3. Botscape

A Botanical Journey #

A vast array of plants and fungi can be used to induce psychedelic states, stimulation, sedation, empathogenic or entactogenic episodes, and indeed the full spectrum of psychoactive experiences commonly associated with chemical or drug use. Many of these are deeply entrenched in history and pre-history, being central to cultures and civilizations across the world.

Terminologically, however, Western society appears to struggle with the issues and concepts raised by these matters. The following are the closest related terms I could find to cover this field, as documented by Wikipedia:

Ethnobotany (from ethnology, study of culture, and botany, study of plants) is the scientific study of the relationships that exist between peoples and plants.”

An entheogen (“generating the divine within”) is a chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context that may be synthesised or obtained from natural species

Neither of these seems to place much focus on the study of the psychoactivity of botanicals in itself. Neither fully articulates the qualities and richness of the actual experiences that can be induced.

Whilst the study of the use of botanical materials purely for psychoactive purposes is not new, direct reports covering all but the most renowned and well known species tend to be sparse. There are exceptions, however.

The most comprehensive source I found during my research was Christian Rätsch’s The Encyclopaedia of Psychoactive Plants. This is a hugely impressive work, spanning almost the full gamut of psychoactivity, and with a depth of historical research which is second to none. It is expensive, although as Rätsch himself states in the preface, it is his first “life work”.

For hallucinogens, ‘Plants of the Gods’, by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hoffman & Christian Rätsch, is unparalleled. This studies the major botanical psychedelics inclusive of their history and ritual use, and it presents them in superbly illustrated bite sized chunks.

Another major source of information came from the books and lectures of the most famed psychonaut, Terence McKenna. These again were largely limited to psychedelics, but were very much focused upon the experience itself.

McKenna’s insights, and his own botanical research, provide invaluable knowledge and illumination to anyone willing to spend some time in this field.

These were the primary guides used to support the research which is documented within this section. Along with the Internet, I used these to navigate a path through the psycho-botanical realm, obtaining and experimenting with whatever samples I could acquire. They provided a roadmap for the overall adventure.

If necessary, due to either difficulty with sourcing or UK prohibition, I would travel. These individual journeys tended to deliver a richer and more fulfilling experience than any other. They also enabled an insight and understanding which underpinned the wider initiative.

Finally, like others who have worked with psychoactive plants, I feel that there is a depth and quality to this field which is of fundamental importance. There is profound knowledge to be gleaned from these experiences, particularly with the hallucinogens, which could address many of the most serious issues facing our species. This is ignored at our peril.


Not all sources are equal. If a botanical sample isn’t active, it could well be the case that the vendor has provided a product which has been in stock for too long, or which has dried out too much, or which is simply in poor condition. I have experienced this on a number of occasions, and have often persevered using alternative sources to finally find the requisite quality.

Note also that assumption can be dangerous. If you are testing material in indigenous surroundings, do not assume that the dose being consumed by the locals is safe for you. Tolerance applies as much to botanicals as it does to research chemicals. Tread slowly and carefully: and always research well, prior to experimentation.


To facilitate reference, the botanicals sampled on my journey have been ordered into the following sub-sections:

During the legal high years, almost any psychoactive botanical could belegally imported into the UK. A substantial number could be purchased online via the click of a mouse.

During the legal high years, almost any psychoactive botanical could belegally imported into the UK. A substantial number could be purchased online via the click of a mouse.