More has been written about the cactus known as peyote than any other because of its long religious and medicinal use by Native Americans as well as its mind-altering capabilities, a result of the presence of the alkaloid mescaline. Extensive botanical, horticultural, chemical, and pharmacological studies of peyote have raised perplexing taxonomic problems, which were solved only by extensive field studies.
Although peyote was described by early Spanish chroniclers, the first botanical treatment of the plant was not until the middle of the eighteenth century when peyote was formally described in 1845 as Echinocactus williamsiiby Prince Salm-Dyck. He attributed the name to Charles Lemaire, who had published it in Cels's catalog the same year but without a description. Salm-Dyck wrote a brief Latin description but did not state the origin of the plant. Neither was there an illustration or designation of a type specimen; the first illustration did not appear until 1847. In 1894 John Coulter did a taxonomic study of peyote and described the genus Lophophora, the name from the Greek lophos, crest, and phoreus, bearer, thus crest bearer, referring to the crests or tufts of hairs borne on each tubercle. In my study of peyote I designated a specimen from the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, as the neotype (Anderson 1969) of E. williamsii (= L. wil-liamsii), the type of the genus. Field and laboratory studies indicate that there are two species of Lophophora, which flower March-September (Anderson 1969,1996).
Subfamily Cactoldeae, tribe Cacteae. Plants low, geophytlc, often occurring in clusters or mounds of many tightly compacted stems. Roots long, spindle shaped. Stems usually flattened globose, depressed aplcally, blue-green, yellow-green, or occasionally reddish green, 2-7 cm (0.8-2.8 in) high, 4-12 cm (1.6-4.7 in) in diameter. Tubercles or podarla low and rounded or humplike, often arranged in distinct vertical ribs. Areoles usually linearly arranged alongthe ribs or at the tips of the tubercles, each bearing a tuft of soft, yellowish or whitish hairs. Spines absent. Flowers borne at the center of the plant from within the woolly areoles, open during the day, funnelform, white to pinkish white to yellowish white to occasionally red, 1-2.4 cm (0.4-0.9 in) long, 1-2.2 cm (0.4-0.9 in) in diameter; pericarpels naked. Fruits club shaped to elongate, pinkish red, fleshy, becoming brownish white and dry at maturity, naked, indehiscent, 1.5-2 cm (0.6-0.8 in) long. Seeds black, pearshaped, tuberculate, 1-1.5 mm long, 1 mm broad, with a large hilum area. Distribution: occurring widely on limestone soils in the Chihuahuan Desert ofTexasand northern and central Mexico, at elevations of 50-1800 m (160-5900 ft).
Lophophora diffusa (Croizat) Bravo 1967
Lophophora echinata var. diffusa Croizat 1944
Lophophora diffusa var. koehresii Riha 1996, L. williamsii var. koehresii
(Riha)Grym 1997 Lophophora diffusa subsp. viridescens Halda 1997, L. viridescens (Halda) Halda 1997
Plants solitary or forming small clumps. Stems soft, somewhat globose, yellow-green, 2-7 cm (0.8-2.8 in) high, 5-12 cm (2-4.7 in) in diameter. Ribs usually absent. Tubercles or podaría rarely elevated, usually broad and flat. Flowers white, sometimes faintly pink or yellowish white, 1.3-2.2 cm (0.5— 0.9 in) in diameter. Distribution: Querétaro, Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii (Lemaire ex Salm-Dyck) J. M. Coulter 1894
PEYOTE OR PEYOTL, AND CACTUS PUDDING, CHALLOTE, DEVIL'S ROOT, DIABOLIC ROOT, DRY WHISKEY, DUMPLING CACTUS, INDIAN DOPE, MESCAL, MESCAL BUTTON, PEOTE, PIOTE, PIOTL, RAÍZ DIABOLICA, TUNA DE TIERRA, TURNIP CACTUS, WHISKEY CACTUS, WHITE MULE
Echinocactus williamsii Lemaire ex Salm-Dyck 1845 Lophophora lewinii (K. Schumann) Rusby 1894
Lophophora williamsii 397
Lophophora echinata Croizat 1944 Lophophora lutea Backeberg 1961
Lophophora fricii Habermann 1974, L. williamsii var. fricii (Habermann)
Grym 1997, L. diffusa subsp. fricii (Habermann) Halda 1997 Lophophora jourdaniana Habermann 1975
Plants solitary or forming clumps to 1 m (3.3 ft) wide. Stems globose to flattened globose, somewhat firm to the touch, blue-green or occasionally reddish green, 2-6 cm (0.8-2.4 in) high, 4-11 cm (1.6-4.3 in) in diameter. Ribs and furrows usually present, 4-14, usually well defined, extremely variable, sometimes only forming podaria. Flowers usually pink or pinkish white, sometimes red, 1-2.2 cm (0.4-0.9 in) in diameter. Distribution: widespread, occurring from west Texas along the Rio Grande to south Texas, south throughout northern Mexico into San Luis Potosí. Lophophora williamsii is extremely variable throughout its wide range; recognition of infraspecific taxa is not warranted. Anderson (1996,159-161) includes a complete listing of the vernacular names for peyote. The ethnobotany of I. williamsii is described in Chapter 2, under Peyote.
Lophophora williamsii, also illustrated on pages 17 and 46
Was this article helpful?
You Might Just End Up Spending More Time In Planning Your Greenhouse Than Your Home Don’t Blame Us If Your Wife Gets Mad. Don't Be A Conventional Greenhouse Dreamer! Come Out Of The Mould, Build Your Own And Let Your Greenhouse Give A Better Yield Than Any Other In Town! Discover How You Can Start Your Own Greenhouse With Healthier Plants… Anytime Of The Year!