The Spanish botanist Hipolito RUlz (1754-1816),
who traveled through South America in the
eighteenth century, provided the first descriptions
of many plants and returned with extensive
collections of botanical materials. In his Relaci6n,
he reported a number of experiences and provided
ethnobotanical notes from Peru and Chile
(Schultes 1980, 89*). RUlz described a polypody
known as cucacuca, incapcocam, or coca del Inca
under the binomial Polypodium incapcocam
(nomen nudum), whose botanical identity even
Richard E. Schultes was unable to determine. RUlz
noted that the Indians had informed him that the
Incas used the leaves of this plant instead of coca
(see Erythroxylum coca). Moreover, the powdered
plant was said to be used (how?) in place of
tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) in order to "clear the
head" (Schultes 1980,89*).
Whether Polypodium does indeed have psychoactive
effects remains to be seen, although it is
possible. Interestingly, the root of one species of
the genus Polypodium whose identity has not been
specified is ingested orallyRoute of administration in which the subject swallows a substance. together with the seeds
of Anadenanthera colubrina. It may contain
MAOMonoamine Oxidase, an enzyme that catalyses the metabolism of many drugs (e.g., DMT, dopamine and serotonin).-inhibiting J3-carbolines (or other substances
with the same effects). The root of the
common polypody (Polypodium vulgare 1.), also
known as sweet angel, contains small amounts of
an essential oil, tannin, bitter principles, and
sweet-tasting saponins (Pahlow 1993, 119*).
It is quite possible that there are other
psychoactive ferns; even German folklore contains
tales of filices, "ferns" (e.g., the worm fern, Aspidium
filix-mas)-also called irrwurz ("confused
root")-that have magical powers, make the devil
appear, and can make one invisible (Marzell 1964,
33f£.*; Schopf 1986, 84f.*). There are also ferns
that were added to beer. In Mexico, a fern known as itamo reaP36 (Pellaea cordata J. Sm.) is said to
have inebriating effects (Diaz 1979,93*).

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