Family Cactaceae A L de Jussieu 1789 nom conserv the Cactus Family

Physical description: The family Cactaceae consists of 100 genera and about 2000 species of xerophytic plants native to South America which are thought to have originated from the family Phytolaccaceae. Cactaceae produce triterpenoid saponins, mucilages, simple tetrahydroisoquinoline and phenethy-lamine alkaloids. The stems are succulent with scarcely developed leaves. The flowers are solitary, hermaphrodite, large, and showy, and comprise of several sepals and stamens initiated in a centrifugal sequence. The gynecium consists of 3-several carpels united in an inferior and more or less partitioned ovary which encloses 3-several ovules attached to parietal placentas. The fruits are berries.

Pharmaceutical interest: Cactaceae of the genera Carnegia, Coryphanta, Marginatocereus and Lophophora are known to produce epinephrine-like hallucinogen alkaloids. These are phenethylamine alkaloids derived from phenylalanine and tyrosine. Lophophora williamsii (Echinocactus williamsii (Lem. ex Salm-Dick) Coult.) or peyote, pey-

otl, anhalonium or mescal button, has been used by American shamans to cause hallucination. Peyote contains mescaline, the clinical properties of which are similar to those of lysergic acid diethylamide (Fig. 58). A few introduced Cactaceae species are used for medicinal purposes in Asia-Pacific, two of these are Opuntia dillenii (Ker — Gawl.) Haworth and Pereskia bleo DC.

OCH3

Mescaline

OCH3

Noradrenaline nh2

Mescaline

Noradrenaline

Fig. 58. Examples of neuroactive natural products characterized from the family Cactaceae. Note the similitude of chemical structure between mescaline and noradrenaline.

Continue reading here: Opuntia dillenii Ker Gawl Haworth

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