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Lower Ranks

Morphology & Characteristics

Distribution & Conservation

Cultivation Information

Propagation Information

Ethnobotanical Uses

Biology & Chemistry


Experimental & Notes


References & Related Pages

General Information

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Psychotria viridis

Chacruna Information Page

Classification - Back to Top

  • Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)

    • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta Vascular plants)

      • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (Seed Plants)

        • Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering Plants)

          • Class: Spermatopsida

            • Subclass: Asteridae

              • Order: Gentianales

                • Family: Rubiaceae

                  • Subfamily: Rubioideae

                    • Tribe: Psychotrieae

                      • Genus: Psychotria

                        • Species: Psychotria viridis Ruiz & Pav.

Infraspecific Names










Species Authority:

Synonym(s): Palicourea viridis (Ruiz & Pav.) Schult., Psychotria glomerata Kunth, Psychotria microdesmia Oerst., Psychotria trispicata Griseb., Uragoga glomerata (Kunth) Kuntze, Uragoga microdesmia (Oerst.) Kuntze, Uragoga trispicata (Griseb.) Kuntze, Uragoga viridis (Ruiz & Pav.) Kuntze

Common Name(s): Chacruna

First Published:

Publication of Current Ranking:

Lower Ranks - Back to Top

Morphology & Characteristics - Back to Top

Botanical Description

Psychotria viridis R. & P. Fl. 2: 61. pl. 210, f. b. 1799. P. glomerata HBK. Nov. Gen. & Sp. 3: 362. 1820. Palicourea viridis R. & S. Syst. Veg. 5: 195. 1819.

A shrub or small tree, 4.5 meters high or less, glabrous or nearly so; stipules large, thin, acuminate, ferruginous, caducous; leaves darkening when dried, thin, short petiolate, obovate or obovate-attenuate to the base; inflorescence pedunculate, spicate-paniculate, open, many-flowered, the minute flowers sessile in distant glomerules; corolla greenish white; fruit red, 4-5mm. long. Neg. 482.

Huanuco: Described from Chinchao and Macora, Ruiz & Pavon.-Junin: Colonia Perene, 600 meters, in forest, Killip & Smith 25150. Puerto Bermudez, 375 meters, Killip & Smith 26641.-Loreto: San Ramon, in forest, Williams 4567. Fortaleza, yurimaguas, Williams 4276. Paraiso, Williams 3363. Balsapuerto, Killip & Smith 28383. Santa Rosa, Williams 4836. PuertoArturo, 135 meters, Killip & Smith 28264.-San Martin: Tarapoto, Williams 6699, 6030; Ule 6614. Casapi, Fielding 1949. Zepelacio, 1,200 meters, in forest, Klug 3377. Rumizapa, Williams 6812. Rio Mayo, Williams 6278, 6228, 6203. Bolivia to Central America and Cuba: Amazonian Brazil.

"Paufil chaqui." The original locality of P. glomerata was given doubtfully as Peru, but it is more probable that the type came from Colombia. [2]

Key Features

Growth Habit

The Leaf

The Stem

The Flower



Style & Stigma:

Filament & Anther:


The Fruit

The Seed

The Root

Psychotria viridis Identification

Psychotria viridis, at least in the world of nursery and ayahusaca users, is often poorly identified and often not actually truly P. viridis. THe most common plants sold as Psychotria viridis, that are not actually P. viridis, are Psychotria alba and Psychotria carthagenensis. They do look somwhat similar and they are all used commonly amongst ayahuasca users with desired results. So thus the confusion spreads. There ar hoeever some very easy-to-tell-apart features that should clear much confusion with regard to telling the difference between *these 3 species*.

One should also realize this is a very massive genus of plants, and these characterisitics are perhaps only useful in respect to the 3 species mentioned here, it is not meant as an identification key for a broader index of plants.

* P. viridis infloresence is rather small and not often large than the upper most leaves on the same stem. The stem will stretch relatively long and have small clumps of usually green coloured flowers. P. alba/P. carthagenensis have large inflorescence of white coloured flowers. They form more of a bunch than a "runner" (in appearance).

* P. viridis petiole tend to go right to the base of the leaf whereas P. alba and P. carthagenensis tend to stop short and the leaf base has a what more or less resembles a small stem.

We suggest also taking a look at our page that contains a side by side photo comparison of Psychotria alba, Psychotria carthagenensis and Psychotria viridis. The page can be found on the Ethnobotanical Identification page or directly at Psychotria photo identification Guide.

Psychotria viridis .

Similar appearing species

Distribution & Conservation - Back to Top

Native Distribution

Cultivated Distribution

Introduced Distribution

Habitat & Climate


Cultivation Information - Back to Top

Size and Habit

Light Preferences

Temperature Preferences

Soil Preferences

Water & Humidity

Nutritional Requirements



Commercial Scale

Pests & Disease

Acclimatizing New Plants

When you buy new plants, especially from other areas that have different environmental conditions, it is important to adjust the environment slowly for the plant to avoid excessive stress. Things like a wild swing in temperature, water, humidity and light are especially risky to plants changing locations.

Psychotria viridis is a shade loving tropical plant that does quite well under the cover of larger trees. It likes temperatures above 20C at all times (it can survive much lower but does not prefer it) and have a fairly rich soil with high humidity. When plants are shipped, especially internationally, all soil would be removed from the roots and the plant will most likely arrive with leaves trimmed, roots cleaned and wrapped in something, such as sphagnum moss, to keep it moist and intact during transit. Plants bought nearby in pots more than likely can just be introduced to a shady spot of the yard and gradually moved around.

Plants should be potted up in a loose soil mixture that allows good air spaces. Coco coir and peat are good when mixed with a soil a little more rich in a roughly 50/50 ratio. With new plants, it is important not to add much compost that isnít fully finished. adding a lot of fungal activity to the pot with dead organic debris can cause root problems with stressed plants, especially in cases of over watering. A mix of 20% soil from the ground which is a clay based soil (hard), 70% coco powder (powdered coco coir) and 10% pumice or perlite. Coarse washed sand would also work, though not as well. Plant the plant into this mix after already being moistened and drained of excessive water, hand squeezing works well.

It is important to keep the soil moist, but not soggy and do not allow it to dry out when this new. Place the plant into a humidity chamber, or place a homemade one over the pot. 2L clear plastic bottles work well for small plants. Cut the bottom of the bottle off and remove any labels. After washing and removing the lid, place the bottle over the pot. it is best to remove once daily to provide fresh air to the plant as stagnant air will promote fungal contaminants which lead to rot. Temperatures should be maintained in the 20-30C range if possible, but they will slowly do ok over 10C, though with a lower rate of success.

Acclimation times will vary according to climate, but allow 3-4 weeks at least to make sure. Very dry climates may have trouble growing Psychotria viridis well, but they will grow if lots of water is splashed on them or they are grown with shady and ground cover companion plants.

Propagation Information - Back to Top

Growing From Seed

Stem, Root and/or Leaf Cuttings

Psychotira viridis is one of few species of plants that are able to successfully be propagated via leaf cutting. Leaves are broken from the stem and placed in water near a low-medium light source. Plants will grow from the veins of the leaf, and many people will crack the midvein on the leaf to promote more roots and plantlets to form. Keep cuttings above 20C and out of direct sunlight for faster results. Leaf cuttings often take 6-12 weeks before plants can be planted into soil on their own.

Stem cuttings with Psychotria viridis are also very easy and have the added benefit of starting to grow right away, making them far faster than leaf cuttings. Procedure is the same, although stem cuttings do better in soil from the start than do leaf cuttings. Both can be struck in water or in soil, in many different fashions of cutting techniques. Stem cuttings take 3-8 weeks to be able to be potted into soil.

Root cuttings appear more difficult unless the root is quite old and thick, almost stem like. Plants will send out stems underground.

Psychotria viridis is a very easily propagated plant from both leaf and stem cuttings. In both cases, simple sitting in clean water will root the plants very consistently, as will other propagation methods in soil and hydroponic type setups. The problems that may occur are:

* Sunburn from exposure to high intensity light. - Never in direct sunlight, under a fluorescent light is plenty.

* Browning of the leaves often caused by low humidity. - Raise humidity.

* Algae growing in the water causing root rot/damage/poor growth. - Remove nutrition source from water, keep rooting area dark.


Grafting Psychotria viridis can be done, although is not done so due to its limited use and lack of commercial interest. It would be interesting to study the growth habits when grafted onto other closely related species of more hardy nature. Temperature hardiness would be an especially interesting study.


Ethnobotanical Uses - Back to Top

As Food

Psychotria viridis is not considered edible to humans.

Commercialized Crops

Psychotria viridis has not yet, and likely never will be, "domesticated". There is little selectivity among the few that grow it for use in ayahuasca. There are a couple hybrids around, which about sums up the attention to Psychotria viridis that any industry has paid. About the only commercial aspect of the plant is growers/distributors selling the dried material for people to use who do not grow it themself. Most commercial Psychotria viridis comes from Brazil, Hawaii, Peru and a number of smaller exporting regions.

Biology & Chemistry - Back to Top

The Chemistry of


Plant Part




Ecology - Back to Top

Companion Plants in Cultivation

Experimental & Notes - Back to Top

Photos - Back to Top

 Underside of Psychotria viridis leaf
Psychotria viridis leaf domatia.
 Psychotria viridis plant
Psychotria viridis stipule
 Psychotria viridis
Psychotria viridis plants
 Psychotria viridis
Psychotria viridis node
 Psychotria viridis
Psychotria viridis stipule
 Psychotria viridis
Psychotria viridis apical meristem

References & Related Pages - Back to Top

Related Pages hosted on Kada's Garden

Psychotria viridis

Psychotria viridis Photo Gallery


[1]Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs : Assembled by Keeper of the Trout

[2] Flora of Peru. J. F. By Macbride (1936). 13 (6/1)