Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a species of cactus that contains the psychedelic chemical mescaline. It has a distinctively small, green, and globular appearance, growing close to the ground without any spines. These “crowns” or “buttons” are traditionally cut from the root of the peyote plant and dried for ceremonial use.
Native to Mexico and the Southwestern US, peyote has long been a focus of Native American and pre-Colombian ceremonial traditions. Its name derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec) term peyotl and it remains legal for ceremonial use in the US under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Today, it’s also used in other contexts elsewhere, including in meditation and psychotherapy. It also holds the reputation of being the first psychedelic to come to mainstream Western attention—for better or worse. Due to overharvesting and peyote’s slow-growing nature, the cactus is now an endangered species