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Peruvian Torch cactus

Peruvian Torch cactus

Two distinct forms of Peruvian Torch cactus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Echinopsis
Species: E. peruviana
Binomial name
Echinopsis peruviana
(Britton & Rose)

Trichocereus peruvianus

Peruvian Torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana syn. Trichocereus peruvianus) is a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the western slope of the Andes in Peru, between about 2000-3000 meters above sea level.

The plant is bluish-green in colour, with frosted stems, and 6-8 broadly rounded ribs; it has large, white flowers. It can grow up to 7 meters tall, with stems up to 20 cm in diameter; it is fully erect to begin with, but later possibly arching over, or even becoming prostrate. Groups of 6-8 honey-coloured to brown rigid spines, up to 4 cm in length, with most about 1 cm, are located at the nodes, which are evenly spaced along the ribs, up to approximately 2.5 cm apart.

A short-spined variant which is nearly identical in appearance to its relative, the San Pedro cactus, is known. It is therefore possible that many misidentified plants are being sold (both as Peruvian Torch and as San Pedro), but since local variations as well as hybrids do exist (both cultivated and natural), this will obviously make proper identification difficult.




  • For dandruff and seborrhea or for a general shampoo, mucilage of the stem is used.
  • Sore throat: Decoction of the stem.
  • Antirheumatic: The stem is cut, soaked for a day and the next day used to wash the area of pain with this mucilage water.
  • Vetrinarial: For getting rid of pig parasites, the cactus stem is peeled, smashed and let to soak in water overnight. It is then mixed with food given to the animal.
  • Adherent in paints: The peeled stems are beaten and left to stand in water, filtrate is added to minerals such as lime or gypsum. The result is a kind of gum for paint.
  • Wood: The dried stalks are very resistant moths. The dried stalks are used to make scales and in the construction of houses.


It contains a number of psychoactive alkaloids, in particular the well-studied chemical mescaline, which it contains at higher levels than those of the San Pedro cactus (although not as high as peyote, as sometimes is stated wrongly).


  • var. cuzcoensis (KK340), Huachac, Cuzco, southeastern Peru.
  • var.(H14192), Huntington, EE.UU.
  • var. huancabamba, Piura, northwest Peru.
  • var. huancavelica (KK242a), west central Peru.
  • var. huancayo (KK338), west central Peru.
  • var. ancash (KK1688), San Marcos, Ancash, northwest Peru.
  • var. matucana (KK242) Lima, central west Peru.
  • var. puquiensis (KK1689), Puquio, Apurimac, southwestern Peru.
  • var. trujilloensis, Trujillo, La Libertad, northwestern Peru.
  • var. tarmensis (KK2148), Tarma, Junin, west central Peru.
  • var. Rio Lurin (KK2147), Rio Rimac, Lima, west central Peru.
  • var. ayacuchensis (KK2151), southwestern Peru.
  • var. huaraz (KK2152), Ancash, northwestern Peru.



  1. ^ a b Spanish Wikipedia Article

General references

  • James D. Mauseth, Roberto Kiesling, Cactus and Succulent Journal (US) 70 (1): 32-39
  • Michael S. Smith, The Narcotic and Hallucinogenic Cacti of the New World
  • Trichocereus peruvianus - Peruvian torch cactus
  • Growing Trichocereus species (
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Peruvian_Torch_cactus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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