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Identifying the Lophophora Genus

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Here is a basic identification guide for those who are still new to the Lophophora genus. Enjoy and feel free to comment. Please note, my guide is based upon the Kaktusy - Lophophora Coulter edition (2005), and contains excerpts from this handbook. There is much controversy regarding the genus and classifications of sub species, but I feel this is by far the most efficient and up to date at this point in time.

OVERVIEW

Firstly, there are four natural species within the Lophophora genus:

- L. williamsii

- L. diffusa

- L. fricii

- L. koehresii

There is also one cultivar, not found in the wild:

- L. jourdaniana

And there is recent speculation (June 2008) about a new, miniature species, found in the wild and flowers when the crown is around 15mm diameter (see here for further information):

- L. alberto-vojtechii

SECTIONS

Kaktusy propose that the genus should be broken into the following two sections (and numerous reasons are given for this proposition, including alkaloid composition, habitat, hybridisation compatibility and macroscopic appearance):

- Diffusae (containing L. diffusa, L. fricii and L. koehresii)

- Lophophora (containing L. williamsii)

Section Diffusae information excerpted from Kaktusy:

Common features and characteristics of the section Diffusae:

Similar chemical composition of its alkaloid content, among which pellotinoids prevail. None of the species in the section is autogamous. The flowers have longer receptacle tubes. The epidermis is thin and vulnerable. The ribs are often diffuse or indistinct. If ribs are produced, they may reach up to 21 in old plants. No shallow podaria are formed on the ribs separated by transverse horizontal notches. The structure and shape of the roots are similar to the smooth and fine epidermis.

Section Lophophora information excerpted from Kaktusy:

Common features and characteristics of the section Lophophora:

Similar composition of alkaloids, with mescaline alkaloids prevailing. With few exceptions, the various forms of L. williamsii are autogamous. The epidermis is rather thick and tough, often with a purplish undertone. The ribs are distinct, straight or spiralled in a maximum number of 13. Typically, horizontal notches form in the ribs. Sometimes the areollae merge into a nearly unbroken line. The wool is sticky, solidifying into tough crests and staying on the plant for a long time. The roots typically have quite a rough texture.

SPECIES

L. williamsii is by far the most common species, stretching across most of the Lophophora habitat. This is commonly known as peyote, and contains various psychoactive compounds, the main and most active being mescaline. L. williamsii is also one of the easiest to identify. The distinctive ribbing in older specimens is usually vertical or spiralling, with most plants starting with five ribs and developing up to thirteen with maturity. Flowers are pale pink with shorter petals than the other sub species. All sub species will clump with age (though some individual plants tend to stay singular for their lifetimes), but L. williamsii forma caespitosa (seen in the central photo below) tends to pup at a very young age and can carpet a large area in its lifetime.

L. williamsii characteristics information excerpted from Kaktusy (page 32):

L. williamsii Characteristics:

Flattened or depressed, spherical plants with solitary to clustering stems; the ribs are distinct, only occasionally broken into podaria; the greyish green epidermis is of a firm nature and bears a thick layer of cutin and surface waxes. Flowers rather small with a short tube in pinkish white to richly pink hues. The pink cylindrical fruit bears the remnants of the perianth. Seeds black, distinct from those of the other species.

post-2347-1185848182_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848203_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848224_thumb.jpg

L. diffusa is a far rarer species named after its rib habit. It has diffuse ribs (meaning they are not clean-cut ribs as found in the L. williamsii sub species) which tend to have a somewhat 'pinecone'-like appearance with the rib pattern. The epidermis (skin) is a lighter green, bordering on a yellowish tinge. Flowers are very similar to that of L. williamsii, but can have a yellow/green/white colouring. The main compound found in L. diffusa is pellotine and mescaline levels are very low.

L. diffusa characteristics information excerpted from Kaktusy (page 14):

L. diffusa Characteristics:

A large, appressed, spherical stem; solitary to clustered growth; peculiar yellowish green soft epidermis; diffuse ribs, often broken into separate low podaria; off-white flowers with shades of yellow and rarely pink; cylindrical, white to dark pink fruits.

post-2347-1185848278_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848305_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848257_thumb.jpg

L. fricii has a rib structure very much like that of L. diffusa, but with an epidermis colour more like that of L. williamsii (darker green than L. diffusa). Flowers are very bright pink and are the main distinguishing point from L. diffusa.

L. fricii characteristics information excerpted from Kaktusy (page 26):

L. fricii Characteristics:

A flattened spherical species of solitary to markedly clustered growth and an immense diversity of features; the numerous ribs are conspicuous to absolutely diffuse; the colour of its thin epidermis varies from yellowish green to greyish green; flowers vary from nearly white to dark purple-pink; seeds are similar to those of L. williamsii at first sight, but differ in the shape of the hilium, which is reminiscent of a shark's maw, and in the texture of the testa.

post-2347-1185848330_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848350_thumb.jpg

L. koehresii is supposedly the smallest of the genus (or at least was, until the recent speculation about L. alberto-vojtechii), with a growth habit very similar to that of L. diffusa. Flowers are light pink, but have much longer petals with pointed tips.

L. koehresii characteristics information excerpted from Kaktusy (page 20):

L. koehresii Characteristics:

Dwarf, depressed spherical, solitary species with a marked dark green epidermis; does not sprout spontaneously in the wild; the initially distinct ribs later break down, sometimes almost disappearing and transforming into low podaria; flowers large with mostly long and narrow petals, the white to pink colouring supplemented with brown stripes shading from the outer petals inwards, and making a characteristic colour combination; unusual spherical fruits with the remnants of the perianth shed before it ripens; the seeds are largest of all lophophoras with a very characteristic testa.

post-2347-1185848373_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848394_thumb.jpgpost-2347-1185848449_thumb.jpg

L. jourdaniana is thought to have been a cross breed between a Lophophora and possibly Turbinicarpus. It is only found in human cultivation, and as such is classed as a cultivar. It is the only sub species to have small spines (others only have tufts of wool at each areole, but may have very small spines at a young age). Flowers are a dark magenta-pink. This species is very rare and is not thought to be found in Australia at this point in time.

post-2347-1185848471_thumb.jpg

CONCLUSION

I guess all in all, the easiest way to ID the Lophophora species is that L. williamsii has very distinct ribs, while the other species are hard to tell apart without a flower. It might also be noted that there is visible difference between the sub species in the seedling stage - the cotyledons (seed leaves) tend to be slightly differently shaped, though L. diffusa, fricii and koehresii are all very similar (as are the mature plants) - which can give you a bit of a clue when differentiating between the sub species, but I wont go into that now.

REFERENCES

All pics were borrowed from here without permission. Please have a look there for more brilliant photos of the Lophophora genus and almost every other within the Cactacae.

Information about the Kaktusy 2005/2 Genus Lophophora Coulter. booklet can be found here.

Cheers,

Ace

Updated (March 2009) to include detailed excerpt from Kaktusy.

Edited by Ace
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have many from SAB been grafting many Koehresii or Fricii? Would love some pups to try grafting in summer. I also haven't heard of anyone grafting Loph Diffusa at all!! Not sure why, as this species is probably worth more than Williamsii and would surely be worth grafting at least 1 or 2 pups for value/cultivations sake.

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nice, ill pin it up. Flowers on diffusa are yellow/green/white

Edited by teonanacatl

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Thanks Teo :worship: I have updated the key to include your flower colouring info.

Sabre: I have started grafting all Loph sub species (bar L. fricii, which I have not yet aquired seeds). Like you pointed out, the diffusa/fricii/koehresii are the rarest of the genus, but due to their lack of mescaline they frequently get left out of collections. I hope to have a few specimens that I can use for seed production and eventually for pupping. When I have enough stock happening I'll be sure to share with the community in an aid to conserve this genus in cultivation :)

I find that diffusa/koehresii seedlings tend to be much larger than williamsii and seem to be very easy to graft (probably due to larger seedling size).

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also this doesnt represent a key, key would involve steps, so its just descriptions :) but yeah nice one.

Ive got all those species too so no doubt will be plants soon.

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you have stated alkaloids in williamsii and diffusa but not fricii or others. need to find out.

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fricii has major pellotine and minor mescaline

caespitose williamsii has pellotine, anhalidine, anhalonidine, anhalamine and lophophorine as a nonphenolic alkaloid.

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Cactus alkaloids of Lophophora williamsi var caespitosa. Fujita, Mitiiti; Itokawa, Hideji; Inoue, Junko; Nozu, Yoshimasa; Goto, Natsue; Hasegawa, Kazuko. Tokyo Coll. Pharm., Tokyo, Japan. Yakugaku Zasshi (1972), 92(4), 482-9. CODEN: YKKZAJ ISSN: 0031-6903. Journal written in Japanese. CAN 77:48674 AN 1972:448674 CAPLUS

Abstract

From L. williamsi var caespitosa, pellotine, anhalidine, anhalonidine, and anhalamine were obtained as phenolic alkaloids, and lophophorine as a nonphenolic alkaloid. A kind of betaine-type yellow components, I, II, III, and IV, were isolated. A similar type of tautomerism was found in I and IV, and they had pKa 6.0 and 6.5 resp. A different type of tautomerism was found in II and III. II had pKa1 5.6 and pKa2 10.9, and III had pKa1 6.7 and pKa2 11.4.

Please try and get the paper if you can

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you have stated alkaloids in williamsii and diffusa but not fricii or others. need to find out.

Sorry mate, this info is very hard to find on the net or pretty much anywhere. I think you will find that due to their vast similarities between L. diffusa, koehresii and fricii that they are likely to be quite similar, i.e. mostly pellotine and very minimal to nil amounts of mescaline.

I did happen to find this information regarding alkaloids:

Oscillographic polarography has been applied for the mescaline and pellotine estimation. These alkaloids produce in 0.5 N NaOH electrolyte a sharp peak within the cathode region of the oscillogram, each of them showing different potential. It makes possible to estimate them at a concentration of 5.10(-6) g/ml. All the forms of Lophophora williamsii were found to contain mescaline and lower content of pellothine, L. jourdaniana--to have equal content of both alkaloide, L. diffusa and L. fricii--to contain pellotine and only traces of mescaline. Plants grown in the greenhouse accumulated the same amount of alkaloids as native plants. Grafting on roodstock which does not produce essential amount of the alkaloids, does not affect the ability of Lophophora to synthesize mescaline and pellotine.
From here

Just re-found this site: http://www.cactus-art.biz/. There are heaps of fantastic photos and descriptions on the site, although their classification does not appear as up to date as that of the Lophophora Coulter. I would recommend using the above information for the sub species in the genus instead of those found on the cactus-art website, but even still, it is interesting. Below are links to various loph species:

L. fricii

L. koehresii

L. diffusa

L. williamsii

L. jourdaniana

L. williamsii var. caespitosa

L. williamsii v. texensis

L. williamsii crestata

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caespitose williamsii has pellotine, anhalidine, anhalonidine, anhalamine and lophophorine as a nonphenolic alkaloid.

so... no mescaline in caespitose??

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The problem with lack of info is that williamsii and diffusa were the only species when the research was done.

The info ive given on caespitose is all I have. Please treat alkaloid studies of lophophora in the same way as those of Trichocereus.

Edited by teonanacatl

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has anyone got any info to add regarding mescaline in caespitose var? has anyone heard of any bioassay?

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can someone do chemical analysis to determine if there is mescaline in caespitose? i can supply grafted samples for analysis. not as good as ones grown naturally but someone should be able to do the appropriate analysis. who is doing a chem degree atm? would be really good to clear this up. unfortunately it is illegal for me to extract and test. it is also illegal for me to consume these cacti as a religious sacrament in accordance with my religion. so i have no idea if they contain mescaline.

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Where is this study data? It sounds like an error to me, Id really like to check it out....

I really dont think that there is even a question about whether caespitosa have mescaline content,... really?,.... is there???????? But only how much, as even diffusae, and fricci have mescaline, in limited amounts, and as far as I know caespo are willi's..which are supposed to have much more

I dont know why any lophophora would be devoid of mescaline..period ... I figure perhaps these studies were done on juevenile plants or seedlings,... that hadnt yet started large mescaline production/storage..as Ive heard that only older lophophora willi will begin producing and storage of mesc..

Im not an expert though - but I would be blown away if they were completely barren of mesc

Cheers

Charliewired

Edited by charliewired

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I think the alkaloids listed above for caespitose were the et al. alkaloids. As in it contains mescaline, et al.

So those are what would give it its character.

Is there a curandero in the house?

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Got the info from trouts book!!

These by habermann 1978

mescaline 0.701%(+-0.085) but he doesnt know if its dry weight

Pellotine 0.300%(+-0.095) " "

then these from that japanese paper all %wet weight

pellotine 0.01%

Anahalidine 0.005%

Anahalonidine 0.001%

Anahalamine detected

lophophorine detected

apparently they did not find any mescaline but trout mentions distrusting the translators accuracy, plants were grown in japan.

can someone do chemical analysis to determine if there is mescaline in caespitose? i can supply grafted samples for analysis. not as good as ones grown naturally but someone should be able to do the appropriate analysis. who is doing a chem degree atm? would be really good to clear this up. unfortunately it is illegal for me to extract and test. it is also illegal for me to consume these cacti as a religious sacrament in accordance with my religion. so i have no idea if they contain mescaline

call up university chem department and ask them.

Edited by teonanacatl

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I prefer diffusa grafts myself,and yes they are rarer than wills IME.

My Japanese cultivar of diffusa,''koike'' :)

post-230-1186350014_thumb.jpg

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Despite the assorted conjecture appearring in print about jourdaniana over the years its worth recalling this was a flower color variant that originally appeared in horticulture after being culled out of large lots (note the use of the plural) of wild collected williamsii that had already been shipped to Europe. It was selected based on flower color and nothing is known about its actual origin. Its been in cultivation for the better part of a century.

It likely does occur in the wild, probably as a bud mutation as no populations have ever been found. Whatever it is it is not a species in horticulture but rather a cultivar.

Fricii was reported by Haberman and by Starha to have a diffusa type alkaloid profile. Koehresii is likely to be the same. Despite its range partly overlapping with the lowermost williamsii populations it grows in different soil and not with williamsii.

The casepitosa is a form not a variety. The Japanese looked at pumped up grafts.

All need better work.

Most modern researchers outside of horticulture now recognize williamsii, diffusa, fricii and koehresii. Inside of horticulture exists much nonsense.

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Thanks for the fantastic link Trucha. That was probably the best write up on the different species I have seen yet, and the quiz at the end was very, very good :) I got two wrong (number 5, thought it was fricii; and 8, thought might have been williamsii or diffusa). Absolutely fantastic research, and whoever has compiled it (I assume you might have helped, Truch?) has done a great job.

Got me in the mood to make a 'Guess the Loph' thread! Now I just have to find some good pics and some acurate labels (or just ID them myself :)).

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I just created the web piece -- it was Martin Terry and his team that did the field work last year and the web piece was based on the actual sequence of their trip and incorporated a lot of Martin's comments concerning the images and the webwork in progress. (Some of those comments were based on earlier work he did on Texas populations.)

All of those images of Mexican plants were acquired in that one trip. As was DNA samples of representatives of every population they examined. Obviously there was some substantial leg work on their part to prepare for that and a lot of work for htem still left to do.

The plan is to keep posting the outcome of Martin's research as fast as results can be made available for release.

I'm also working on expanding the Lopho pic links at their links page.

Please let me know of good sites I've missed. I know there are tons I have failed to relocate - especially in Japanese.

Edited by trucha

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that is a great reference site! i love all the photos of wild peyote!!! so much nicer than looking at them in pots. Is there any news on the dna work being done? do we know what to properly label our "fricii, koehresii, diffusa and williamsii" yet? when i first heard what they were doing i went out and bought a new set of plant labels for when the verdict is in....i am itching to write up some new labels HAHA.

i am just curious what your take is on teh relationship, if any, is between fricii and koehresii? the more i grow them the more i think they are so much alike. their petal shape and the way they are coloured (although with different colours), their ability to at least sort of hybridize (i can only get koehresii to take fricii pollen, not the other way around...but may others were able?) and also their growth habit shape seems similar. just an observation, but they seem far more close than koehresii and diffusa are together....from the outside anyway.....any thoughts?

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Lophophora species-

Lophophora brackii / Lophophora decepiens var. brackii (?)

Lophophora decepiens

Lophophora diffusa

Lophophora fricii

Lophophora koehresii

Lophophora jourdaniana

Lophophora williamsii

Many, many more strains and cultivators exist, especially of Lophophora williasmii.

~Diffusae~

Lophophora diffusa

Lophophora koehresii

~Williamsiae~

Lophophora brackii / Lophophora decepiens var. brackii (?)

Lophophora decepiens

Lophophora fricii

Lophophora jourdaniana (Possibly a hybrid, not found wild)

Lophophora williamsii; var. texana; var. caespitosa

Out-of-date-names-

Anhalonium lewinii

Echinocactus williamsii

Lophophora echinata

Lophophora lewinii

Lophophora lutea

Lophophora viridescens

Lophophora ziegleri

~Teotzlcoatl~

P.S.- Am I missing anything? Is anything incorrect?

What kind of argument can be made for the distictiveness of Lophophora brackii / Lophophora decepiens var. brackii???

Edited by Teotz'

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Great thread, L. jourdaniana is available from earthalchemy, pretty pricey though.

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jourdaniana should be viewed as a horticultural cultivar since no wild populations have been demonstrated.

There is apparently a newer species, assuming this proves to be valid:

Lophophora alberto-vojtechii

Jaroslav Bohata

in Cactus & Co 2008 2 (12): 105-117.

Its a miniature with an unusual flower,

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