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, Echinopsis pachanoi (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.


Some uses for Echinopsis peruviana include:[1]

  • 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 to moths. The dried stalks are used to make scales and in the construction of houses.


USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12[2]

Echinopsis peruviana can be propagated from either seeds or cuttings.[2]

Propagation from cuttings

Like many other plants, Echinopsis peruviana can be propagated from cuttings. The result is a genetic clone of the parent plant.[3] For example, the top 15 cm end of a cactus column can be cut off with a knife, then the cutting can be left to dry for about two weeks in the shade, or in a dry place. This is so that the surface of the cut end dries out like paper forming a seal to keep out microorganisms such as mold. The cutting can then be dipped in rooting hormone (optional, but effective) and planted on the surface of or buried to a maximum of 2.5 cm deep in good topsoil mixed with some sand and perlite. The cutting is kept in the shade or indirect sunlight, so that the root system can develop and the cactus does not grow too thinly. After about six months, significant roots will have formed and the cutting can be repotted in the same type of soil.[3]


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


Echinopsis peruviana ssp. puquiensis (Rauh & Backeb.) C.Ostolaza Nano[4]


Some varieties of Echinopsis peruviana are:[1]

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



General references

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Echinopsis peruviana. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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