An interesting bit of peyote plant info is the form of documentation necessary to grow it.
The part of peyote that is used for ritual is the small cushion-like upper part. The larger root is left in the ground to regenerate a new crown. The upper part is dried or used fresh and is called a peyote button. These are generally no larger than a quarter once dried and the dosage is 6 to 15 buttons. Older peyote plants produce offsets and develop into larger clumps of many plants. The cactus has 9 narcotic alkaloids of the isoquinoline series. The bulk of the effect is visual hallucinations, but auditory and olfactory alterations are also present.
Peyote cactus is a small plant native to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and northeastern Mexico. It has numerous psychoactive chemicals, chiefly mescaline, which is used in religious ceremonies to elevate awareness and cause a mental and physical high. Peyote cultivation is a time-consuming process, as the plant can take up to 13 years to mature. In any event, growing peyote is illegal unless you are a member of the church and have filed the proper paperwork.
Only the 5 states listed allow church members to grow the plant. It is illegal in all other states and is federally unlawful. In other words, it is not a good idea to try to grow it unless you are a documented member of the Native American Church. For the rest of us, the star cactus will provide similar visual appeal and growth habit, without the danger of jail time.
The plant is considered endangered due to over-harvesting and land development. A similar-looking cactus, Astrophytum Asterias, or star cactus, is legal to grow, but it is also endangered. Star cactus has only 8 ribs and a fibrous root system. It is also called the sand dollar or sea urchin cactus. Star cactus requires similar care to that of peyote and other cacti.
The bulk of the plant is underground where thick, wide roots form, looking much like parsnips or carrots. The upper part of the cactus grows about an inch (2.5 cm.) out of the ground in a rounded habit with a diameter of less than 2 inches (5 cm.). It is greenish-blue with 5 to 13 ribs and fuzzy hairs. Peyote plants often have tubercles, which give the ribs a spiral appearance. Occasionally, the plant will produce pink flowers which become club-shaped, edible pink berries.
Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is a spineless cactus with a rich history of ritual use in the First Nation culture. In the United States the plant is illegal to cultivate or eat unless you are a member of the Native American Church. The plant is considered poisonous by U.S. officials but First Nations people use it as a sacrament and pathway to religious and personal enlightenment.
- You must be in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon or Colorado.
- You must be a member of the NAC and at least 25% First Nations.
- You are required to write a Declaration of Religious Belief, get it notarized and file it with the County Recorder’s Office.
- You must post a copy of this document above the location where plants will be grown.
While growing peyote is not allowed unless you are a member of the NAC, it is a fascinating plant with attributes worth learning about. There are, however, peyote plant look-a-likes you can grow at home that will satisfy your urge to cultivate this cute little cactus without breaking the law.
While growing peyote is not allowed unless you are a member of the Native American Church (NAC), it is a fascinating plant with attributes worth learning about. Read this article to learn more and find similar plants that you can grow.
It is generally accepted that the Kiowa 1 people migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains, before they got eventually relocated to their reservation in southwestern Oklahoma in 1867. Before relocation, the Kiowa lived mainly from buffalo hunting and followed the animal herds. As hunters and gatherers, they were famous and feared for the long distance raids that ranged from Mexico to Canada.
As Oklahoma became part of the designated Indian territory that followed the Indian removal act of 1830, numerous tribes were relocated to these lands – among them, the Kiowa. By 1874, the ‘”wild Indians of the Plains”, or what was left of them, had joined the civilized tribes in Oklahoma. Peyote would have been known to many of these tribes.
Peyote is a small spine-free cactus that contains the psychotropic compound mescaline. The use of mescaline by indigenous American people can be traced back at least 5,500 years and possibly further.
In the book “Peyote Music” David McAllester lists seven general characteristics of peyote music thats sets it apart from other tribal music:
There are a number of subspecies that vary in colour, but they all share common characteristics. They are a squat bulbous species growing no taller than seven centimetres. They have flattened spherical buttons divided by prominent ribs that can grow to fifteen centimetres in diameter. Left to grow the buttons can form large coral like clumps. They do not have spines typical of cactus, but small slightly raised areolae that sprout a tuft of white fuzz.
Water cannot be drunk by anyone at anytime, so there are two dedicated rituals for drinking – the water calls. They occurs twice, once at midnight and once in the morning. There is a special eagle wing bone whistle used only for the water calls. Only the leader plays the whistle. The water ritual follows a strict structure: the leader recalls the drum, staff, rattle, and other objects passed out. The fire chief replenishes the fire and puts four sticks of cedar on the fire. He also carefully cleans the altar and the floor. The leader then brings in a bucket of water and sings fixed water songs that bless the water. Once the water has been blessed, he spills some water on ground and then passes the bucket around clockwise so that everyone can drink.
The leader begins the singing with four fixed opening songs and holds the staff in front of him. The chief drummer accompanies him. After the four opening songs the water drum, the rattle, the staff and the fan are passed around clockwise. Each man in the circle is expected to sing four songs, and each song is repeated four times. The man sitting right to him is playing the accompaniment on the water drum. “The singer holds the staff in his left hand and accompanies himself with the rattle in his right hand.” Traditionally, women do neither sing nor drum. The drumming and singing goes all night, except for pause during the midnight water call.
Along with the tobacco, sage bunches are passed around clockwise as wise. But they are not burned; they are rubbed in the hands and chewed. After the speech and prayer the chief lays out the paraphernalia on the ground between the leader and the altar. At that time the first cedar is thrown into the fire. The peyote buttons are now incensed before being passed around clockwise. Each participant takes 4 buttons to start out. Each button gets chewed, then spit into the hands, rolled, offered to altar and then swallowed.
This type of humidity might seem strange for a desert species, but they do respond well. They will not need to be watered at all in these early stages. After two or three weeks small green spheres will appear where there were seeds. These are the infant peyotes. After four weeks prick a few small holes in the plastic, it is time to start dehumidifying and hardening off.
Your patient journey to a personal peyote garden begins with Zamnesia peyote seeds. This easy guide explains how to grow from seed to hallucinations.