COMMON NAMES: Hikuli, Hikuri Orchid, Cebolleta
Oncidium cebolleta is an epiphytic orchid that grows on trees and stone cliffs in the Tarahumara lands in Mexico. The pseudo-bulbs appear as swellings at the base of fleshy, round leaves which are grayish-green and often speckled with purple. The flowering spike, which often arches, has a green stalk with purple spots. The flowers have brown-yellow sepals and the petals are speckled with dark brown blotches. The three-lobed lip is bright yellow with red-brown marks (Voogelbreinder 2009, 250).
The genus Oncidium is one of the most species-rich genera of the New World. Oncidium cebolleta is found from Mexico to Paraguay, as well as in Florida. The plant has a strong rhizome, and blooms in late winter. It may occasionally be obtained through the international orchid trade (Voogelbreinder 2009, 250).
TRADITIONAL USES: Oncidium cebolleta is considered a peyote substitute or companion by the indigenous peoples of Mexico. It is utilised when Lophophora wiliamsii is not available. It is not certain whether the plant actually has psychotropic qualities, or if it is simply used as a medicinal peyote substitute (Ratsch 1998, 338).
TRADITIONAL PREPERATION: Oncidium cebolleta is prepared by crushing the fresh leaves whole in water. The resulting infusion is then consumed. The leaves may also be crushed with salt and then applied externally to treat bone fractures and contusions (Voogelbreinder 2009, 250).
MEDICINAL USES: In many parts of Mexico, the leaves of O. ceboletta are applied externally to treat bone fractures and other serious physical traumas. Other species of Oncidium are used in Mexico, Columbia, and Ecuador as an antiseptic and headache treatment (Voogelbreinder 2009, 250).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Oncidium cebolleta has yielded a number of phenanthrenes, and nudol. Phenanthrines may sometimes produce sedation and compulsive gnawing in mice and rats, and pecking and emesis in pigeons. Recent reports claim that the seeds have “potent psychotropic powers” (Stermitz et al. 1983).
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Stermitz, F.R., Suess, T.R., Schauer, C.K., Anderson, O.P., Bye, R.A., New and Old Phenanthrene Derivatives from Oncidium cebolleta, A Peyote-Replacement Plant. J. Nat. Prod., 46, 417-423, 1983
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.