Hallucinogenic Plants

Use Cmd/Ctrl+F to search Hallucinogenic Plants.
Working links are Red, other references, use Navigation Panel choices.
Names in bold will be found in Players; bolded Titles in References.

Hallucinogenic Plants

This is a fairly complete list of the Hallucinogenic Plants
important to our ancestors in the Old West. – Doc

The use of powerful natural hallucinogenic drugs (entheogens*) is common throughout the world in rite-of-passage; various “purification”/vision quest ceremonies; to work magic and, more in modern times, for recreation. Some, such as marijuana and opium, (both imports to the West)  turn out to be very useful medications as well. The actual extent of the use of these plants and the drugs extracted from them, among various Native American tribes, is not completely known. Usage, no doubt, varied from tribe to tribe, relative to culture, religion, historical knowledge and availability of the plants/extracts, etc. It is probable that all of the known endemic plants were available, at one time or another, along the extensive trade routes extending throughout the continents. It would seem unlikely that any Medicine Man, worth the name, would not know all such that were available to him and how they were to be used. Even so, not all were used everywhere, anywhere, or at a given time. Note the migration from the south, and the changing focus of the Peyote** ritual. The magic mushrooms of Mexico, were surely in some north bound peddlers pack, even though several related panaeolus species were known in the north. Several other South American plants listed below may have also occasionally appeared in the trade. The Chinese certainly brought opium*** but the white man already had laudanum**** and it was he who brought marijuana***** (cannabis), another product of Asia.  {001}
*entheogen (“generating the divine within”)
A psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context, as opposed to recreational uses.
see also:
References – DictionaryShaman & Shamanism
**Peyote – below
***Opium – below
****The Originals Index – Resources & Hazards – Medicinal PlantsOpium Poppy/laudanum)
*****Marijuana – below

Ayahuasca – aka: “liana of the soul”, “liana of the dead”, or “spirit liana”. This is an entheogenic brew concocted from the liana vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, and other plants. One of which is the shrub, Psychotria viridis, often included, as it contains a primary psychoactive, DMT (dimethyltryptamine).
Known by many different names, the brew is a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.
A bundle containing various well-preserved shamanic substances, including ayahuasca residue, was found (2010) in a cave in southwestern Bolivia. The items date to at least 1000 C.E. However, it is very likely that use of the brew is much older.
OWDR has not seen any mention of this drug combination, used in North America, by Native Americans, in the Old West.
While it could have been available over the same trade routes that brought South American food plants and other entheogens north, this one seems complicated by too many factors to have been of much interest to the traders. Since this is a combination of variable ingredients, none of which were available or known in the north, the odds of the knowledge to understand preparation and use being translatable through the trade routes seems unlikely. Always possible on a few rare occasions, you never know… Mentioned here, largely because of the current interest and use of the drug in the U.S. Photo: U.S PD by Terpsichore – ayahuasca.  {001}


Ethanol – aka: alcohol, ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, and drinking alcohol. The alcohol found in alcoholic drinks, it is a psychoactive substance but it is not normally viewed as an entheogen. It is usually only used as a recreational drug.
A simple alcohol with the chemical formula C2H5OH, volatile, flammable, a colorless liquid with a slight characteristic odor. Ethanol is, of course, not a plant, but for the purpose of human ingestion, it is usually naturally produced by the fermentation of the sugars in plants (fruits or grains) by yeasts.  It can be fatally toxic to humans, in a number of ways, when used in excess.  {001}
see also:
The Originals Index – Entertainment in the Old West – Alcohol in the Old West


Jimson Weed Datura stramonium - Hallucinogenic PlantsJimson Weed (Datura stramonium) Active ingredients: hyoscyamine, scopolamine and other tropane alkaloids. Native to North America [now worldwide] , The plant was commonly available for collection. Certainly not used by the average people of any known tribe, but it may well have been an item of “trade” to healers as medication and for medicine men as a “path” to visions. All parts of the plant are used in various ways, the seeds being particularly “active”. This may well have been the “wysoccan” (no doubt, including some other ingredients) given by the Algonquin to young men just prior to undergoing the initiation rituals to manhood. Said to have caused temporary insanity and a forgetting of one’s childhood so that the young adult would begin with only new memories. Southwest Natives performed divination; prophecy and, ritualistic cures with the aid of Datura family plants. Photo: U.S. PD 2005, Tabor  {001}
also at:
The Originals – Resources & Hazards – Plants – Hazardous PlantsJimson WeedOld West Daily Reader Subscribe Today

[Back to top]