History of Morning Glory Seeds
Buy Morning Glory Seeds
Some info from the Psychedelic Encyclopedia: "When the Conquistadores subdued
the Aztecs, early chroniclers recorded that the Indians made religious and
medicinal use of peyote, another psychoactive plant called tlitliltzin, and a
small lentil-like seed called ololiuqui. The third, alleged to have been used
also for purposes of divination, came from a vine known in the Nahuatl language
as coaxihuitil (or `snakeplant')."
The plant called (in Nahuatl) "coaxihuitl" (the snake
plant) is, botanically, Rivea corymbosa (or Turbina corymbosa or Ipomeia
sidaefolia). The seeds are small and spherical, brown colored, and have the
common name "ololuiqui" or the Zapotec name "badoh."
A second plant of this morning glory series, is a large five-petaled beauty
called Ipomoea violacea (or Violacea tricolor). In the seeds are black, and rice
shaped, and are called (in Aztec) "tlitliltzen" and (in Zapotec) "badoh negro."
The records from the time of the Spanish conquest describe the medical and
divinatory use of small seeds that were called ololiuqui and reported their role
in the dulling of pain and the production of visions. For quite a while it was
uncertain just which plant groups were the sources of these seeds, and in the
early 20th century literature, the general opinion leaned towards this all being
some Datura species. Finally, in the late 1930s, Richard Evans Schultes and his
ally Reko, collected the active seeds in Oaxaca, Mexico, where it was still
being used by the Mazatec Indians. He identified them as being from the Morning
Glory world. And Albert Hofmann, of LSD fame, was the chemist who discovered
that these seeds contained ergot alkaloids.
Illustrations from the Florentine Codex suggested that coaxihuitil was a
member of the morning glory family. Though this family (Convolvulaceae) has over
500 species all
over the globe, they seem to have been used for their psychoactive properties
only in the New World.
In 1959, the ethnobotanist Richard Schultes sent samples of a cultivated Mexican
morning glory, Turbina corymbosa, to Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD.
Schultes had seen it used by a Zapotec shaman. In 1960, Hofmann analyzed the
seeds and said they contained ergot-like alkaloids. This was hard for
people to believe since previously such chemicals had only been found in the rye
fungus Claviceps purpurea (ergot). But Hofmann was right; the seeds contained
d-lysergic acid amide. This
differs from LSD only in that it has a NH2 where LSD has a N(C2H5)2, but LSD is
some 50 to 100 times as potent. The morning glory Turbina corymbosa's seeds also
have other psychoactive alkaloids in them: d-isolysergic acid amide,
chanoclavine, elymoclavine, and lysergol.
In 1960, Don Thomes MacDougall reported that seeds of another morning glory,
Ipomoea violacea were used as sacraments by certain Zapotecs, sometimes with the
Turbina corymbosa seeds and sometimes not. This morning glory species is the one
with familiar varieties in America: Heavenly Blue, Pearly Gates, Flying Saucers,
Blue Star, Summer Skies and Wedding Bells. The Ipomoea violacea has the same
psychoactive compounds in it except with ergometrine instead of lysergol.
Ergometrine has strong uterus-stimulating properties so it's a really bad idea
for pregnant women to eat these seeds. Also, these seeds are supposed to be bad
for people with liver problems (e.g. jaundice, hepatitus). These seeds are
called badoh negro down in South America, since they are black, and some people
think these were the mysterious tlitliltzin, which is the Nahuatl word for
"black" with a reverential suffix.
A third plant that has leapt into notoriety is the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose.
This is a four-to-the-seed capsule morning glory known as Argyreia nervosa. It
was unknown to the rain forest cultures, but it contains ergot alkaloids and
must be brought into this compilation. The better known Hawaiian Wood Rose is of
no interest at all.
My earliest exposures to Morning Glory seeds followed a Herb Caen column in
1963. There was at that time an advertising slogan LS/MFT ("Lucky Strikes Means
Fine Tobacco"), which got shifted over to LS/MGS with the MGS being Morning
Glory Seeds. The seeds were available in 25-pound sacks, and were selling like
fury. This brought it into our western world, in spades.
For more exacting details of the history of rare and exotic botanicals, I know of no better source than
the book by Schultes and Hofmann, entitled, "The Botany and Chemistry of
-- by Dr. Shulgin