Where in the world is L.Williamsii ?

Image of Chihuahuan Desert from Corey Leopold on flickr

What is Peyote's Natural Habitat?

Lophophora williamsii  is seen most commonly in the southern portion of North America. It inhabits an area ranging from the Rio Grande area of Texas and expands south into Mexico as far as San Luis Potosi. It is particularly concentrated in the Chihuahuan Desert Region of the U.S. Mexico border. This desert is the second largest in North America with an area of 139,769 square miles. Other organisms that live in this region include prickly pear cactus, horned lizards, and coyote.

One interesting thing about this habitat is the huge difference in elevation from north to south. For example, the Rio Grande region sits at approximately 150 feet. On the other hand, you have the southern area around San Luis where the elevation can be as high as 6000 feet!

Peyote can also be found occupying a variety of different niches. It can be found growing under the shade of certain shrubs. To get more specifics, please view the interactions page. However, it is also found growing in open areas with no protection from the sun of any kind. During the rainy season, it has even been found flourishing in  silt mud flats. And to top it all off, it had even been seen on steep limestone cliffs sprouting from the crevices.

 Image of Chihuauan desert from wiki commons

Where else can Peyote be found?   

Because Peyote is not readily obtainable in some areas, or is otherwise hard to find people have started large commercial peyote gardens.  Peyote is one of the slowest growing cacti, however through controlled cultivation it has been know to mature in 3-5 years. In addition, many growers will graft their cacti to further speed up this process. For more information on how to properly graft a cactus, you can visit Kada's Garden.

When cultivated properly, the root top will develop a callus, and new buttons will eventually grow from the present roots. In order to ensure this, the cut must be made at an angle or the root is likely to rot. This is important because if the root is damaged the entire plant will die. Failure to practice appropriate harvesting techniques has led to a shortage in new growth. People do not realize this, and they unnecessarily  take the entire root thinking it contains something useful. This is the case in South Texas where the peyote plant grown naturally. In some areas, peyote has been over-harvested to the point where it has become an endangered species. Again, this is another reason people began turning to producing peyote using large scale commercial operations. Currently there are 11 registered peyoteros working in the southern part of Texas alone. It is not uncommon for these harvesters to sell over 200,000 peyote buttons within a year’s span. With the demand and the price for peyote buttons increasing, these farmers find themselves making a substantial profit.  The lands on which this peyote is grown are 90% privately owned lands and are usually heavily gated, and closed of to the public. There are some rules and regulations for those owning these peyote gardens. Peyoteros must be licensed by both Department of Public Safety (for their state) and the Drug Enforcement Administration. They must also pay a $400 annual fee to the DEA. In addition, detailed records on what they harvest and sell are mandatory.

Image of peyote seedlings in cultivation with permission from Kada's Garden

Now that you know all about the habitats peyote can be found in, visit the adaptations page to understand why it can survive in these environments, or continue to the nutrition page.

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