Friday, 16 June 2017

Sacred Cacti: Exclusive interview with Keeper Trout


This interview and pictures used (unless otherwise stated) are the copyright of Brett Lothian, 2017 and may not be reproduced without permission. ©
 
Keeper Trout is an absolute legend in the fields of sacred cacti and ethnobotany, being one of the first to write in depth about the traditional and modern western use of sacred cacti. His thoroughly researched works have been an inspiration for many around the world, including myself. Unlike a lot of researcher/writers Keeper Trout has always been happy to engage with the average enthusiast, provide information in the online forums and help people with their questions. I was lucky enough to spend a day with him and Snu Vooglebreinder out at Fields cacti farm a few years ago, which was an education for me and a great pleasure to spend some time with such friendly, down to earth guys in one of my favorite places in the world. KT has always been happy to help me over the years with any questions that I've had in our correspondence, including this interview which I appreciate greatly. 

Later on in the year I will be providing some Trichocereus samples to Keeper Trout for DNA testing, which is long over due and will hopefully put an end to many of the taxonomy questions that are rife in the study of the Trichocereus genus. Thankfully there are people like Keeper Trout out there who are pushing the research further and leading the way in the study of San Pedro and sacred cacti in general. While some people like to argue online, people like KT are out there getting things done, which is what we really need if we are to ever get anywhere in seriously studying these plants and the benefits they hold for society.

I personally am very grateful to Keeper Trout for all his help over the years and for taking the time to respond to my questions here in depth in this exclusive interview for Tricho Serious Ethnobotany. Keeper Trouts work can found in the links below and I encourage all who are interested in these subjects to please do check them out and buy his outstanding books! Without the support of the community, great researchers like Keeper Trout cannot do the work that we all benefit from. 

Please read on below for my exclusive interview with Keeper Trout, you will not be disappointed. Enjoy!


1) What projects are you working on at the moment?

There are always a handful of writing projects ongoing with other people as is presently the case. I have a habit of working on multiple projects in parallel so the output often comes in bursts. One on the history of peyote suppression and regulation, co-written with Martin Terry, will be coming out next; possibly even by the time this is posted online. It will be added to the library page at the CCI site (www.cactusconservation.org) as soon as it goes into printed hard copy. (The same webpage has been updated with the 2016 post-harvest regrowth data and images.)


I’m also staying more busy than usual as an active part of the exciting Shulgin Archiving project (shulginresearch.org/); presently I am serving as the director of the digital archive. Which is a fancy to way to say I run a lot of pieces of paper through a scanner while keep an eye open for things worthy of publication by Transform Press and/or sensitive personal correspondence which needs appropriate redaction of proper names.  Our goal is taking all of Sasha and Ann’s notes, writings, and reference library and creating an archival database which is accessible to people with interest.
There is also a presentation planned for delivery at the Ethnobotanical Search for Psychoactive Drugs 50th anniversary conference in England this June (espd50.com/).

The biggest project and investment of my time in recent years has however been focused on getting well. A lot of my friends know that I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride for around a decade or so with lyme disease and a piroplasmic coinfection named Babesia duncani. As of late last summer, I appear to have entered a landing approach into good health and seem to have evicted my joyriders. I’m crossing my fingers that I will fully recover and not be left with too many lyme-sourced residual problems. So far the extent of my recovery is quite exciting and encouraging to me. My mind and memory has not been this clear in many years. Even if I did not recover any more than this moment today I would be thrilled. Stay tuned on that one.
Trout's Notes on San Pedro and related Trichocereus Species by Keeper Trout and friends. © Keeper Trout.

2) Are you planning any new editions to your outstanding books or any new books for the future?

Thanks for that thought. Certainly, those are planned although the format of their release is not yet clear to me. 

The “San Pedro” book has already experienced a substantial revision and expansion so it needs to be released ASAP as is true for the “Cactus Chemistry By Species” compendium.  Both still have some more work left to do but in the case of the latter, that work will no doubt continue as long as people continue to perform more analysis on cacti so the perennial controlling factor is always deciding when has it seen enough new material incorporated to be re-released another time.  Both of those are planned for release in 2017. At which point they will join the pdf copies already located at troutsnotes.com.

Sacred Cacti is already online at sacredcacti.com but it is also being turned into a pdf version. I plan to use a crowd-funding campaign to bring this title back into print as soon it is ready to go into hardcopy. If that is successful, the other parts of that book will follow to create a four volume set. By some point during 2018, I hope to have the entirety of the newest revisions of all four volumes online in PDF form.
Some Simple Tryptamines by Keeper Trout and friends. © Keeper Trout.

3) Considering the vast range of Trichocereus cacti and the lack of comprehensive study in habitat, is it fair to say that the study of Trichocereus is still in its infancy?

Yes and no. 

It is true that if a person looks at what has been done, everything is in the beginning stages. Infancy, however, also wants to suggest that the entity in question will grow up to maturity and that requires, time, interest and good input. That is where I have some doubts there is actually something for it to be able to grow into.

A big problem right now is the level of actual good science occurring in this area is appallingly inadequate. It is common to hear non-botanists blamed for the mess we call Cactaceae but, while that proposal has some merit, a closer look will show it was professional botanists who actually were responsible for producing many of the worst of those sloppy errors and that trend is still actively continuing today. The people publishing Trichocereus taxonomy sometime seem to be engaged in something other than actual science so it is little surprise a lot more noise than signal presently surrounds us. For instance, we saw a revision by Albesiano & Kiesling/Albesiano & Terezas that purportedly was based on molecular work yet it failed to make clear what was actually examined in their cladistic work and it clearly omitted any molecular study of most of the points that actually matter to this discussion (and to Albesiano & Kiesling’s paper) despite those supposedly being the focal points of that particular set of work. Roberto Kiesling actually sidestepped a direct question about what had served as the samples for the phylogenetic part of the study and whether they had ever been to the type locale. Instead he invited me to participate in future field work (which I think might be better placed if occurring ahead of such a study and revision rather than following it?)

For a paper that made a significant revision of a Peruvian species it seems peculiar that:
 1) they did not actually include even a single specimen from Peru (all three of their samples were Bolivian),

2) never visited the type locality of T. peruvianus to obtain material for their molecular work (relying on a mere visual inspection of Britton & Rose’s sad and sterile herbarium voucher), 

3) for two of their three T. peruvianus samples they renamed specimens which previously had been submitted to the La Paz herbarium as T. bridgesii

4) Albesiano only actually changed the identification on only one of those two herbarium sheets at LPZ not both of them, and

5) they failed to support why their purported macrogonus neotype was actually a macrogonus and,

6) they omitted their neotype from their molecular study.

It is also disconcerting that so few people seemed to care about those deficiencies.
 Albesiano followed that with a similar work concerning Chilean cacti but this time her work was based entirely on morphology. 
Trichocereus peruvianus 'Rosei 1'

That was followed by a lumping revision of a few more of the Peruvian species that completely lacked any meaningful references or comments about what was studied, how the conclusions were drawn, whether any molecular work was involved or if it was based on simple morphology akin to Albesiano’s previous work, or even by whom the revisions were made (Albesiano & Kiesling are listed along with several other names), and which were slipped into a synonym list in a work on Bolivian flora. Short of getting a response from one of the authors there seems to be no way to learn answers to any of that and Albesiano has been unwilling to communicate with me on this subject since the period during the peer review process of her Haseltonia papers. 

This seems to have all been accepted with scarcely anyone’s remark outside of Lode’s understated comment about Albesiano’s work on the Chilean species being “unsatisfying” and Hunt’s interesting statement that their proposed revision could only be used to apply to T. macrogonus’ close relatives. Despite that almost everyone else who is active in the area of cactus taxonomy seems to have accepted their work. The apparent toleration of such a lack of transparency, inadequate rigor and their assorted omissions of critical data mitigates against meaningful progress ever being possible in this area unless someone decides to raise the bar of acceptable practices to a reasonable height. The practices employed in their resurrection and the subsequent acceptance of the name T. macrogonus fell someplace in between shoddy and inadequate.

I don’t think a bona fide scientific study of the genus Trichocereus has even really started outside of the cDNA study published in Schlumberger & Renner 2012. What was suggested to have occurred in Albesiano & Terezas would have been nice but if a person examined that paper closely it is clear that they completely dropped the ball in the narrow area that we are discussing. Dr. Terezas is very competent but she can only work with what she is given to examine so that particular paper is sadly incomplete.

In addition to the aforementioned omissions, Albesiano and Kiesling made no attempt to include their newly declared “T. macrogonus” neotype in their DNA study, (it would certainly seem possible to revisit David N. Smith’s collection site for a DNA sample?), or to describe why we should think Smith’s “Trichocereus sp.” collection near Tarma was not merely what Rauh proposed as T. tarmaensis (and which most people lump into T. cuzcoensis). If it is not, then those two would appear to be sympatric in occurrence. 

All together that does not form a promising picture. What is clear from this is that more rigor and much better methodology is needed. At the very least their work needs some transparency whether it was in their papers from Haseltonia or concerning their naked lumpings that were slipped into that Bolivian flora book. At least one of those revisions (puquiensis) appears to be political and based on Kiesling respecting his friendship with Carlos Ostolaza rather than on actual taxonomy or chemotaxonomy. 
Trichocereus macrogonus 'Tipz'

4) Are the Trichocereus species a grex and if so what does this mean for the taxonomy?

I’d like to think that but in my ongoing study what would be expected from grex does not seem capable of accounting for most of what we see. 

I certainly believe that it does occur on a limited scale but the concept can also lead to an erroneous assessment if we operate on the assumption it is the only reason for what we can witness. If it really accounted for what we are seeing, we would surely be finding multiple clear instances of populations showing hybrid swarming features and those do not seem to be emerging despite an increasing number of people searching for them. Sympatric occurrences with no evidence for hybridization is actually more commonplace. Cactus hybrids certainly can and do occur spontaneously but this is also a fairly rare thing in terms of the frequency of actual occurrence and tends to happen in minorly unique situations which promote overlapping flowering periods and provide nice nurse conditions for seedlings. The phenomenon is known in wild populations but the most common place to find such a spontaneous hybrid growing is in a commercial planting or a botanical garden with abundant nurse plants and a sprinkler system.

I have grown to believe that too much is made out of variants that are really simple morphological variability or the result of environmental influences. Backeberg in particular was incredibly prolific at introducing a lot of troublesome names and some shaky specific concepts that would largely become indistinguishable from each other if they were planted side by side and a few years be allowed to elapse.

That last factor above, environmental influences, has the capacity for causing actual genetic change by increasing the rates of mutations occurring during recombinant events. This is only meaningful over the course of a few generations but this is one of the driving factors underlying the steadily ongoing process that we call “speciation”. Species are almost always at least potentially subject to change if their conditions change. Individuals don’t change obviously but the trends in their progeny can. 

One big problem about the Trichocereus species is that a lot of the work has historically been done without concern for good methodology and relatively few botanists have actually done any real populational field work rather than organizing collection expeditions overlapping with commercial activities aimed at obtaining products to sell. Or at least that is true for this particular area.There is no reason why the area involving Trichocereus can’t be done well. People studying other cacti like Gymnocalycium or Rebutia or Lobivia or Turbinicarpus or Echinocereus are in fact looking at populations and trying to accomplish reproducible work in the process.  

That is something that so often gets missed in the snapshots a person can assemble in their mind. What actually has the greatest need for study is not actually the plant we might be looking at in a garden or collection but rather the population of plants in which it originally occurred and what exists across its range of distribution. There is always a spectrum of some sort of variable features in addition to the changes in morphological expression that can happen based on environmental differences. It is far less important to compare individual plants within a given population than it is to be comparing entire separate populations of a given species to each other (much less the quasi-domesticated ones that we find in our collections and in botanical gardens. Those were often selected based on a perception of individual beauty, floral feature, size or some other reasons for being considered a particularly ‘good’ choice to bring into a botanical collection or horticulture so may reflect a morphological peak rather than being average). 

Speciesare quite often works-in-progress and, with regards to plants, they are largely artificial, and surprisingly poorly defined, mental constructs. In animals, two individuals are said to be a single species based on whether they can have sex with each other and produce viable offspring that are also fertile. In cacti, there can be crosses between not just different species but different genera. This is true both in horticulture and in nature. To me the absence of a functional definition for a basic level of taxa has always been not simply perplexing but seems to be responsible for causing a lot of problems, past, present and future. I am not aware of any other area of science that would tolerate that so tend to think of plant taxonomy as presently being more of a social or political game than an actual scientific endeavor.

Speciation is occurring right now all around us all of the time but we don’t get to see it clearly since it happens too slowly. A few factors are involved though.

If someone wanted to undertake a real study of the genus Trichocereus and write a monograph that included populational and distribution studies they could probably rewrite the present view and then some. I can’t imagine that not requiring some years of dedicated work in the Andes of Peru alone. For the right interested person it would be a great adventure.

Another confounding factor is the people who are actively wanting to provide input on names while claiming to know nothing about botany or taxonomy and, in their activities clearly not caring about either one. I mean no one disrespect to anyone in saying this but if a person does not care about established nomenclatural rules (there is a nice book on the details of the code of nomenclature which anyone can obtain) and how or why things get their names, all of those well-intended contribution to taxonomy only add a bit more noise. (For instance, one of the big California growers of the pachanot renamed their commercial offerings as Echinopsis peruviana due to their personal objection that T. peruvianus was lumped into T. pachanoi rather than vice versa. In that agreeing that they should be merged, but disagreeing with the rule of priority of publication in assigning names. No problem for creating a trade name for their product but it is not a taxonomic contribution.)
Trichocereus pachanoi 'Yowie'
5) Do you think that the ancient Andean cultures such as the Chavin, Wari and Inca etc selectively bred some of the Trichocereus species that we have today for shamanic purposes?

I am not aware of there being any apparent evidence for breeding occurring at all. 

I would assume that better ones were selectively cultivated and propagated for being good choices but I’ve never encountered indication of any breeding, selective or not, occurring among shamans in Peru even in modern times. I would LOVE to learn that I am wrong but I also will not be holding my breath while waiting to learn that.

It is certainly possible for that to occur but it is also very true that most of the historical propagation of Trichocereus in South America by humans has occurred via cuttings not seeds (even today). Most of the observable cases don’t even involve anyone actually planting the cuttings and instead most people appear to just move a cutting to the approximate area where another plant is desired and drop it on the ground. That approach works very well of course so it is a sound approach to spreading plants they like.

It would be hard for me to believe that any people using the Trichocereus species would not recognize and deliberately select for ones that they preferred. It is also quite clear that the vast majority of people brewing or eating mescaline-containing cactus species in either North or South America never plant a single plant. There are some noteworthy exceptions like the syncretic organization Camino Rojo which does engage in planting achuma.
Trichocereus bridgesii 'Achuma'
 6) Do the local Andean people have the best idea simply calling them all San Pedro, Wachuma, Huan Shuma etc?

The plants do not care what humans call them.

If a range of plants with variable effects, potencies and appearances are all called by one name, I’m not sure how that would helpful or meaningful unless the goal is to deliberately obscure something. And the practice of creating deliberate noise does exist; perhaps even as a practice among shamans in general. It is also certainly true in Peru where deliberate attempts to add confusion have historically been used as a means towards enabling greater personal safety. It may be a part of the reason that there are multiple towns named Huancabamba?

However, it is also not actually true in reality that all Peruvian shamans uniformly regard them or use the same name for all of them. The equating of all mescaline containing plants as one interchangeable picture is more often than not a product of a Western reductionist model that is making an assumption based on shared mescaline content and is often lacking awareness or recognition of the levels of indigenous sophistication when it comes to recognizing medicine plants. This shows up repeatedly in the literature. It is especially well documented in the area of ayahuasca and admixtures but years ago Carlos Ostolaza pointed out (in Quepo) that the ancient Peruvians had depicted pachanoi, peruvianus and cristate pachanoi in their art as being associated with three different entities.

From what I’ve encountered, those Andean people who actually employ several versions of the plants do not actually refer to all of them by the same name or regard them to be interchangeable and add qualifier terms to differentiate them. There is no general hard rule though. Some folks regard spiny cacti as being more suitable for sorcery than for healing purposes so they avoid them completely. At the same time another person might see no difference between a spiny and nonspiny plant if their brew comes out the same for them. And it is also clear that most people select for specific plant features rather than substituting similar ones if they have the chance. 

Much of that last point though can be something more akin to name branding than having any pharmacological basis as it is linked to the harvesters. For instance one group might deliberately provide only certain numbers of ribs on the tips that they deliver to the witches market with a given ratio between them to indicate that their family were the collectors. Or, they might only provide 7 ribbed plants. Some people follow that sort of thinking when making brews also. That is also where we might appear to step away from simple pharmacology and into pure magical thinking and practice. Or it might just be that the buyer is selecting for the ‘name brand’ since they know the family who did the collecting always harvest superior plants.

One other confounding element is that a lot of medicine circles are created by Westerners operating in South America and elsewhere. They often bring their own ideologies into the mix. I’ve heard more than one white maestro insist strongly that the plant is actually *offended* by being called San Pedro rather than Achuma (in one of the dozen or more renderings of same word) but I suspect that notion came from their perception of the plant’s views rather than being a ubiquitous point of view held by the plant or else surely it would be voicing that objection to *everyone* who had ingested it after insulting it by calling it San Pedro. If it is telling that to an individual, it is no doubt good for them to pay attention in their own spiritual practices but I distrust the idea that any self-appointed emissary serving as a ‘mouthpiece of the sacred’ is needed to educate the rest of humanity due to everybody else being too deaf and blind. That is the sort of behavior that gave religion a bad name but it certainly is a common enough phenomenon when people have strong and personally meaningful spiritual experiences.
Trichocereus valida

7) Do you think that the naming of clones has now gone too far, or that people make too much of a name?

Those are actually two separate questions that merit a bit of detail. 

A lot of people get confused about what is meant by a clone name as opposed to horticultural cultivar names and use them interchangeably. Those two words MIGHT be the same thing but most often they are not, so we should start out with definitions so there is no confusion about what is being said.   
Clone names get assigned to track a clone. Perhaps a semidumb comment but one that is vital to having clarity. Clones are either taken from a single plant as cuttings (or callus tissue) or are taken from a plant that was grown from cuttings (or callus tissue) taken from the original plant (and onward). All plants produced within that lineage are a single clone. Outside of the small but recurrent incidence of recombinant events causing genetic drift those will all be identical to each other in terms of their genetics.  This oversimplifies the word “clone” but it is all that we are talking about when talking about Trichocereus.

A fair bit of what people refer to as clone names are actually named cultivars rather than clones. A cultivar is simply something someone selected and then propagated (most often intentionally for commercial production) and which is perceived to possess some sort of desirable and/or recognizable characteristic. One such name is Juul’s Giant which was a commercial offering once sold to the public by Jim Daniel’s Cactus Gems Nursery. His only purpose for naming it was so he would have a name to differentiate it from their normal commercial ‘pachanoi’ (which of course was the PC/pachanot). 

A cultivar is a plant that someone *decided* was worthy of propagation as something unique and/or desirable. Some of that selection is done by amateur hobbyists but it is also a important activity for commercial plant producers as a source of new products for sale. These are generally selected for some feature. Maybe color or beauty of flowers or maybe potency in the case of what you are asking about. 
Trichocereus bridgesii 'Eileen'

The cultivar line resulting from that selection can be variably successful. Think of Pearly Gates and Flying Saucer morning-glories for example. Those both came about as single mutants noticed to have spontaneously occurred in acreage of Heavenly Blues that was being grown specifically for commercial seed production. They were able to grow the Pearly Gates out as a form producing a stable white color instead of blue on the flower but the Flying saucers express a spectrum from irregular streaks of blue on white to irregular streaks of white on blue. All three of those are cultivars; as are Blue stars, Summer skies and Wedding bells which were all obtained in the same unanticipated way from acres of Heavenly blues.

Cultivars can be siblings grown from seeds as well as coming from clones so they are often not completely identical with each other. In some of those cases which we are no doubt all familiar with they are actually a range of F1 hybrids which can be quite different from each other. If for example a person crosses the PC with something like a bona fide pachanoi the resulting seedlings will be a spectrum of plants from very short spined ones to very long golden spined ones. The spectrum expressed by that particular cross is both fascinating and illuminating.

Growers generally assign additional numbers or designators to differentiate those as individual clones. 

Compared to named lineages of other cacti like Echinopsis hybrids or the epiphytes the number of named Trichocereus clones and cultivars have a really long way to go to catch up.  The names of Echinopsis hybrids alone surely numbers well into the thousands by now. It was already in the low thousands a few years ago.

In some cases though naming becomes almost nebulous because it lacks meaning beyond gracing some individual’s plant collection. A question arises as to why an individual’s plant merits being recognized as its own lineage. Is there a difference between it and what it was before then? Is there a way, or a reason, to tell it apart from other plants of the same species? If not it might be asked why it needs a new name.

Sometimes there is actual reason to keep track of individuals in order to track their history. It sometimes really says less about the name and more about the individuals involved with getting it into the hands of the person naming it. For instance the Osprey macrogonus clone was obtained from Kakster so those are potentially the same clones (we are going to go a bit deeper into this). Does a single clone picking up several names as it passes through a line of growers really have a meaning beyond saying what grower provided a cutting to an individual?  Let’s consider that macrogonus Osprey”. 

Kakster’s offerings were actually comprised of several clones he had selected from plants from Don Carlyle’s collection based on bioassays and evaluations of both potency and degree of slime. So the RS# is a cultivar designation rather than a clone name. However, if Osprey’s plants came from a single plant from Kakster, Osprey’s lineage would be a clone line. 

I’m not completely clear who actually named it, it has gotten around and a decent number of people have used the name for some time, but I would suspect it to be someone who got it from Osprey rather than Osprey. That was true for Juul’s Giant too as Tom Juul did not know or give it a name. It only acquired a name after leaving Juul’s collection.

As for Osprey, Carlyle almost certainly obtained his macrogonus from something produced from Knize’s seeds but it is not known who planted those seeds. Osprey would therefore be from genetics that originated with Karel Knize but was later selected by Kakster for growing as a superior sacramental choice; one of which was shared by Osprey for vegetative propagation based on perception of potency as well as beauty. *Which* clone of Kakster’s plants is anyone’s blind guess but if Osprey truly started with only a single plant and propagated its offspring there would be no question that “Osprey” would be a clone. If not those Osprey selections might not all be the same clone. I do not know which one of those is solid but I am guessing that Osprey would be able to answer that question. It is a far better idea to regard named plants as cultivars rather than clones unless their provenance is actually known.

A question should be raised: Is it really worth giving a new name a plant merely to indicate it had passed through the hands of a single grower standing in the middle of a long lineage of past and future growers?

In the case of ‘Osprey’ there might be some value assuming they all descended from a common mother plant. Assuming we actually know that of course. In many cases it seems to get a little bit silly and a far better idea than adding another name would be identifying it by its point of origin since other people are surely also going to possess and be growing the same thing. Names that make identical things appear to be different are not helpful but do occur. In fact, I know of at least several professional growers who hate taxonomic binomials and who have deliberately created fictitious points of noise in their offerings in order to vent their feelings on the subject.

Horticulturalists and cactus lovers are going to contain the only groups of people who will care or have any reason to care. The best advice is not to take names, naming or taxonomy too seriously. Language is simply about trying to communicate in a way that we can understand each other. Asking for names to have some meaning is not a bad thing but names tend to die  and disappear with no effort at all if they aren’t used by other people.

In some cases, it is fun pondering how names arose. For instance I have always wondered if Julio’s Giant (aka IcarosDNA) was a response to Juul’s Giant appearing? It might have been Julio’s fun way of saying “mine is bigger and it is nicer so how can *you* be a giant” (as those points are true).  Julio’s Giant however is a peruvianus and (thanks to Julio) what exists in most people’s hands arose from seeds flying all over the planet so it is a cultivar name rather than a clone name. If someone propagates one as a clone those are still Julio’s Giants  but many different individual clones can potentially exist.  Julio’s plants came from the wild and from semi-domesticated wild plants so even if a person started with live cuttings there is no certainty as to how many are of one clone.
Trichocereus peruvianus 'Rosei 2'

Juul's Giant on the other hand is a pachanoi that was believed to be to have come from a single plant but it is clear to me that assumption is far from being certain. When Jim Daniel got his plants from Tom Juul it was following a wet freeze with heavy winds breaking off many branches up to 9 feet long. Anyone who was familiar with Juul’s garden will agree with me that there were more than one similar plant in that crowded garden which were within 8-10 feet of each other so if a person was gathering  up many broken branches it would be difficult not to confuse some of them. However, it has been shown to be so variable in terms of chemistry (with a single stem giving dramatically different results in gc-ms) that it is difficult to know much about it without someone actually undertaking a study of just it. 

Juul’s plant was believed to have lost its collection information someplace in between South America and UC Berkeley but another strange fact emerged not long ago when I stumbled across an interview with his wife given not long after Tom’s death. In that article she described their garden as being a place where strangers came to get rid of their unidentified cactus plants. Which to me underscores the importance of keeping in mind that we really do not know where Juul’s got HIS plant so it is safer to think of it as a cultivar than a clone. 

There is one clearly observable fact though (based on study of the plant and its flowers). Juul’s Giant is one of the many known bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi forms and it visibly resembles a sort that is fairly common around and in Arequipa, Peru.  If someone wanted to and had the resources, it would not be hard to compare those plants to Juul’s in a meaningful way using modern molecular techniques.

Something subtle but important to be aware of exists in this. Juul’s Giant has no meaning as a taxonomic name; it was a commercial trade name. Only plants originating from Jim Daniel’s Cactus Gems nursery and descendants of those plants are Juul’s Giants. Even Juul’s huge mother plant was never actually named by Juul and the plants in Arequipa are not Juul’s Giants even if it could be proven that Juul’s Giant did originally come from there. Unlike Juul’s those are going to have better genetic robustness and seem like a great choice to be brought into horticulture outside of Peru.

Juul’s Giant was simply a horticultural trade name for a commercial cultivar of Trichocereus pachanoi sold by Cactus Gems. Plants that look like it, including in Peru, are simply some nice T. pachanoi. I sadly contributed to this in my book San Pedro as at the time it was written I had not yet awoken to the fact that what I then believed was the predominate pachanoi was actually more likely a hybrid and I viewed Juul’s as a curious variant of some sort. It was extremely rare and almost mythological in stature when I first heard of it.

There is no reason for people naming clones or cultivars to cease naming clones and cultivars whenever any need or a reason exists but it is also sound to asked why a new name is appearing and if the name actually contributes anything of value to anyone.

Being able to keep track of a plant has value if there is something special or unique about the plant. Being able to know who’s hands a plant passed through might have value or it might just be adding a new spot of noise. 

We are talking about names and people are free to do and say and think whatever they want. The worst that can happen is someone won’t be correctly understood.

And there is something worth clarifying about names I’ve used in the San Pedro book that seems to have confused some people.

If I used a name in print such as “Trichocereus species (H. Johnson)”, The parenthetical H. Johnson refers to either the grower or the location the plant was at when I photographed it. It is not intended as either a cultivar or a clone name. It is just a location name to help readers with comparing what was shown in the pictures. In the case of the PC/pachanot for instance, lot of growers have the same plants so not understanding that can confuse some people (and has done so).

That book is growing dated though since it was written so long ago (it was first printed in 1997 as a chapter in the book Sacred Cacti with two revisions following that; the last one was printed more than a decade ago as a stand alone book). A new edition is planned to be online in 2017 as was mentioned earlier above. I’ve got two more projects ahead of it that have a higher priority but it is already almost completed or at least only needs a few more weeks of focused attention.

On the subject of pachanoi, Patrick Noll published a very nice book on San Pedro that cactus lovers should not miss.
The San Pedro Group by Patrick Noll. © Patrick Noll.

8) Will we ever really know what ‘PC’ is and does it even matter?

That too is two separate questions, both of them good questions. I’d like to field the second one first.

Does it matter is a somewhat loaded question since names really don’t matter beyond hopefully enabling us to know what each other is talking about without having to see it. That is supposed to be the primary reason that we assign names to objects, including plants.

Recognizing a PC, aka the pachanot, is important only *if* people who actually ingest cacti have an interest in maximizing their efforts. (and just to be clear, I did not coin either one of those names — this is all something a number of people noticed on their own).

The difference between the mescaline content of it and a real pachanoi is typically enormous when good cultural practices are employed; bearing in mind that even a nice trich can be adversely affected by too much watering or pampering.

On the first part of that question, this gets much more interesting even if we obviously aren’t talking about anything of great importance.

An element that does matter in a fairly trivial way concerns resolving its origin. Not because it is ‘important’ but rather only because it may actually be possible. For a person with an interest in learning about cacti opportunities like that feel exciting because they are rare.

This seems to be worth untangling with more details as it is abundantly evident in the known hybridization efforts that the PC/pachanot is itself is a hybrid, possibly F1, involving a non-pachanoi that has long yellow spines. That observation, along with the scales, the receptacle, fruit hair and assorted internal floral features of the PC also suggest that a bridgesii was part of its parentage. Lots of questions that can actually be answered with a bit of work. What appears to be certain from those hybrids is that the PC/pachanot is very clearly not a pure pachanoi as I had once assumed.  The big commercial cactus growers near Vista have suggested something like that for many years and have long proposed it to be a hybrid based partly on its intense vigor. 

Something worth bearing in mind about science and learning  in general is that very often the end points are far less interesting and less valuable than what is learned in the process of attempted discovery. This is a really great example of that as an absurdly simple observation Michael Smith posed about deviant *hair color* is what started me asking the right questions. I had been dismissing variant hair colors as nothing more than trivial morphological variations for some time and it actually took Michael bringing this up several times before he caught my attention (maybe in 2012?). It was not like the evidence was not present in abundance and just not grasped by me though.

Many years earlier in the 1990s, Carlos Ostolaza visited me at my home in Austin, Texas. When we were standing in front of my heat-stressed Central Texas cactus collection, Carlos asked me if I grew any pachanoi. I was surprised by his question and pointed to the abundant PC that were present as many columns of potted plants as I then was under the impression that it was pachanoi. He expressed his opinion they looked more like some sort of a bridgesii to him or maybe was a hybrid. Our conversation was perplexing to me at the time but I could not resolve it or take it further. All I knew for certain was that I needed to go to Peru for field work. The only cactus I had that Carlos thought looked liked a pachanoi was my first Juul’s Giant tip that was then growing as a bloated graft superglued onto a Cereus stock.

One other fascinating observation is how much the SSO2 bridgesii X Juul’s can look like the PC but I can’t help but wonder how those would test in analysis in comparison. The future of identifying plants with no tags is going to keep getting more challenging thanks to the still-growing wealth of modern hybrids.

As for where the PC came from, that could become simple fairly soon or never. It could conceivably happen within the next couple of years at most if we are successful with obtaining the tissue samples that we hope will be coming from three continents. The only reason it is even within the realms of plausibility at this late date is because we are lucky enough to have enough a meager collection of factoids that narrow it down to either 2-3 plausible vectors; all of which we can locate living plants known with certainty to have originated with them. Namely Harry Johnson, Paul Hutchison and Harry Blossfeld. My personal suspicion is that Blossfeld will prove to be the winner. His 1930s collection expedition lost “hundreds” of their collection vouchers in an accident along with their accompanying collection data so clearly we cannot get any of that information from him.

If, however, it entered horticulture via his hands, both its presence on four continents and the huge numbers of specimens becomes simple to understand. Other possibilities seem too restricted in time-frame to have achieved the known distribution even with the massive scale commercial production enabled by extreme vigor of the pachanot. Both could likely be either established as correct or at least eliminated as erroneous within a relatively few weeks of time spent doing focused investigative research in southern California. I would love to accomplish that but have not created adequate free time and resources to complete that idea.

While we can’t evaluate data lost in Blossfeld’s accident, it would be a simple matter to compare DNA from the plants at Field’s (which thanks to Robert Field we know came to his father from Blossfeld as live plants) to that obtained from plants in the USA and in Europe and in Africa. If these prove to be clones we would know that we are onto something. And if not we should reject the notion.

And, in the same process, it should also be possible to establish whether the PC is a hybrid and to establish the identity of its parents using molecular tools due to material being readily available for all of the plausible candidates. The ground-work towards that end is being laid.

Due to the existing numbers, growth behavior and known distribution it seems most likely that Blossfeld collected this in Bolivia from a population of spontaneously occurring bridgesii x pachanoi hybrids and the original population is either now gone or perhaps just not yet located. Blossfeld’s accounts indicate that he largely stayed on and near the main roads of his day (with some side excursions). We also know that he deliberately attempted to visit many of the earlier published type collection localities which were also often concentrated along the main roads and at railroad stops and that he had originally intended a grandiose collection of all of the known published Types possible. (Changing his mind while plotting out their route on a large map and noticing the enormous magnitude of the proposed task.) And a long-time resident of La Paz related that several decades ago he witnessed a mass eradication campaign directed at psychedelic cacti growing in and around the urban centers in Bolivia which were then attracting a “hippy” following. Obviously stands of those plants have recovered but it is easy to imagine something like the PC could have been obliterated if it was a localized phenomenon like a natural hybrid near an urban area. We also heard a report from a grower in Victoria that moving his short-spined bridgesii into more sun caused it to become indistinguishable from his other pachanoi suggesting Blossfeld identified that one based on point of origin being Bolivia.

The only reason to learn to recognize a PC is to be able to make a better and more appropriate choice *if a person wants to use their cacti for ingestion as a drug plant*. 

There is no other reason for anyone else to avoid growing it. It is a fantastic and highly desirable plant to grow for many reasons. It is beautiful, fast growing, water tolerant, relatively freeze hardy in a mild temperate climate, easy to grow, produces great flowers, makes a decent grafting stock, and due to being a hybrid it is a particularly rewarding choice for making future novel hybrid creations. It is certainly one of my *all-time favorite flowering plants* and it will always have a warm spot in my heart.

If a pachanot is all a person has access to, they can certainly successfully work with it, as at least thousands of people could attest, but if a person possesses something better they will have no regrets from acquiring that awareness. In the USA there was simply no other choice available for almost everyone for a really long time unless they wanted to travel to the West Coast or South America. A good choice won’t simply be stronger but it will also have a better qualitative profile due to less of the alkaloids which can attenuate the effects of mescaline.

If a person simply likes growing cacti and enjoying their beauty there is no reason to care. If a person lives on the West Coast of the USA or in parts of Victoria in Oz it can grow into some downright magnificent specimens. The PC/pachanot will always be one of my all-time favorite flowering cacti.

Trichocereus pachanoi 'PC'

9) Can the published alkaloid testing be trusted considering the small sample sizes?

An alkaloid test can tell you what was in the sample that was actually tested by the people doing the testing.  It can imply a range that most people can work with and apply to a second sample even if it does lack reliable accuracy and is not uncommonly in the ball park.

It can reliably tell a person almost nothing about that second sample. A probability exists that a similar composition and a similar concentration might be present in an unanalyzed sample in question but both can vary due to a host of variables ranging from environmental factors to stress to mutations. It is not always even reliably extrapolatable if it was obtained from within the same plant as the composition and the concentration can sometimes vary quite markedly from one part to another in both content and composition (this has been documented in both cacti and in many other plants). And a substantial difference in concentration can even exist in plants growing near each other. This has been reported in quantitative analysis of peyote and also liberty caps for examples. Some people, usually by the drug warrior camp, have proposed that poses some sort of trouble or risks for the users but the reality is a user generally batches together enough material of either of those that it balances out to fall within a more predictable range. The encountered fear that a person faces a risk of all of their choices being outliers and the outcome being many times more potent than anticipated is delusional. Outliers are, by definition, never going to be predominant (unless a person is deliberately selecting for those plants in which case it will be welcomed by them).

Once a grower actually knows their garden a great deal of sophistication tends to develop in the interactions between people and their plants. It has probably been that way as long as people have interacted with plants.

One thing which is a common problem for novices learning to understand their gardens is the fact that even a potent plant choice can become compromised by people’s feeding practices and consistent watering. If a person wants to compare plants through analysis, I would suggest both specimens be drought stressed for at least 6 months and the sampling be done right around flowering time or after it.
Trichocereus macrogonus 'Fields'

10) Is any new alkaloid testing being conducted?

Not that I know of. Or at least the ongoing work is either problematic due to the identifications being based on spectroscopic means rather than actual isolations, or else they are limited to only observing mescaline . 

Overall the reference standards are available for at most only around couple of percent of the known cactus alkaloids.

This is the reason why most workers now analyze for mescaline and nothing else. They would no doubt LOVE to be looking for all of the other compounds present, including those in trace amounts, but that is only realistic with reference standards. And of those who are reporting other compounds almost all of those have been identified based published compendiums of reported spectra rather than actual reference standards.

That can often work but the lack of those standards has actually led to the appearance of errors specifically due to a reliance on spectroscopy and published spectra in the absence of a reference standard. For instances:  4-hydroxy-amphetamine (PMA) was reported from Browningia candelaris and 3,4,5-trimethoxy-amphetamine (TMA-2) was reported from T. terscheckii. In both cases those are probably interpretational errors of what they saw in gc-ms. Both of them are far more likely to be the corresponding N-methyl compound rather than the alpha-methyl which was proposed. Outside of those two accounts, no alpha methylated phenethylamine (aka amphetamine) has ever been observed from a member of the Cactaceae so both of those spectral identifications are screaming for confirmation through relication by someone. Especially since that is an easy mistake to make in gc-ms. Tellingly, the N-methyl was not reported to be present at all in either case and despite both the nonmethylated AND the dimethylated being present. That particular combination of observations does not even make any biosynthetic sense.

If the presence of alpha-substituted amphetamines in cacti could be proven it would really be astounding news that would merit publication and stimulate further research into that subject alone. Amphetamines are rather rarely produced in nature and the strange lack of significance being given to either report by the discoverers is not encouraging. Both of those need independent confirmation which should not be difficult to establish an answer one way or the other even using simple chemical tests.
Trichocereus bridgesii 'Lageniformis' AKA 'Sausage plant'

11) In your opinion, what is the most consistently potent Trichocereus?

That remains to be seen.  For most people that is likely to be a bridgesii. In reality though if a person had a choice of all cacti and access to them, it would be a bona fide pachanoi, such as are used for sacramental purposes in Peru. Some which may prove to rival Lophophora in terms of their maximum possible alkaloid content. Two confounding elements exist as no one is systematically analyzing their way through all of what exists with an eye for establishing the potential range for each species and all species can be variable based on a host of factors ranging from genetics to environmental factors.

All of the Trichocereus species including bridgesii can have some weak ones. A common problem is lack of rigor and lack of consistency creating a picture where we often can’t compare different people’s reports with any real meaning. This is slowly but steadily changing though as more analysts enter the picture and contribute their results through valuable information portals such as the DMT-Nexus.

There is also a curious point needing some clarification. Bridgesii is commonly reported to be phenomenal and better than any other choices yet there is not one single report in the analytical literature suggesting that should really be true (whether based on the simple mescaline content or inferred from other alkaloids that were found to be present). Those bioassay reports should not be discounted though as a couple of interesting things emerge from this.

The common proposal is that something else is present that acts as an MAOI. This seems also to be suggested in the accounts of high dose bridgesii which is claimed to differ subjectively from a high dose mescaline trip. Sadly I’ve yet to locate anyone who has actually compared the two or who is willing to compare them. 

Potent MAOI cactus alkaloids are certainly known so it is not out of the realms of plausibilities. If MAOI activity proves to be involved, that also indicates an area where caution is warranted for anyone who uses other medications and may additionally suggest a need for caution around some food and some nutritional supplements.

This is an interesting area that needs more study with more rigor and less purely anecdotal accounts. There is a claim online that the substance responsible is hordenine but I’d like to be able to locate at least one report that hordenine was found in a bridgesii by someone before entertaining that notion. The proposal that hordenine is responsible seems to be based on the opinion of someone after bioassaying hordenine and cacti rather than on hordenine actually being found in a bridgesii by analysis.

There is also a proposal that hordenine is a meaningful MAOI but this appears to lack substance. The paper invariably cited is Berger who was actually evaluating relative rates of degradation by MAO. Anything that is degraded by MAO will show some MAO inhibition due to competing with other substrates but that is not always the same thing as indicating that it possesses enough MAOI activity to be capable of causing drug interaction problems. The fixation on an assumed MAOI activity appears to have possibly obscured something that is actually quite intriguing to consider concerning the reported bioassays of hordenine combined with other phenethylamines - that being the same paper being cited to claim it an MAOI actually reported it to be a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. That activity might be something to consider in those bioassay accounts of hordenine and other drug combos?

Back to T. bridgesii, hordenine is known from some cacti but has not yet been reported in this one and establishing its presence really should be the starting point before considering it to be involved in the pharmacology of that species. 

A couple of Coryphantha &/or Dolichothele phenethylamines have been reported as *decent* MAOIs (neither of which have been reported in Trichocereus) and most of the cactus alkaloids reported to show this this activity have been isoquinolines.

An important point of distinction might want to be, 1) which species is the most potent in terms of effectiveness and 2) which species is the most potent in terms of its mescaline content. 

Right now it is looking like bridgesii and pachanoi respectively but it is important to keep in mind that relatively few samplings have been performed in a way that we can directly compare. Some species have seen only one single analysis ever.

I suspect in a decade plant materials will be available which are both stronger and nicer in profile than what people know today.

Trichocereus Bridgesii 'Psycho0'

12) Should we be selectively breeding even more potent plants?

All medicinal plants benefit from selection for and development of better plants. There is no reason that this area should be any different.

Its not all about simple potency though. Alkaloid profiles are also important considerations.  It is very reasonable to assume different alkaloids profiles are responsible for various traditional users of cacti to express their preferences for one cactus over another, whether that is in North or South America.

When cacti contain a lot of DMPEA or 3-MeO-tyramine it is common for users to report an inferior result. That is likely to be true even if the mescaline content is good as those two molecules will compete for the same receptors. 

An analogous picture is true for the drug types of cannabis. High CBD levels can totally flatten the effects of even strong levels of THC. Sometimes for medical applications that is actually a good thing as CBD has the potential to make even unpleasantly high dosage levels of THC physically tolerable and it has medicinal value of its own. However, a grower wanting their product to showcase the effects of THC to healthy users who want to get high will want to grow a choice with less CBD. The advent of drug law reform in the USA is finally making this type of industry-driven strain creation a large-scale reality and a ‘new gold-rush’ of R&D appears to be underway on a massive scale. 

In the case of cacti, this is still an understudied subject but clearly qualitative composition needs as much consideration as quantitative considerations in the selective development of future offerings in horticulture. There is no reason to think this area can’t see a similar level of sophisticated breeding activities akin to what we are now seeing with Cannabis.

Trichocereus bridgesii 'Psycho0' x Trichocereus pachanoi 'Yowie'

13) How much does soil pH, conditions and nutrients etc effect alkaloid production?

They can tolerate a fairly narrow range of pH. Around neutral to very mildly alkaline is best for many but bridgesii can sometimes be unhappy with alkaline soil so neutral is a good general choice. Being in a friendly range of pH is about plant health so in that way can matter.

Wet and nice conditions work against good alkaloid production. They favor promoting good growth though, so a common strategy that people use is to go back and forth. Using intervals with lots of water and gentle feeding to stimulate abundant growth and then regularly starve them for water for periods of 3-6 months to bring the alkaloid levels back up. Starve them for water for at least several months, if not more, prior to harvesting. Siniscalco reported a 23X increase in the mescaline content of his Italian-grown peyote after 6 months of drought stress so the difference can be significant even in a potted plant. According to Cartod-Artul, some Peruvian shamans apparently will keep San Pedro cuttings sitting around for up to two years in the belief that they grow stronger during storage and that they favor those which have turned yellow.

As for feeding? Bloodmeal is a good choice to feed them with as it provides slow-release nitrogen. A large number of the women gardeners who I know incorporate their menstrual blood into their gardening practices in general with excellent results.

A useful rule of thumb for nitrogen sources is that nitrates favor vegetative growth, while ammonium favors alkaloid production.

It is a lot better to dilute the fertilizer too much and underfertilize than it is to use it too rich. Too much fertilizer produces adverse results and plants that will tend to become rot prone. Lush and succulent conditions generally imposes adverse impacts on potential alkaloid content and production. Moving the plants to better conditions will eventually correct that.

Climate can also make a huge difference. A person in a mild climate such as coastal California will have far better results at producing large and fat plants than someone who is living in an overly hot and harsh area like Arizona or Texas or someone who is forced to use a green house in colder climates.  The most magnificent plants are always ones grown in the earth or in beds rather than containers. Trichs really appreciate having free root run.

Trichocereus pachanoi 'Yowie'

14) When a slower growing species is grafted to a faster growing rootstock, is the potency of the scion effected?

Yes, adversely. But not as adversely as heavy watering.

It speeds up growth but alkaloid production takes more time to catch up with the artificially accelerated growth. There has only been one published study of this but there have also been a number of anecdotal bioassays reported by a few different people (including Leo Mercado and Derek Westlund). It is of great value for increasing numbers and the total biomass in a commercial horticultural operation but plants produced this way still need time to grow potent.

Lophophora williamsii grafted to Trichocereus spachianus

15) In your opinion which Trichocereus shows the most potential, but has been under studied?

The better chemical races of Trichocereus terscheckii. That area needs a lot more study due to it being known that there is a range of *qualitatively* different populations.

Trichocereus terscheckii 'Short spined'

16) Are there any under utilised Trichocereus?

I doubt it unless it is something that is presently unknown.


17) What is your personal favourite Trichocereus and why?

I love growing scopulicola due to being so friendly to touch and having that really distinctive wrinkled appearance when it gets older. The flowers are nice too but those columns eventually take on a majestic look that I really like.

Trichocereus scopulicola

18) What are the top five most impressive cacti gardens you have ever seen?

I enjoyed Robert Fields garden far more than any botanical garden. That was partly due to him being our wonderfully engaging and informative tour guide of course. What a memorable time we spent there. And I greatly enjoyed getting to meet you that day as well.

After that it was the Huntington when Gary Lyons let me come in on a closed day to explore the closed trails winding through the original Mexican Stenocereus giants planted by Hertrich and other dangerously overgrown sections. Prior to that visit I was annoyed about those closed sections but quickly discovered it had been an incredibly wise move on their part to close those trails in order to ensure public safety. Wow what impressive specimens exist there amidst the risk of some large and potentially collapsing plants.

I greatly enjoyed Cactus World despite the lack of name tags. It was really nice to be able to see such happy adults.

I saw a much smaller private collection at Cactusland in Melbourne that was also even more amazing to me than any botanical garden due to the guided tour and conversations. I just soaked it in though and did not take even a single photograph.

UC used to have some nice plants but their peculiar practice of leaving dead plants and disease intact on the notion it makes it look more natural is slowly but surely removing it. Or at least the gardener there told me that was his operational instructions just a few years ago. It was almost pathetic the last time I visited so I can’t help but wonder if the long term goal of that neglect was to make way for the cactus garden to be replaced by other plants when it becomes too much of an eye sore. The Strybig also used to have a nice small collection of interesting cacti but thievery has reduced it to almost nothing.

I would anticipate there must be at least a dozen or more magnificent botanical gardens I have not yet been to.

Trichocereus pachanoi 'Etienne'

19) Are there any sources for cacti that you recommend?

Yes, there is one. The single best source is going to Peru and finding what is wanted in either the witches’ markets (and sending them home) or by collecting seeds from nice looking plants. That contains both expense and the risk of loss. It can also get people what they are seeking if they employ common survival sense and focus simply on getting some good genetic quality for propagation rather than attempting something large. There are commercial vendors who claim to be willing to help but the extra cost that they add could, as often than not, pay the travel costs for a trip to Peru and the outcome from taking that ‘easier’ route generally includes acquiring a lot of unwanted plants.

*Check out the recommended vendors section on the side of this blog*

20) Lastly, what advice would you give to someone just starting out with San Pedro?

Read everything they can, be sure to look at the copyright dates and don’t take any of it too seriously. It is a good rule of thumb to dismiss most of what comes from the lay press or the Internet unless you can find it independently corroborated by someone who cares about scientific rigor and methodology. Religion is based on its perceptions of what is true and most often becomes crusty with fixed dogma. Some people want to regard science as if it was a religion and I suggest that is misguided. Science is a process of learning, understanding and discovery and it is therfore neither a religion nor a suitable basis for one.  The way it actually grows is by examining anything capable of raising a question in order to identify existing misconceptions and erroneous conclusions. Whenever science ceases to be a perpetually self-challenging and self-correcting system and becomes a surrogate for religion it also ceases to be real science.

That is also how a person should approach this entire area. Ask lots of questions and don’t be in any hurry to ingest anything (whether that is a plant or a purified molecule) without first getting adequate education about what is being entered into. That is the area where this crosses from science into hands-on spirituality and it is a serious business not even counting the potentially serious legal dangers. Personally I’d also suggest that most psychotics and many devout Christians might be happier avoiding tripping entirely as a fair number of times those groups of people seem to run into some psychospiritual trauma when their conditioning starts getting deprogrammed. That is not something to take lightly as it can potentially leave them in a crisis place that modern culture generally does not effectively address. It is running into a perception that they have entered the realms of ‘the original old-time religion’ that tends to create challenges for people. That can occur in two very opposite dimensions: this can collide with existing ideologies as mentioned above or it can sometimes propel a novice into prostelytization activity believing they have found something they must share with the world. I suspect that most, perhaps all, of us have either witnessed or experienced that last point occurring rather commonly in the area around ayahuasca as an example.

People can potentially find insight, inspiration and healing or they can find themselves mobilized, delusionally mislead or even traumatized by psychedelics. Add illegality and the threat of home invasion, loss of property, legal fees and even incarceration into that mix and there are a lot of reasons for people to care about getting adequately educated before taking a bite of a sacramental plant.

Trichocereus valida

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