Anadenanthera colubrina
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Clade: Mimosoid clade
Genus: Anadenanthera
A. colubrina
Binomial name
Anadenanthera colubrina
Range of Anadenanthera colubrina

Anadenanthera colubrina (also known as vilca, huilco, huilca, wilco, willka, curupay, curupau, cebil, or angico) is a South American tree closely related to yopo, or Anadenanthera peregrina. It grows to 5–20 m (16–66 ft) tall and the trunk is very thorny.[1] The leaves are mimosa-like, up to 30 cm (12 in) in length and they fold up at night.[2] In Argentina, A. colubrina produces flowers from September to December and bean pods from September to July.[3] In Brazil A. colubrina has been given "high priority" conservation status.[1]


Anadenanthera colubrina is known by many names throughout South America. In Peru it is known as willka (also spelled wilca, vilca and huilca) which in the Quechua languages means "sacred".


A. colubrina is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Cuba, and Mauritius.[4]

Natural growing conditions

Anadenanthera colubrina flowers

A. colubrina grows at altitudes of about 315–2,200 m (1,033–7,218 ft) with roughly 25–60 cm (9.8–23.6 in) per year of precipitation and a mean temperature of 21 °C (70 °F). It tends to grow on rocky hillsides in well-drained soil, often in the vicinity of rivers. It grows quickly at 1–1.5 m (3 ft 3 in – 4 ft 11 in) per year in good conditions.[5] The growing areas are often "savannah to dry rainforest." Flowering can begin in as soon as two years after germination.[6]

General uses

Anadenanthera colubrina


A sweetened drink is made from the bark.[1]


Gum from the tree can be used in the same way as gum arabic.[7]


A. colubrina's tannin is used in industry to process animal hides.[1]


The beans of A. colubrina are used to make a snuff called vilca (sometimes called cebil). The bean pods are roasted to facilitate removal of the husk, followed by grinding with a mortar and pestle into a powder and mixed with a natural form of calcium hydroxide (lime) or calcium oxide. The main active constituent of vilca is bufotenin; to a much lesser degree DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are also present.[citation needed] A. colubrina has been found to contain up to 12.4% bufotenin.[8]

It is also believed that the ground beans were used as a snuff by the Tiwanaku.[9] There have been reports of active use of vilca by Wichi shamans, under the name hatáj.[10]

Between 2013 and 2017, archaeological excavations at the Quilcapampa site in southern Peru, found that the Wari used seeds from the vilca tree and combined the hallucinogenic drug with chicha, or beer made from the molle tree.[11]

Traditional medicine

Anadenanthera colubrina foliage and flowers.
Anadenanthera colubrina leaves and bark at Iguazu Falls.

The tree's bark is the most common part used medicinally.[1] Gum from the tree is used medicinally to treat upper respiratory tract infections, as an expectorant and otherwise for cough.[12]

Archaeological evidence shows Anadenanthera colubrina beans have been used as hallucinogens for thousands of years. The oldest clear evidence of use comes from pipes made of puma bone (Felis concolor) found with A. colubrina beans at Inca Cueva, a site in the Humahuaca gorge at the edge of the Puna of Jujuy Province, Argentina. The pipes were found to contain the hallucinogen DMT, one of the compounds found in Anadenanthera beans. Radiocarbon testing of the material gave a date of 2130 BC, suggesting that Anadenanthera use as a hallucinogen is over 4,000 years old. Snuff trays and tubes were found in the central Peruvian coast dating back to 1200 BC. Archaeological evidence of insufflation use within the period 500-1000 AD, in northern Chile, has been reported.


Anadenanthera colubrina trunk

In northeastern Brazil, the tree is primarily used as timber and for making wooden implements. "It is used in construction and for making door and window frames, barrels, mooring masts, hedges, platforms, floors, agricultural implements and railway sleepers."[5] The wood is also reportedly a preferred source of cooking fuel, since it makes a hot and long-lasting fire. It is widely used there in the making of fences, since termites seem not to like it. At one time, it was used in the construction of houses, but people are finding it more difficult to find suitable trees for that purpose.[1]

Chemical compounds

Chemical compounds contained in A. colubrina include:

The bark and leaves contain tannin and the beans contain saponin.[12]

Botanical varieties

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f Monteiro JM, de Almeida Cde F, de Albuquerque UP, de Lucena RF, Florentino AT, de Oliveira RL (2006). "Use and traditional management of Anadenanthera colubrina (Vell.) Brenan in the semi-arid region of northeastern Brazil". J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2: 6. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-6. PMC 1382198. PMID 16420708.
  2. ^ Diccionarios Botánicos Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Angelo Z, Dante and Capriles, José M. La Importancia de las Plantas Psicotrópicas para la Economía de Intercambio y Relaciones de Interacción en el Altiplano sur Andino. Chungará (Arica). Volumen Especial, 2004. Pages 1023-1035. Chungara, Revista de Antropología Chilena. ISSN 0717-7356.
  4. ^ ILDIS LegumeWeb
  5. ^ a b Desiccation and storage of Anadenanthera colubrina beans. Archived July 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI). Edilberto Rojas Espinoza.
  6. ^ Anadenanthera spp. Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Constantino Manuel Torres; David B. Repke (2006). Anadenanthera: Visionary Plant of Ancient South America. Psychology Press. p. 98. ISBN 9780789026422.
  8. ^ Ott J (2001). "Pharmañopo-psychonautics: human intranasal, sublingual, intrarectal, pulmonary and oral pharmacology of bufotenine". J Psychoactive Drugs. 33 (3): 273–81. doi:10.1080/02791072.2001.10400574. PMID 11718320. S2CID 5877023.
  9. ^ Hallucinogens Found in Mummy Hair
  10. ^ Ott, Jonathan (2001). Shamanic Snuffs or Enthogenic Errhines. EthnoBotanica. p. 90. ISBN 1-888755-02-4.
  11. ^ Biwer, Matthew E.; Álvarez, Willy Yépez; Bautista, Stefanie L.; Jennings, Justin (February 2022). "Hallucinogens, alcohol and shifting leadership strategies in the ancient Peruvian Andes". Antiquity. 96 (385): 142–158. doi:10.15184/aqy.2021.177. S2CID 246999684.
  12. ^ a b Plantamed (Portuguese)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Dr. Duke's Archived February 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  14. ^ a b c UNO[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Medicina traditional Ergebnisse einethnomedizinischen ...(German) Archived February 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Peter Stafford; Jeremy Bigwood (1993). Psychedelics Encyclopedia. Ronin Publishing. pp. 420 pages. ISBN 0-914171-51-8.

Further reading