COMMON NAMES: Caapi-pinima
Tetrapterys methystica is a scandent bush. It has a trunk with black bark, ashy-yellow branches with internodes at 4-10cm long. The leaves are chartaceous, ovate, long acuminate, mostly basally rounded, margin entire but slightly revolute. The upper surface of the leaves are bright green, and the under surface is an ashy green. Inflorescences are pseudocorymbose, with 4-5 flowers a-piece, much shorter than the leaves. The fruit, or samara, is ovoid with brownish wings. Tetrapterys methystica is found primarily in the Rio Vaupes Basin, near the border between Columbia and Brazil (Hofmann et al. 1992, 59).
TRADITIONAL USES: The Maku people of the Rio Tikie of the Brazilian Amazon prepare a cold-water infusion of T. methystica bark to make a strongly hallucinogenic brew. There is no other plant ingredient. The drink is very bitter and has an unusual yellow hue. This may be the ‘second kind’ of caapi mentioned by several explorers as caapi-pinima, meaning ‘painted caapi.’ The use of the plant was first described in 1954 by Richard Schultes (Ratsch 1998, 584).
T. methystica is used by several different groups of indigenous peoples of the region to prepare ayahuasca. It is also decocted by the Makuna people and used as a febrifuge. The peoples of the Rio Piraparana area boil the bark along with Strychnos erichsonii bark for 4-5 hours to produce a weak dart poison. Finally, other species of the plant are used to treat infections and illnesses (Voogelbreinder 2009, 328).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: The bark of T. methystica is pounded and soaked in cold water to produce a psychoactive infusion by the Maku of the Brazilian Amazon. It is also used in the same way as Banisteriopsis caapi in ayahuasca preparations.
MEDICINAL USES: The Makuna people decoct the leaves and vine of T. methystica and use it to treat fevers. Little else is known about the medicinal uses of this plant.
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Although T. methystica produces effects identical to those of Banisteriopsis caapi, we still know nothing of its chemistry. However, it is closely related to Banisteriopsis and there is every probability that similar or identical alkaloids , including beta-carboline, are present.
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.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.