Lophophora Decipiens

Lophophora Decipiens: The New Peyote Cactus

The Lophophora decipiens used to be a subspecies of the infamous Lophophora williamsii. Due to recent developments, the Lophophora decipiens is now considered as a separate species of peyote. How does it differ from the old peyote cactus people are more familiar with?

What is the Lophophora decipiens?

Any discussion about the Lophophora decipiens is not complete without a conversation about the Lophophora williamsii. Both are members of the cactus family but the latter is more commonly referred to as “peyote.”

Peyote has gained a reputation as an entheogenic plant because it contains the psychoactive compound mescaline which has a similar effect to LSD and psilocybin. Shamans and modern psychonauts turn to peyote to for spiritual and medicinal use.

Until recently, the Lophophora decipiens was considered a subspecies of L. williamsii. Taxonomists have now identified the Lophophora decipiens as an entirely different species.

But how did this come to be? Why wasn’t the L. decipiens classified as a separate species much earlier?

It all boils down to the messy classification of and within the Lophophora genus. The genus Lophophora was first used to describe plants which displayed well-defined tubercles but no sharply-defined ribs. Unfortunately, this identification applies to several cactus species.

In general, Lophophora plants grow low to the ground and form groups of numerous, dense sprouts. These sprouts have a blue-green, yellowish-green, or reddish-green hue, flattened and spherical in shape, and possess a recessed sprout top.

Members of the Lophophora genus don’t grow taller than 7cm and are 4 to 12cm in diameter. Their distinct, vertical ribs are made of small, hunch-like tubercles. Soft, whitish or yellowish tufts of woolly hair sit on top of these tubercles.

Between the areoles are flowers that are white, pink or yellowish in color. These flowers open during the day and grow up to 2.5cm in diameter with a height ranging from 1 to 2.4cm.

What are the differences between the Lophophora williamsii and Lophophora decipiens?

the differences

the differences | Image powered by magicactus

What makes these two species so different from each other? Why has the L. decipiens been mistaken as a subspecies of the L. williamsii for such a long time?

It seems mescaline cactus growers will benefit more from the characteristics of the Lophophora decipiens compared to the Lophophora williamsii.

The L. decipiens variety grows larger plants sooner. This cactus species features larger bulbs. L. decipiens is larger and grows faster than the traditional peyote cactus in almost every aspect. Cactus flowers can be any one of three colors: white, pink, or magenta. These flowers are also more full-bodied and grow bigger. Because of their properties, they can grafted onto more aggressive cacti like the Trichocereus.

Aside from the bulbs and flowers, L. decipiens has an ashy grey color and lacks noticeable rib formations. Instead, it has diamond-shaped, conical tubercles which are spiral in form and are similar to the Strombocactus disciformis.

Cactus growers are encouraged to choose L. decipiens for two reasons. First is to increase availability of the species within the mescaline cactus-loving community. Second, this would provide more awareness on the effects of the plant when it comes to the insights and visions they produce.

When it comes to mescaline concentrations, the two species are roughly the same.

Lophophora decipiens location

Leon Croizat first wrote about the L. decipiens which grow in its natural habitat near Torreon and El Ampero in the Mexican state of Coahuila. It thrives on high elevations particularly high rocky peaks.

In its native area, L. decipiens is recognized for its important role in the religious sacraments of many Native American cultures in Central and North America.

Lophophora decipiens germination

decipiens germination

decipiens germination | Image powered by lophophora

  1. decipiens seeds can germinate without any problems and produce many offsets. The most important things to remember when propagating the Lophophora decipiens are seed fertility, moisture, temperature, soil mix, and light. All these factors will affect growth rate and potency of the L. decipiens.


  1. Fill seed trays with compost mix and flatten gently.
  1. Soak the compost with boiling water to get rid of parasites. Once fully soaked, drain the water and cool for an hour.
  1. Sprinkle the seeds all over the compost mix then gently press down using the back of a spoon.
  1. Cover the seed tray.
  1. Place the seed tray under grow lights but never under direct sunlight to prevent scorching the seedlings. Make sure the temperatures are between 80 and 110 degrees F during the day and are lower than 80 degrees F at night for the best results.
  1. Wait for 2 days to 2 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
  1. When the seedlings are approximately 4 to 6 months old, let the seeds get used to the room humidity by lifting the tray cover.
  1. For the first 6 months of life, the seedlings should never see direct sunlight. Introduction to sunlight should be done gradually. If the light levels are correct, the seeds will show a lush green color. When the outer skin is red, it’s a sign that the seeds are getting excessive light.
  1. Wait until the L. decipiens are fighting for room before repotting them. They should range in size from 1cm to 2cm.

Increasing alkaloid content for Lophophora decipiens

  1. decipiens has the same alkaloid/mescaline level as regular peyote. However, it can be stressed in some ways to increase alkaloid concentration before harvesting. Keep in mind that L. decipiens has a slow metabolism so it may take a long period of stress before mescaline levels can be affected.

Here are some of the most common methods used to increase mescaline levels:

  • Increasing sun and heat – Once the cacti have matured, too much sun will stress them out. Unfortunately, sunburn can be a real, fatal threat.
  • High nitrogen levels – Higher concentrations of nitrogen in plant nutrients draw out water and stress cacti. Use this with caution though because too much nitrogen can burn the plants. Try to slow down the cactus growth rate too. Faster growing cacti have lower mescaline levels per volume.
  • Withholding water – Water deprivation is the most widespread approach to increase cacti’s mescaline content. Many growers advocate letting cacti sit for the majority of the growing season without water until they are ready to harvest.

Order mescaline cacti online today.

4 Responses to “Lophophora Decipiens: The New Peyote Cactus”

  1. Scott 17th May 2019 at 19:20 #

    Where are your references or citations to prove this thesis? There is no mention in this post of a single authority that recognizes such a distinction. This information is simply not true until a valid argument is made.

    Backeberg considers it a variety (maybe not anymore) and Anderson asserts that the name itself is even a misnomer. The description provided in this post is nearly all superficial based on appearance and size which can and does vary widely even within L. williamsii.

    At this point Lophophora williamsii var. decipiens is the most accurate description. However, you will find taxonomists, collectors, and growers would even disagree with that distinction and theorize that it does not even deserve a variety classification. That said, it still may be worth study and research as the whole genus needs help in classification.

  2. Cactus Blob 14th May 2019 at 23:26 #

    Mesa garden is pretty much the authority on these species. http://www.mesagarden.com They are the worlds standard of seeds.

  3. Francesco Pavanello 11th January 2019 at 16:33 #

    sì ….anche se mi ha dato semi sterili pochè avevo una sola pianta di specie decipiens …. so che è rara ed in via di estinzione come pianta selvatica …è vero questo ?

  4. WoooW 5th January 2019 at 02:31 #

    Who has considered Peyote decipiens as a distinct species ?

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