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Trout's Notes on San Pedro & Related Trichocereus species
A Guide to assist in their visual recognition; with notes on Botany, Chemistry & History. Written, compiled &/or edited by Keeper of the Trout & friends
(Sacred Cacti 3rd Ed. Part B) © 2005 Mydriatic productions; a division of Better Days Publishing

[no ISBN located on cover]

Trout's Notes is a book for mescaline cultists who eat their specimens. It is not helpful for those collecting & raising landscaping sized columnar cacti. The T. Peruvianus v. Ressler (right) exhibits the beauty and majesty of these Peruvian cacti.

To avoid wading through the "Trout pond" I'd simply recommend a T. Peruvianus and T. Pachanoi as a nice beginning to a sacred cacti collection: 1) KK242 is probably a good choice for a "reference" Peruvianus (or possibly it is a true Macrogonus) that can be obtained from commercial sources. It is well documented to grow (outdoors) into a large, beautiful specimen.  2) Standard, boring old San Pedro has been cloned for decades in the USA. It is readily available and when grown outdoors in healthy conditions has a large and predictable habit.  3) Then you could add the attractive, well known/documented, Bridgessii, Macrogonus, Rimac, etc. to your collection.

I do not recommend that you attempt to obtain specimens from seed unless you see the mother plant and know the flowers were not cross pollinated. This is important because other Trichocereus varieties do flower at the same time. In fact, my T. Spachiana flowers simultaneously with my T. Pachanoi. I only propagate both by cuttings.
Cross pollination waiting to happen; my T. Spachiana flowers appear simultaneously with and are nearly identical to T. Pachanoi.

Photo from cactiguide.com
Related Links:

Trout's website / Columnar Cacti / cactiguide / erowid / entheogen
by Keeper of the Salmon — July, 2005
Trout's pompous "notes"
"...a huge kitchen sink full of dirty dishes."
1) Characterized by excessive self-esteem or exaggerated dignity; pretentious: pompous officials who enjoy giving orders.
2) Full of high-sounding phrases; bombastic: a pompous proclamation.
More Trout...
More Trout...
Trout's Tomato notes?
What if Trout wrote a tomato book? Imagine 900 B&W photos of sickly plants in 6" pots; cross pollinated by unknown parents.
I think Bob Ressler's color images are far more useful than anything I found in Trout's book.
Different species or different variety? Neither--both are pure San Pedro. Left one a young column grown in shade; right is more mature column grown in full sun.
San Pedro do not branch above ground?
One person angrily emailed to ask how I grafted branches onto my San Pedro. I don't. The person insisted that San Pedro do not branch above the ground!  The person insisted he was an "expert" who owned 200 plants.

How would anyone know they branch above ground unless they stop eating them long enough to allow the plant to mature to something larger than flowerpot size?
A book that endeavors to make its subject confusing

First of all you need to realize that the author is using the pseudonym "Trout" or "Keeper of the Trout". The sample of Trout's text (below) from the introduction is typical of the author's paragraph length sentences. His or her (No gender is associated with "Trout") poor writing style is reminiscent of pompous academia. He or she admits to being confused and then proceeds to prove why you, too, should be confused. Trout's approach is so messy that I find it useless. This is a book to throw out, not to study.

President Roosevelt once said "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" in this case "There is no confusion but confusion itself." What is there to be confused over? The picture on the cover is a San Pedro. Unfortunately everything inside the book cover is Trout's effort to spread confusion. To quote Trout:
"The following work should not be viewed as any sort of authoritative declaration concerning the taxonomy of the pachanoid-peruvianoid Trichocereus species, but rather it should be seen as a overview of what readers may encounter in horticulture accompanied by some verbal and visual guideposts that MIGHT be of value to the reader who, like myself, is foolhardy enough to attempt navigating through this section of what often seems to resemble a taxonomic analog of the Sargasso Sea." [Trout, intro]

Take the Trout out

The book needed a professional editor to prune Trout's weedy prose, a professional photography to replace the collage of amateur snap shots, and a graphic artist
to lay out the book as a professional level work. Lacking these essential elements it may be regarded as a huge kitchen sink full of dirty dishes. If you enjoying viewing hundreds of poorly photographed, small backyard or flowerpot sized specimens, grown in bonsai conditions; if you don't mind tiny text that lectures
in the manner of the sample above, well—then this may be the book for you.

Mongrel dogs and other cross breeds
Hundreds of neglected or cross bred Trichocereus suspected of having a drug content fill the pages. Reminds me of the mongrel dogs one finds at the SPCA. The only color photo in the book—on the cover—is a true San Pedro! All you
have to do is take cuttings (clone) that plant and you will have an endless
supply of ones with identical properties. But growing from seed introduces unknown parents that may have mixed.

Making a metaphor with the tomato; seed catalogs list hundreds of favorite tomato varieties. These have been developed by selective breeding over many generations. Some types are known to be over 100 years old. Plants are specifically grown to produce next years seed supplies. Yet, despite well known characteristics, growing conditions can make even the huge beefsteak mature at the size of a walnut when water in withheld (a technique called "dry farming.") Growing conditions dramatically change the appearance of a plant as any bonsai practitioner knows. How else do they fit a tree into a table top sized miniature?

Seed obtained from hand pollinated plants
When a professional farmer buys seed of known varieties, then grows them
under proper farming conditions the end product is highly predictable. This requires purity of the seed; which is why the flowers are covered with paper
bags to prevent stray pollination and are hand pollinated. Contrast this with Trout's approach; where are these people getting their seed from?

Cuttings bypass the problems of seed
It would be of no value to anyone to publish a book with 900 black & white photos of tomato plants grown in back yard flowerpots that had been cross bred with unknown varieties. Cross breeding cactus, and buying unlabeled cuttings from Europeans who cross bred them, etc. is an exercise in confusion compounded by cramming what should be tree sized plants into flowerpots. Only cuttings from plants that are "true specimens" will result in a perfect propagation of the true type. Trout seems to think that every flowerpot grown cacti that look "different" must be a unique variety. Where are the outdoor grown mature specimens? These are columnar cacti that grow naturally to be over 12 feet high—so why is the book dominated by flowerpot specimens? What would an apple tree look like if it spent its life trying to grow in a flowerpot?

Cactus eaters
Perhaps the "Trout problem" is caused by the behavior of mescaline eaters who snap off every column to consume it for the drug content. These are people who cannot allow a specimen to mature without eating it. Thus they constantly seek catalog sources for anything that might provide more biomass to sustain their activity. After a while they are photographing small budding tips that form on their numerous root bound stumps in flowerpots. Trout may spend the majority of his time focusing on flowerpot specimens because his circle of friends do not have mature plants growing outdoors.

Back in 1987-89 I started my San Pedro farm from cuttings of "true to type" plants imported decades previously by a botanist directly from Peru. See the cover of Trout's book? That is the true San Pedro and that is what I have propagated for 17 years. Mine has never crossed with any other variety.

I know the location of several mature San Pedro specimens in large outdoor stands growing around San Jose, Watsonville, and Ripon California. Separated by a distance of 100 miles, but in similar climate and of similar age (decades old), it is easy to see these are all the classic San Pedro. They are identical plants.
I can spot them as readily as most people can identify a robin or a bluebird.

From these identical stands I have cuttings that may grow slowly, have a yellow tint, and bear long spines. Or they can grow tall, thin, with short spines, and have a darker/bluish shade. The difference? Full sun versus partial shade. The difference is all in the growing. Whether it is in shade or full sun, in a flowerpot of in the earth—its all in how you grow a plant.

Shopping at Target, ebay & Europe
Trout may be obsessed with imported seeds and cuttings; obtaining from catalogs what would be called in statistics "convenience samples". In other words he or she is taking whatever is for sale instead of obtaining a cutting from a mother plant that is "true to type". But when one has obtained a "true to type" cutting then one simply grows it by taking additional cuttings...a process of cloning it to produce thousands of identical plants. From 5 tips in 1987 I have produced many tons of San Pedro. In Trout's case hundreds of rogue samples of "biomass" as he calls it are purchased from any available source. My favorite in the Trout book is a photo marked "Purchased from Target, unmarked." (Not in Trout's book is my favorite ebay scam— a guy selling cuttings of a non-trichocereus cactus by calling them "San Pedro Peruvianus" and the fooled buyers leaving positive feedback.)

People who buy from ebay sellers who falsely identify the species, or buy European seeds & cuttings without documentation of the mother plant deserve the confusion they inflict upon themselves. If you collect garbage then you end up with a collection of garbage; and Trout has produced a 900 black & white picture version of that collection.

If you find a review of this book on the Internet, please send me the URL.
(below) Cuttings from the same plant growing only 150 feet apart. Trout might call these separate "subspecies". Hopefully this image proves the point that growing conditions greatly determine the appearance of the plant.
What could be..
What if someone should travel to the home of the Trichocereus in South America? They could create a book based upon standardized field photography: 1) only mature, "in the earth", specimens would be photographed with a person standing next to it for scale, plus a color calibration card, 2) close ups of limbs & tips with scale object/color calibration card, 3) detailed photos of each specimen's flowers, 4) details of areoles, spines measured with a ruler, etc. 5) overview shot of area to show percentage of full sun the specimen receives, 6) notes on the elevation where each photographed specimen is growing, explanation of climate with annual rainfall, soil analysis, etc.

Organization: 1) a chapter on each main variety such as T. Peruvianus, T. Pachanoi, T. Bridgesii, T. Cuzcoensis, etc. Standardized close up photos of each variety's cross section, areoles, spines, side view, tip view, spine color, flower details, seed, etc. This is what you find in a text book or normal field identification guide.

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