Anadenanthera colubrina

Anadenanthera colubrina

Anadenanthera colubrina (also known as Vilca, Huilco, Wilco, Cebil, or Angico) is a South American tree closely related to Yopo, or Anadenanthera peregrina. It grows from 5m to 20m tall and the trunk is very thorny. The leaves are mimosa-like, up to 30cm in length and they fold up at night. In Chile, A. colubrina produces flowers from September to December and bean pods from September to July. In Brazil A. colubrina has been given "high priority" conservation status.


A. colubrina is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Mauritius.

Natural growing conditions

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. The growing areas are often "savannah to dry rainforest." Flowering can begin in as soon as two years after germination.

General uses


A sweetened drink is made from the bark.


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


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

Traditional medicine

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


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." 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.

Chemical compounds

Chemical compounds contained in A. colubrina include:

Entheogenic uses

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.

The main active constituent of vilca is bufotenine; to a much lesser degree DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are also present. A. colubrina has been found to contain up to 12.4% bufotenine. As bufotenine 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 [Ott 2001, p.90]. It is also believed that the beans were consumed orally by the Incas.

Botanical varieties



General references

  • Schultes, Richard Evans - Plants of the Gods (1992) ISBN 0-89281-979-0
  • I.J. Pachter, D.E. Zacharias, O. Ribeiro, "Indole Alkaloids of Acer saccharinum (the Silver Maple), Dictyloma incanescens, Piptadenia columbrina, and Mimosa hostilis", J. Org. Chem. 24, 1285 (1959).

External links

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