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Classifying the Species of Lophophora: Unveiling the Diversity of Peyote Plants

Lophophora, commonly known as peyote, is a genus of spineless cacti that has captivated scientific attention for decades. With its rich cultural and spiritual significance, Lophophora species have become the subject of extensive research. In this blog, we will delve into the classification of Lophophora species, including Lophophora williamsii, Lophophora diffusa, Lophophora fricii and Lophophora jourdaniana, shedding light on their distribution, characteristics, and cultural significance.

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The Genus Lophophora and its Cultural Significance

The genus Lophophora belongs to the cactus family and is primarily found in northern Mexico and southern Texas. The Nahuatl word "peyote" is used to refer to these remarkable plants. Lophophora species have been an integral part of Native American religious ceremonies, particularly in the Native American Church and the Huichol culture, for centuries. The spiritual and ceremonial use of peyote has deep roots in indigenous traditions.

Lophophora Williamsii

Lophophora Williamsii: The Iconic Peyote Species

Lophophora williamsii, commonly referred to as peyote, is the most well-known and widely studied species in the Lophophora genus. It is a small cactus with button-like structures known as "peyote buttons." Peyote has been used by indigenous communities for its spiritual and medicinal properties. The psychoactive compound mescaline, found in peyote, has attracted the attention of researchers studying its effects on the human mind, and it is also recognized as a controlled substance in many parts of the world.

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Classifying Lophophora Species: Identification and Research

Differentiating between Lophophora species can be challenging due to variations within populations and overlapping morphological characteristics. Researchers have employed various methods, such as DNA analysis and examination of key traits like flower color, spine length, and rib count, to aid in species classification. Collecting specimens from various regions and comparing them using these techniques has provided valuable insights into the diversity and distribution of Lophophora species.

Lophophora Williamsii Flower
Lophophora williamsii flower

What are the different types of Lophophora?

Research suggests that there are 5 main lines of Lophophora, including: Williamsii, Diffusa, Fricii, Jourdaniana and Koehresii. However there are more types of Lophophora such as: Decipiens and Alberto-vojtechii.

What are the sub species of Lophophora williamsii?

Research suggests that their are many sub-species of Lophophora Williamsii such as: Caespitosa, Calabacillal, Camargo, Cardona, Catorce, Cedral, Cruses, Cuatrocienegas, Dr.Arroyo, Durango, El Amparo, Elena, General cepeda, Grandiflora, Grau-blau, Hipolito, Huasteca canyon, Huizache, Hundido, Icamole, Jabli, Km131, La casita, La cuchilla, La paloma, La Perdida, La popa, Langtry, Las coloradas, Leon, Loma de verde, Los tecolotes, Marte, Matamoros, Matehuala, Mazapil, Menchaca, Mex 54 km 131, Mex 54 km 195, Milagro de guadelupe, Minas, Miranda city salvador, Moctezuma, Monclova, Ne Jesus, Nuevo Yucatan, Ocampo, Oso, Paila, Parras, Potrero menchaca, Presa azucar, Puerto sigala, Ramos arizpe, Rancho grito, Refugio, Retiro, Reynosa, Rinconada, Sabana ggrande, Saltillo-monclova, San antonio, San ignacio texas, San jose de carranza, San pablo, San pedro, San roberto, San tiburcio, Sandia el grande, Santha theresae, Santo domingo, Shafter, siele zacate, Sierra deliecias, Sierra san marcos, Sierra santa rosa, Siete enero, Tecolote, Texana, Vanegas, Villa arista, Villa garcia, Weisse bluete.


Lophophora Diffusa and Its Variations

Lophophora diffusa, commonly known as false peyote, is one of the recognized species within the Lophophora genus. It is found in the southernmost regions, specifically in the Querétaro desert and Xerophytic shrubland of Mexico.

While Lophophora diffusa shares some similarities with Lophophora williamsii, there are noticeable differences in their appearance. Diffusa has broad and wavy ribs, usually around 21 in number, while Williamsii typically has fewer ribs, around 13, which appear straighter. Additionally, the stem of Lophophora diffusa is softer and more malleable to the touch.

The Lophophora diffusa var stem exhibits a vivid lime-green color, and its flowers are faint pink-white, sometimes appearing yellowish-white. In contrast, Lophophora williamsii is typically a muted bluish-green, and its flowers are pale pink or white, depending on the species. Furthermore, the flowers of Lophophora diffusa var are said to be larger than those of Lophophora williamsii.

One essential distinction is that Lophophora diffusa is self-sterile, meaning it requires cross-pollination to produce fruits. On the other hand, Lophophora williamsii is mostly self-fertile, as it can self-pollinate and produce fruit without external assistance.


Lophophora Fricii and Lophophora Jourdaniana: Unveiling the Lesser-Known

Lophophora fricii and Lophophora jourdaniana are two species that have received less scientific attention compared to Lophophora diffusa and Lophophora williamsii.

The ribs and furrows of Fricii are less defined and rarely elevated. Instead, they are broad and flat in shape, almost appearing squished or compressed as the number of tubercles increase overtime, resulting in a higher density across the plant's surface. These tubercles also undergo a size transformation, becoming much larger overall compared to younger plants. This growth and expansion of tubercles contribute to the distinctive appearance of Lophophora fricii, setting it apart from other species within the Lophophora genus. Both species have a specific distribution within certain regions of Mexico, and its occurrence is limited to those areas.

One of the most prominent distinguishing features of Lophophora fricii is its flower colour. When it comes to identifying Lophophora fricii, the flower color serves as a significant indicator. Unlike other species within the Lophophora genus, Lophophora fricii stands out with its striking dark pink flowers, although can be light pink or rarely pinkish white!

Lophophora jourdaniana, on the other hand, is known for its larger size and can grow to be relatively bigger in diameter and overall volume. The flowers of Lophophora jourdaniana can range in color, from rose violet to dark pink perianth, pistil and filaments. All species of Lophophora can cross-pollinate except Lophophora Jourdaniana, which has been said to only cross-pollinate with another Jourdaniana.

Lophophora koehresii:

The DNA of Lophophora koehresii is suggested to be much closer to Diffusa than it is to Williamsii and primarily found on the outskirts of Queretaro, Mexico. It is the second smallest of the Lophophora genus.

The appearance of Lophophora koehresii can be quite vibrant. The ribs are more pronounced and prominent compared to Lophophora williamsii and the flower petals are distinctively thinner, pale-pink in colour and darkened down the center fold, giving the appearance of a great pentadecagram star. These characteristics create an eye-catching contrast and desirable Lophophora specie with the most beautiful flowers.


How do you identify Lophophora?

To identify Lophophora, look for the following characteristics:

  1. Appearance: Lophophora plants are round globular and spineless, with a green or bluish-green color.

  2. Ribs: These cacti have several pronounced ribs running down their sides.

  3. Areoles: On each rib, you'll find small, woolly bumps called areoles. In aged plants, there is typically a distinct cluster of woolly hairs in the centre.

  4. Taproot: Lophophora cacti have a prominent, elongated taproot. This main root extends deep into the ground and aids the plant in anchoring itself and absorbing water from deeper soil layers.

  5. Flowers: During the blooming season, Lophophora produces small, white or pink flowers that emerge near the top of the plant.


If you've been captivated by the allure of peyote or have a desire to add these extraordinary desert plants to your collection, I encourage you to check out Desert Plants Ltd. Our website offers a wide selection of cacti, including Lophophora species, and provides valuable information on cultivation and care.

Remember, peyote is a sacred plant with cultural significance, so it's essential to approach its cultivation and use with respect and responsibility. Whether you are a seasoned cactus enthusiast or a curious beginner, Desert Plants Ltd can guide you in acquiring and caring for these remarkable plants responsibly.

Take your time to explore the world of desert plants, and immerse yourself in the wonders of these resilient and captivating species. By cultivating and nurturing these unique plants, you not only embrace the beauty of nature but also contribute to the conservation and preservation of these precious desert treasures.

So, if you're looking to buy peyote or other desert plants, head over to Desert Plants Ltd's website to begin your desert collectors journey. Remember to tread carefully, admire nature's gifts, and appreciate the wonders of the desert realm. Happy Loph collecting!

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Respect Nature and Native American culture

'Never take Peyote from the wild'

Lophophora Questions

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Can you grow Lophophora williamsii?

How long do Lophophora flowers last?

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