The Trichocereus peruvianus is synonymous with Echinopsis peruviana. Both scientific names refer to the same species of psychedelic cactus – the Peruvian Torch cactus. This plant contains several alkaloids including the well-research mescaline.
Healthy specimens of the Peruvian Torch cactus have a bluish green hue. They are columnar and can grow up to 3 to 6 meters tall in the wild with stems up to 8 to 18cm in diameter. Because of the weight brought by its height, it sometimes arches over despite starting out as fully erect. In some instances, the cactus even becomes fully prostrate.
The Peruvian Torch cactus has 4 to 8 ribs. Each rib has groups of 6 to 8 honey-colored to brown spines which can reach lengths of 4cm. They evenly-spaced and are approximately 1 inch apart.
This mescaline cactus species is often confused with the Echinopsis pachanoi, a related species with shorter spines. To the untrained eye, the Echinopsis pachanoi, also known as the San Pedro cactus, is identical. Hence, it’s very possible many plants are being sold with the wrong name.
On top of the extreme similarities, hybrids between the two exist thus making proper identification difficult.
This fast-growing columnar cactus grows in the western slope of the Andes in Peru. Peruvian Torch cactus is typically spotted between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level. However, this plant can be cultivated from seeds or cutting as long as they are placed in an environment with a tropical to temperate climate.
The Peruvian Torch cactus is one of many Trichocereus cacti indigenous to the Andes which are reported to contain the psychoactive alkaloid mescaline. The other species are T. pachanoi, T. lageniformis, T. scopulicola, T. santaensis, and T. puquiensis.
Mescaline concentrations can vary even within specimens of the same species. Factors which can affect their mescaline content include temperature, and water availability. Studies have reported dried Peruvian Torch cactus contains approximately 0.24% mescaline.