Anadenanthera peregrina, also known as yopo, jopo, cohoba, parica or calcium tree, is a perennial tree of the genus Anadenanthera native to the Caribbean and South America. It grows up to 20 m (66 ft) tall, and has a horny bark. Its flowers are pale yellow to white and spherical. It is an entheogen which has been used in healing ceremonies and rituals for thousands of years in South America.
The first report of the effects of snuff prepared from the beans of Anadenanthera peregrina dates back to 1496 when it was observed by Friar Ramon Pane, who was commissioned by Christopher Columbus, among the Taino Indians of Hispaniola. Pane's report was first published in 1511 in Martyr's descriptions of the New World. The description of its effects reads in part: "This kohobba powder," described as "an reality bending herb, is so strong that those who take it lose consciousness; when this action begins to wane, the arms and legs become loose and the head droops." It is traditionally administered with a cane about one foot long of which they introduce one end "in the nose and the other in the powder and ...draw it into themselves through the nose". It worked quickly: "almost immediately they believe they see the room turn upside-down and men walking with their heads downwards". The administering witch-doctor took the drug along with his patients, intoxicating "them so that they do not know what they do and ... speak of many things incoherently", believing that they are in communication with spirits.
Archaeological evidence shows Anadenanthera beans have been used as hallucinogens for thousands of years. The oldest clear evidence of use comes from pipes made of puma bone (Felis concolor) found with Anadenanthera beans at Inca Cueva, a site in the northwest of Humahuaca in the Puna border of Jujuy Province, Argentina. The pipes were found to contain the hallucinogen DMT, one of the compounds found in Anadenanthera beans. Radiocarbon testing of the material gave a date of 2130 BC, suggesting that Anadenanthera use as a hallucinogen is over 4,000 years old. Snuff trays and tubes similar to those commonly used for yopo were found in the central Peruvian coast dating back to 1200 BC, suggesting that insufflation of Anadenanthera beans is a more recent method of use. Archaeological evidence of insufflation use within the period 500-1000 AD, in northern Chile, has been reported. Some indigenous peoples of the Orinoco basin in Colombia, Venezuela and possibly in the southern part of the Brazilian Amazon make use of yopo snuff for spiritual healing. Yopo snuff was also widely used in ceremonial contexts in the Caribbean area, including Puerto Rico and La Española, up to the Spanish Conquest.
Yopo snuff is usually blown into the user's nostrils by another person through bamboo tubes or sometimes snuffed by the user using bird bone tubes. Blowing is more effective as this method allows more powder to enter the nose and is said to be less irritating. In some areas the unprocessed ground beans are snuffed or smoked producing a much weaker effect with stronger physical symptoms. Some tribes use yopo along with Banisteriopsis caapi to increase and prolong the visionary effects, creating an experience similar to that of ayahuasca.
The wood from A. peregrina is very hard and is used for making furniture. It has a Janka rating of 3700 lb. and a density of around 0.86 g/cm³.