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Huachuma
San Pedro / Aguacolla / Tsunaq / Espino / Remedio

 

Huachuma / San Pedro is a medicinal cactus native to the mid-elevation Andes of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The plants are known to botanists as Echinopsis pachanoi, Echinopsis peruviana, Echinopsis santaensis, Echinopsis bridgesii, and related species. 

 

Andean and Coastal peoples have been in unbroken relationship with the medicine for at least 4,000 years, and this connection was fundamental to the development of early Andean civilization and the brilliance of the many cultures that followed: Norte Chico, Chavín, Cupisnique, Moche, Wari, Chimu, and more.

Today, the cultural world of Huachuma / San Pedro is centered on North Peru, in the provinces of Ancash, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura, Cajamarca, Amazonas, and Tumbes. There, the medicine’s renowned mestizo carriers treat patients and pilgrims from throughout South America.

 

The uses and traditional knowledge of the San Pedro Cactus have been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Peru. Today, few young people are learning the art of Huachuma from their elders and traditional knowledge is being forgotten.

Declining populations of wild Huachuma in Peru were first reported 50 years ago, and today the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment recognizes that all species of San Pedro are endangered.  Peruvian botanists have recommended that Huachuma be placed on the international endangered species list (CITES). Illegal harvesting is the most significant cause of this decline.

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About the Plant

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Cultural Traditions in North Peru

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Threats to Plants and Culture

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