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
Phalaris aquatica 1. [syn. Phalaris bulbosa auct.
non. 1., Phalaris commutata Roem. et Schult.,
Phalaris nodosa Murray, Phalaris tuberosa 1.]water
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 indeveloping 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
Mack, J. P. G., and M. Slaytor. 1979. Indolethylamine
N-methyltransferase of Phalaris tuberosa.
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
---.1983. N-methyltransferase activities inPhalaris aquatica. Phytochemistry 22 (1): 47-48.