Bolivian Torch: The Psychoactive Cactus Of The Four Winds

Bolivian torch is a rare underdog in the world of mescaline cacti. It's native to the high deserts of Bolivia and notoriously hard to find in the wild. Use this guide to dive deep into the story of the "Cactus of the Four Winds".

Bolivian torch belongs to an extensive family of mescaline-containing cacti. These plants have been used for thousands of years for spiritual purposes, and are still utilised for similar reasons today. The cactus occupies a high-altitude home in specific regions of South America. Even here, Bolivian torch can prove hard to find. For this reason, few have experienced the effects of the species.

Continue reading to learn more about this enigmatic cactus variety.

What Is Bolivian Torch: The Cactus Of The Four Winds

What Is Bolivian Torch: The Cactus Of The Four Winds

Bolivian torch, known by the Latin binomial name Echinopsis lageniformis, grows in the high deserts of Bolivia. Native cultures gave it the names "wachuma" and "achuma" alongside other mescaline-containing cacti, such as Echinopsis pachanoi.

Bolivian torch matches the description of a legendary, four-ribbed cactus rumoured to possess immense psychoactive powers—the "Cactus de los Cuatro Vientos". Translated, the title means "Cactus of the Four Winds".

Four-ribbed cacti were held in high esteem by South American shamans of old. The importance of the “four winds” was also manifest in certain elements of Inca culture. The Incas conquered a large portion of modern western Bolivia. The very name of their empire—Tawantinsuyu—translates into “The Four Regions”.

Numerous anthropologists, ethnobotanists, and historians of recent times have synthesised the long history of the legend into powerful summaries.

Italian historian Mario Polia reported that the so-called “San Pedro of Four Winds is very rare in nature and is a symbol of choice: It is believed that whoever finds it is a great shaman or destined to become one”.

Anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis also weighed in on the significance of the legendary cactus. He departed to South America in an attempt to find the cactus himself. Davis stated, “Here perhaps was the key to understanding… the source of the religious impulse that has swept the mountains 4,000 years before. The Cactus of the Four Winds, a plant so powerful that it could annihilate consciousness, transform body into spirit, crack open the sky".

Identifying Bolivian Torch

Identifying Bolivian Torch

Wild varieties grow within the Bolivian departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Tarija. These fast-growing columnar specimens can reach astonishing heights of 2–5m, with a typical diameter of 15–20cm. The stem is dull greyish-green (glaucous) in appearance but takes on a darker green shade with age.

These cacti feature a minimum of four ribs and a maximum of eight. However, specimens usually develop 5–7 ribs. Each rib houses honey-coloured to brown spines that emerge in clusters of up to four (there’s that number again!) from nodes spaced around 3cm apart. These sharp structures can grow anywhere between 6–10cm in length.

Bolivian torch develops large white flowers during the summer. These fragrant flowers bloom during the night and reach an impressive diameter of 20cm.

How To Grow Bolivian Torch

Bolivian torch can be grown at home with relative ease. You can start your cactus either from seed or cutting.

Growing From Seed

Growing From Seed

If you’re starting from seed, germinate the desired amount using a cactus potting mix—essentially a blend of sand, soil, and peat moss. Remember, cacti aren’t like regular plants. They evolved in the desert and appreciate an aerated growing medium with few nutrients.

Here’s how to grow Bolivian torch from seed:

  1. Grab some small, shallow pots and clean them thoroughly.

  2. Fill each pot with moistened cactus potting mix.

  3. Sow several seeds in each pot to maximise germination rate. Place them on the surface, around 3cm apart, and delicately press them into the potting mix.

  4. Cover each pot with a thin layer of perlite and mist with water. Cover each pot with a layer of plastic film to trap moisture.

  5. Try to maintain a temperature of 23°C, and expose your pots to 6–8 hours of sunlight each day.

  6. Only water your babies when their pots dry out. When they need a drink, fill a shallow tray with water and place the pots inside. Water them from the bottom for 20 minutes and then return them to their original spot.

  7. Your seed will germinate within one month. Thin the seedlings down to one per pot and slowly remove the plastic film over the course of a week to avoid shocking your cacti.

  8. Transplant your cacti into larger containers and move them into your garden. Start them off in light shade over the first summer and move them into an exposed area when autumn comes around.

Starting With A Cutting

Starting With A Cutting

Starting with a cutting allows growers to skip the germination phase.

Here’s how to start your Bolivian torch from a cutting:

  1. The base/wound of the cutting should be completely dry. If not, place it horizontally in a dry location until the moisture evaporates.

  2. Place your cutting vertically in a dry container and allow it to dry for another two weeks at a temperature of 20–25°C.

  3. After two weeks have passed, place your cutting vertically into a dry rooting medium such as perlite. Leave it in the dry mixture for 4–6 weeks. Do not water your cutting during this time!

  4. After four weeks, take out the cutting and check for roots. If there’s no sign of life, place it back into the rooting mix. If you see roots, it’s time to repot your cutting.

  5. Place the cutting into a clean pot filled with cactus potting mix. Water your cutting and transfer it to your garden or a well-lit windowsill.

How To Prepare Bolivian Torch

How To Prepare Bolivian Torch

You can consume Bolivian torch in several ways. You have the option of munching it raw, processing it into capsules, or making a tea.

Not ideal for fussy eaters, Bolivian torch is extremely bitter and near unpalatable. If you plan on eating your cactus, you’ll need to remove the skin and spines, leaving behind the mescaline-rich pulp.

Processing the cactus into a powder allows users to skip the bad taste. The dried powder can be added to tasty smoothies or loaded into capsules and swallowed.

Making a cactus brew provides another more-pleasant way to consume Bolivian torch. You’ll need to boil it for some time, pass it through a filter, and add some honey to combat the bitterness.

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How Much Bolivian Torch To Trip?

Dosing Bolivian torch—and mescaline cacti in general—remains an inexact science. Scientists haven't established exact doses, and cacti can contain varying levels of mescaline depending on certain factors, such as age.

For now, cactus lovers need to rely on anecdotal reports, rough figures, and personal experimentation.

What Are The Effects Of Bolivian Torch?

What Are The Effects Of Bolivian Torch?

As a powerful psychedelic, nobody should take mescaline lightly. Read about set and setting here to mentally and physically prepare for the experience.

Following consumption, you’ll start to feel the effects take hold. The alkaloids that give Bolivian torch its bitterness often cause sensations of physical discomfort to arise during this time. However, the feeling usually passes within 1–2 hours.

Eventually, a more intense effect begins to set in. The trip usually peaks at around 2–4 hours, and lasts a total of 8–12 hours. During this time, you’ll likely experience a contrasting mixture of pleasant and unpleasant sensations, including:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Feelings of connection to yourself, others, and the universe
  • Increased feelings of openness and empathy
  • Synaesthesia, or blending of the senses—you might hear colours and taste sounds
  • Ego death
  • Potential “bad trip”

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What To Do When You Have A Bad Trip

Bolivian Torch Vs Peruvian Torch

Bolivian Torch Vs Peruvian Torch

San Pedro, peyote, and Peruvian torch form the triad of famous mescaline-containing cacti. Bolivian torch and Peruvian torch share some striking similarities, but they’re also completely different species that feature unique traits.

       Bolivian Torch Profile      Peruvian Torch Profile
Botanical name      Echinopsis lageniformis     Echinopsis peruviana
Height
     2–5m      3–6m
Diameter     15–20cm      8–18cm
Colour      Dull, greyish-green stem      Blueish-green stem
Ribs      4–8      4–8
Spines      Honey-brown, 6–10cm in length      Honey-brown, 1–4cm in length
Flowers     Large, white, fragrant, night-blooming       Large, white
Average mescaline content     0.56% by dry weight      0.24% by dry weight
Native range     High deserts of Bolivia      Western slope of Andes, Peru

How To Order Bolivian Torch (Echinopsis Lageniformis)

How To Order Bolivian Torch (Echinopsis Lageniformis)

Bolivian torch belongs in the collection of any mescaline cactus enthusiast. This rare and elusive specimen will spice up your genetic archive, and it's a great topic of conversation for when your friends come over to check out your botanical collection.

For the psychonauts out there, you need to try Bolivian torch if you’re a fan of mescaline. Tick this rare experience off your checklist.

You can purchase Bolivian torch seeds and Bolivian torch "Monstrose" cuttings from the Zamnesia store. All of our products are sent in discreet packaging