Plants erect, commonly unbranched, becoming many branched and moundlike in old age, deep-seated in substrate. Roots taproots. Stems unsegmented, usually gray-green or blue-green to dark green [yellow-green in L. diffusa of Mexico], usually flat-topped and cryptic in soil surface, sometimes protruding above it with recessed apex, ribbed or weakly tuberculate, 2-7.5 × (4-)5-12 cm, softly fleshy, soft skinned, dull, glabrous; ribs 5, 8, or 13 (rarely 21), low, broadly rounded, straight, vertical or less often helically curved around stem; areoles 3-15+ mm apart along ribs or at apices of low, humplike tubercles, circular, copiously hairy, hairs usually in compact, erect tufts to 7-10 mm; areolar glands absent; cortex and pith not mucilaginous. Spines absent. Flowers diurnal, deeply nestled in copious areolar hairs at stem apex, arising from adaxial edges of areoles, campanulate, 1-3 × (1-)1.5-2.5 cm; outer tepals whitish to greenish pink, midrib greenish, margins entire or minutely fringed or ciliate distally; inner tepals usually white to pink [rarely yellowish white or magenta to reddish violet, at least in Coahuila, Mexico], 8-14(-22) × (1-)2.5-5 mm, margins ciliate or entire; ovary smooth, scales, hairs, and spines absent; stigma lobes (3-)4-8, white or pinkish, 1-3 mm. Fruits indehiscent, white to pinkish [to purple], clavate to nearly cylindric, 11-25 × (2-)4-5 mm, weakly succulent, quickly drying and contracting after ripening, upon drying becoming translucent and brownish white or whitish, spines and scales absent; pulp colorless; floral remnant weakly persistent or tardily deciduous. Seeds black, somewhat pyriform, cylindric, or obovoid, 1-1.5 × 1-1.2 mm, not glossy, with large, flat hilum; testa cells strongly convex. x = 11.
Plants low, with long fusiform roots. Stems solitary or in clusters arising from the same root system, usually rounded above, depressed in the centers; blue-green, yellow-green, and occasionally appearing reddish green; 2-7 cm high, 4-12 cm in diam. Areoles usually linearly arranged along ribs or at the apices of humplike tubercles or podaria, each bearing a tuft of soft, yellowish or whitish trichomes from which the flowers arise, 8-15 mm apart, 1-5 mm in diam; spines absent except in seedlings and then only rudimentary. Flower 1-2.2 cm in diam, 1-2.4 cm long; outer perianth segments with greenish midribs and greenish pink or whitish margins, the largest ones elliptical, 3-12 mm long, 1-3 mm broad, mucronate, marginally minutely ciliate distally; inner perianth segments pink, white, or rarely yellowish white, sometimes with greenish midribs, the largest ones elliptical, 8-22 mm long, 2-4 mm broad, mucronate or occasionally attenuate, margins ciliate or entire; filaments white; anthers yellow; pollen ? spheroidal, 0-18 colpate, 14.9-63 style white, 5-14 mm long; stigmas 4-8 (rarely 3), 1-3 mm long, white though occasionally pinkish; ovary naked. Fruit pinkish red and fleshy at first, becoming brownish white and dry at maturity, naked, clavate, 15-20 mm long, 2-3.5 mm in diam, with the umbilicus large or the perianth parts persistent, emerging rapidly from within the trichomes at maturity. Seeds black, tuberculate (verrucose), pyriform, 1-1.5 mm long, 1 mm broad; hilum large and flattened; cotyledons coalescent. Flowering from March through September. Fruits mature 9-12 months after fertilization.
Widely distributed on limestone soils of low hills and flatlands in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas, northern, and central Mexico from 50 to 1800 m elevation.
|Peyote [Greek lophos, crest, and phoreus, a bearer, in reference to tufts of hairs in areoles]|