|Trout's Notes on San Pedro & Related
|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
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:
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.
pollination waiting to happen; my T. Spachiana flowers appear
simultaneously with and are nearly
identical to T. Pachanoi.
|by Keeper of the Salmon —
"...a huge kitchen sink full of dirty
1) Characterized by excessive self-esteem or exaggerated
dignity; pretentious: pompous officials who enjoy giving
2) Full of high-sounding phrases; bombastic: a pompous
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
|San Pedro do not branch above
|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
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
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,
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
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!
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
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
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?
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
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
Shopping at Target, ebay & Europe
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
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.
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
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.