Anadenanthera colubrina

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Anadenanthera colubrina
Anadenanthera colubrina tree.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Anadenanthera
Species: A. colubrina
Binomial name
Anadenanthera colubrina
(Vell.) Brenan
Range of Anadenanthera colubrina

Anadenanthera colubrina (also known as vilca, huilco, huilca, wilco, willka, cebil, or angico) is a South American tree closely related to Yopo, or Anadenanthera peregrina. It grows from 5 m to 20 m tall and the trunk is very thorny.[1] The leaves are mimosa-like, up to 30 cm in length and they fold up at night.[2] In Chile, 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 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 315-2200 m with roughly 250-600 mm/year (10-24 in/yr) of precipitation and a mean temperature of 21 °C. 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/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]

Traditional medicine

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.[8]


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.[8]

Entheogenic uses

File:Anadenanthera colubrina.jpg
Anadenanthera colubrina foliage and flowers.
Anadenanthera colubrina leaves and bark at Iguazu Falls.

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.[13]

To make the psychedelic snuff called Vilca (sometimes called cebil), the black beans from the bean pods of these trees are first toasted until the beans pop like popcorn breaking the bean's husk. The roasting process facilitates removal of the husk and makes the beans easier to grind into a powder. The bean's husk is usually removed because it is difficult to powderise. The bean is then ground with a mortar and pestle into a powder and mixed with a natural form of calcium hydroxide (lime) or calcium oxide (from certain types of ashes, calcined shells, etc.). This mix is then moistened to a consistency similar to bread dough, using a small amount of water. If calcium oxide is used, the water will react with it to form calcium hydroxide. Once moistened, it is kneaded into a ball for several minutes so that all the bufotenin comes into contact with the calcium hydroxide and forms the free-base. After kneading, it is then left to sit for several hours to several days, depending on the local customs. During this period most of the excess calcium hydroxide reacts with the carbon dioxide in the air to form calcium carbonate. Calcium hydroxide is caustic in the presence of water, and is very irritating to the nasal passages, so it is desirable to allow any left over calcium hydroxide to convert to calcium carbonate. It is then thoroughly dried and ready for use. The more modern non-traditional use of baking soda or ammonia as a substitute for calcium hydroxide has been used with limited success. A nearly identical snuff called Yopo, can be prepared from the related Anadenanthera peregrina.

As bufotenin is quickly metabolized, the effects of the drug are short-acting. Usage and preparation of vilca is almost identical to that of yopo. Even as recently as 1996 there have been reports of active use of Vilca by Wichi shamans, under the name hatáj.[14] It is also believed that the beans were consumed orally by the Incas.[15]

Botanical varieties



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. Diccionarios Botánicos
  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. 5.0 5.1 Desiccation and storage of Anadenanthera colubrina beans. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI). Edilberto Rojas Espinoza.
  6. Anadenanthera spp.
  7. Constantino Manuel Torres, David B. Repke. Anadenanthera: Visionary Plant of Ancient South America. p. 98.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Plantamed (Portuguese)
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 UNO
  11. Medicina traditional Ergebnisse einethnomedizinischen ...(German)
  12. Peter Stafford , Jeremy Bigwood (1993). Psychedelics Encyclopedia. Ronin Publishing. pp. 420 pages. ISBN 0-914171-51-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  14. Ott, Jonathan (2001). Shamanic Snuffs or Enthogenic Errhines. EthnoBotanica. p. 90. ISBN 1-888755-02-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Hallucinogens Found in Mummy Hair

General references

  • Rätsch, Christian; Schultes, Richard Evans; Hofmann, Albert (2001). Plants of the gods: their sacred, healing, and hallucinogenic powers. Rochester, Vt: Healing Arts Press. ISBN 0-89281-979-0. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

External links