Monday, June 04, 2007

Chacrona III and ayahuasca

In earlier posts, I presented some images and text about the chacrona plant (Psicotria viridis) and the mariri vine, (Bannister caapi). These are the combined ingredients of the famous ayahuasca tea, a hallucinogenic used by indigenous groups of the Amazon. I also showed plants and vines at the UDV Center on the outskirts of Santarém, where a new breed of non-indigenous folks have incorporated "the tea" into their religious ceremonies. I also have these plants at Bosque Santa Lúcia, thanks to a donation on the part of a tea-drinking member of another group located in Alter do Chão. The chacrona plant was given to me in January of 2005, and the Bannister vine more recently. I kept the chacrona plant in a vase for a few months and then moved it to the ground about a year ago. It's about 1.5m high and now producing fruit, the first of which you see in the attached image. Seeds from one of the fruit can be seen just below the fruit. Two seeds to a berry. The leaf of the plant is in the background. I discovered that chacrona likes lots water this past dry season. Many other plants and trees feel the pinch of summer but it was something to see how the chacrona plant would take on the appearance of dying, if it wasn't water every day! There were times when I couldn't be at the Bosque every single day but I was backed up by my water-carrying neighbor. Occasionally, he forgot the plant because it was on the edge of the wooded area below the reception center. When I returned to the site I would find the plant not only wilting but actually shriveled up and drying out. I really thought it had died on more than one occasion.

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