NEW YORK — Hundreds of plants containing mind-altering drugs have been discovered around the world in the last century by people who use them routinely, botanists said Sunday at a national meeting.
Different kinds of cacti, mushrooms, beans, potatoes, morning glories, berries and tree bark are laced with naturally occurring drugs--most of them alkaloids--that produce hallucinations, feelings of euphoria and drowsiness. Alkaloids can also have a strong toxic effect.
Marijuana and cocaine, which is derived from the coca plant, are commonly used in the United States today, the botanists said at a conference on psychoactive plants at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
Richard Evans Schultes, a botanist and professor at Harvard University, estimated that more than 150 plants are used as hallucinogens in the world today, contrasted with less than 15 hallucinogenic plants known to Europeans and tribal peoples a century ago.