Psychoactive plants contain substances that can alter mood, consciousness, and behavior. They grow in almost every environment around the world; plants with these qualities thrive all over the state of Florida. For millennia, people have used such plants and herbs for various medical conditions, though using them in this or any capacity without detailed knowledge of preparation and dosage can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnate)
Originally from the West Indies and parts of South America, the passion flower is a woody shrub found over most of Florida with large leaves that somewhat resemble those of a maple, only the passion flower’s leaves have three digits instead of five. Every part of the plant has psychoactive properties that produce mild hallucinogenic effects as well as a mild hypnotic state. The chemicals responsible for these effects are luteoline and apigenine.
Heliotrope (Valeriana officinalis)
The subspecies of heliotrope that grows from the valerian root was originally native to Europe, but now thrives all over the United States, including most of Florida. The Romans used the volatile oils in the roots as tranquilizers and sedatives. Modern medical uses include treatment for nervousness, anxiety, insomnia and depression. The alkaloids valerine and chatinine, as well as valeric acid, produce the noteworthy effects.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
This perennial shrub has ovate leaves and lovely greenish-purple flowers in springtime that produce globular purple-black berries in the summer. The berries look very appealing but are deadly poisonous. However, in its native Europe and thanks to its antispasmodic effects, doctors used belladonna (or deadly nightshade) to treat hay fever and asthma for centuries, safely. The active chemicals hyoscyamine, scopolamine and atropine make this an extremely potent poison in even small doses. Other effects of nightshade ingestion include blocking of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which can increase blood pressure and heart rate, hypnosis and severe hallucinations.
Prairie Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis)
Found all over the United States in grasslands, this odd-looking plant grows vertical stalks upon which leathery, ovate seedpods grow outward like layered clamshells; atop each stalk grows spherical clusters of greenish-yellow flowers. The large seeds contain the potent psychoactive chemical dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, with effects similar to that of LSD though very short-acting (vivid hallucinations, delirium, hypnosis).
Morning Glory (Ipomoea violacea)
These beautiful flowers grow almost everywhere in Florida—as well as the rest of the country—other than in swampy areas. The bright blue flowers fold up each night and open in the morning when sunshine strikes the pedals. Other than the roots, the entire plant has psychoactive qualities, though the seeds are most potent and carry the chemicals ergometrine and D-lysergic acid amide (or LSA, very similar in effect to LSD). Used medically to treat cluster headaches, the effects of LSA include lethargy, a detachment from reality and a failure to think clearly.
Tom Wagner began writing for newspapers and magazines in the L.A. area in 2001. With articles appearing in "California Examiner," "World Reporter," the "Philippine Nurses Monitor" and "Famegate Global News," he currently writes for all three Philippine Media publications in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. His articles focus on food, social issues, travel, sight-seeing, humor, general information, politics and medical matters.