COMMON NAMES: False Peyote, Peyotillo, Asselkaktus, Hatchet Cactus, Peyote Meco (‘shaking peyote’)
Pelecyphora aselliformis can grow to up to 10 cm in height. It is gray-green and round with lateral, flattened tubercles that have scale-like spines and are arranged in a spiral. The flowers grow up to 3 cm across and are a brilliant violet color. The fruits take the form of red pods. This species is often confused with the closely related Pelecyphora strobiliformis, and other cacti which are similar in appearance (Ratsch 1998, 428).
Pelecyphora aselliformis is relatively rare and is only found in northern Mexico. The plant is propagated from seeds in the same manner as Lophophora williamsii. It grows very slowly and must be protected from excessive moisture and from frosts (Ratsch 1998, 428).
TRADITIONAL USES: P. aselliformis is a well known medicinal ‘peyote’ sold in the markets of San Luís Potosí, Mexico. It is used as a remedy for fevers and rheumatic pains. Extracts have also been shown to have antibiotic activity (Voogelbreinder 2009, 268).
It was first described as a sort of peyote by Britton and Rose who state that “it is said by the Mexicans to possess medicinal properties.” Schultes, citing Britton and Rose, regards P. aselliformis as a plant “said to be either narcotic or medicinal.” William Emboden, the author of Narcotic Plants, is the only one who has claims to have witnessed the efficacy of this plant as a “psychomimetic,” a plant that mimics psychosis. Unfortunately Emboden fails to describe any particulars of the intoxication. Anderson says it is “unclear if it was ever used ceremonially” (Gottlieb 1977)
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Peyotillo was once used in a similar manner to peyote by some peoples of northern Mexico. A powder of the cactus was also sold for a time in Paris with the name poudre de peyote (Peyote Powder). The flesh of the aboveground portion of the cactus can be consumed fresh or dried. Information regarding specific preparation techniques and dosage is difficult to locate (Gottlieb 1977).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Mescaline levels are minimal, and it can be assumed that other alkaloids, or non-alkaloidal properties, account for the plant’s reputed psychoactivity. Emboden reported that consuming one fresh cactus caused peyote like effects, including visual phenomena, though they were not as dramatic as with actual peyote (Ratsch 1998, 429).
Gottlieb, A., Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti. Berkeley: Ronin Publishing, Inc., 1977
Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C., Schultes, R., Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.