Gramineae: Poaceae (Grass Family)

Following a comprehensive revision of the genus

Phalaris, a total of twenty-two species is now

accepted. The greatest number of species (eleven)

are found in the Mediterranean region, where they

are part of the indigenous flora. Four species are

native to the American Southwest (Baldini 1995).

Like Phalaris arundinacea, many species exhibit

considerable variability. The various species

appear to have different chemotypes and chemical

races. For this reason, experimenting with

unknown types of Phalaris without previously

analyzing their constituents can be extremely

dangerous. Many grasses contain gramine, a very

toxic alkaloid.

Phalaris aquatica 1. [syn. Phalaris bulbosa auct.

non. 1., Phalaris commutata Roem. et Schult.,

Phalaris nodosa Murray, Phalaris tuberosa 1.]water

canary grass

Originally from the Mediterranean region, this

species is now found throughout the world.

Phalaris aquatica is very common in Australia,

where it is despised in sheep pastures as a

poisonous grass (McBarron 1991, 17). This species

is thought to contain the highest concentrations of

N,N,-DMT in the genus (Baxter and Slaytor 1972;

Mack et al. 1988). Whether the Aborigines used

this grass in any way is unknown. There also is no evidence to determine whether the grass was

present in Australia before the arrival of the

Europeans or whether it was introduced along

with the cattle and sheep. There are several

varieties (e.g., var. australia, var. uneta), some of

which represent chemical races. Some sorts or

strains contain primarily N,N,-DMT, while in

others 5-MeO-DMT predominates (Mack and

Slaytor 1979; Mulvena and Slaytor 1982, 1983).

This grass is being increasingly tested for use in

developing ayahuasca analogs.
Phalaris spp.-cane canary grass

Ancient Egyptian graves have yielded grave

garlands into which pieces or entire stalks

(including panicles) of Phalaris species were

worked (Germer 1985, 219*). It is possible that

psychoactive tryptamines may be present in a

number of Phalaris species.


See also Phalaris arundinacea and ayahuasca


Anonymous. 1995. Phalaris special. Eleusis 49-51.

Baldini, Riccardo M. 1993. The genus Phalaris L.

(Gramineae) in Italy. Webbia 47:1-53.

---. 1995. Revision of the genus Phalaris L.

(Gramineae). Webbia 49:265-329.

Baxter, C., and M. Slaytor. 1972. Biosynthesis and

turnover of N,N-dimethyltryptamine and 5methoxy-

N,N-dimethyltryptamine in Phalaris

tuberosa. Phytochemistry 11:2767-73.

Mack, J. P. G., et al. 1988. N,N-dimethyltryptamine

production in Phalaris aquatica seedlings: A

mathematical model for its synthesis. Plant

Physiology 88:315-20.

Mack, J. P. G., and M. Slaytor. 1979. Indolethylamine

N-methyltransferase of Phalaris tuberosa.

Phytochemistry 18:1921-25.

McBarron, E. J. 1991. Poisonous plants. Melbourne,

Sydney, and London: Inkata Press.

Mulvena, D. P., and M. Slaytor. 1982. Separation of

tryptophan derivatives in Phalaris aquatica by

thin layer chromatography. Journal of

Chromatography 245:155-57.

---.1983. N-methyltransferase activities in

Phalaris aquatica. Phytochemistry 22 (1): 47-48.

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