, but on multiple occasions unexpected things happen such as when the same plant begins to die. These are some very important data that you have to have to see how the growth of your Trichocereus pachanoi plant continues.
- San Pedro with black spots
This type of problem is the most common in any cactus. The black spots on the huachuma are usually indicative of fungi. We recommend that you use a cactus fungicide just above the stain and plant it in a new pot, as you would with a basal sucker.
- San Pedro yellowish
If the yellowish areas of the plant are soft, it is very likely that you are facing a case of fungus. IF, on the other hand, it is only a matter of coloration, it is most likely that your plant needs nitrogen. That said, it will be able to return to its normal state in a short time, it will also depend on the nutrients that San Pedro himself has.
It is easily multiplied by seeds. The requirements are: maintaining a high degree of humidity, a nutritious and well-draining substrate mix, enough water (but not too much) and light. It is also propagated by means of cuttings, from which a clone of the plant is obtained. The San Pedro cactus, a very particular plant that surprises many by giving two great creations that sprouts from the cactus itself.
How is San Pedro multiplied?
It is easily multiplied by seeds. The requirements are: maintaining a high degree of humidity, a nutritious and well-draining substrate mix, enough water (but not too much) and light. It is also propagated by means of cuttings, from which a clone of the plant is obtained. The San Pedro cactus, a very particular plant that surprises many by giving two great creations that sprout from the cactus itself.
Flower of San Pedro.
Fruit of San Pedro Cactus.
The inflorescence of the pachanoi is a sight worth seeing. The San Pedro cactus, when it reaches maturity, generates large and showy white flowers that begin their growth on the ribs of the plant. Due to this, huachuma, leaving aside its ritual properties, is also one of the most used ornamental plants for decoration of outdoor gardens.
The fruit of the San Pedro cactus was called oblong, dark green, 5 to 6 centimeters in diameter. The fruits are edible, they were used by the natives in religious festivities for their hallucinogenic properties due to the large amount of alkaloids they have, especially mescaline.
Sale of San Pedro cactus in Peru
The psychoactive alkaloid of San Pedro, mescaline, is a controlled substance under the 1971 Vienna Convention and is included in Schedule I. Therefore, it is considered a substance whose use, sale and manufacture are prohibited. However, the San Pedro cactus is not included in the lists of the conventions, and its regulation depends on the legislation of each country.
The sale, distribution and consumption of this magical plant in Peru is fully accessible for purchase and sale, even for consumption, since it is one of the most famous medicinal plants in the world.
Where to buy San Pedro cactus?
In our Store you will find a lot of information and important uses, on how you can take advantage of the maximum potential of the San Pedro cactus, also at a great price accessible to your pocket.
You can also find in our store multiple plants that can also benefit you for your medicinal and / or ceremonial use. Also a great delivery service.