Psychotria carthagenensis growing from leaf

How to Root Psychotria carthagenensis Leaves

We’ve put together this brief beginner’s tutorial which covers the basic technique we use when establishing new plants from Psychotria carthagenensis leaves (syn. Psychotria alba, aka ‘Amyruca’, ‘Rami Appane’, ‘Rani Appani’, ‘Sameruca’, ‘Tupamaqui’, ‘Wy-soo-dö’, ‘Yagé’ and ‘Yage-chacruna’).

A slow-growing member of the coffee family, carthagenensis is an evergreen understory shrub which grows to roughly twelve metres tall and is very similar in appearance to the related Psychotria viridis. Widespread to Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, it’s sometimes used in various traditional and modern religious practices, as well as (less often) as a source of wild timber for making boards, boxes, door and window frames and toys.

This Psychotria propagation technique is as easy as it gets, also working well for related species and hybrids such as Psychotria colorata, Psychotria ‘Nexus’, Psychotria viridis, etc. This really is a fascinating species to cultivate – particularly during its initial growth phase when it spawns one or more new plants from a single leaf!

Psychotria carthagenensis growing from leaf

How to Root Psychotria carthagenensis Leaves

Materials:

  • Psychotria carthagenensis leaves (the fresher the better, but we’ve had success rooting them up to a month or so after being picked, dependent on storage)
  • Clear plastic containers with lids (takeaway containers are perfect)
  • Coco coir
  • Perlite
  • Sand
  • Sieve
  • Water
  • Marker pen (optional)
  • Microwave (optional)
  • Organic fertiliser (optional)
  • Sellotape or label (optional)

Method:

1. First, prepare an equal mix of coarse sand, coco coir and perlite as a substrate. Make sure to sieve out any especially large debris and (optionally) consider pasteurising the ingredients in a microwave to reduce the chances of unwanted bacteria, etc.

Left to right: Perlite, sieved coco coir, coarse sand.

2. Blend the substrate ingredients evenly and then fill the plastic containers three or four centimetres deep. We usually shake the container from side to side until the surface of the growing mix is somewhat level.

3. Now that you have the substrate ready, it’s time to prepare the Psychotria leaves. Trim off any dry or otherwise parts and gently wipe away any debris from the surface.

4. It’s possible to further encourage each Psychotria leaf to form multiple new plants by carefully folding them length ways several times, like a concertina. The small tears produced by this technique allow more opportunity for roots to form.

A ‘concertinaed’ Psychotria viridis leaf, ready to plant; the principle also holds for carthagenensis (of which we forgot to take photos the last time we planted some).

5. Now, bury each leaf beneath a shallow layer of substrate and add a little water (our climate seems to favour approximately 25-35mL). We generally place one or two leaves into each container (dependent on size), covering them loosely with two to five millimetres of growing mix. You may also choose to add a small amount of organic fertiliser at this point.

6. Seal the containers with their lids and then put them in a warm place which enjoys full sun to partial shade (or else under artificial light). We label each container with the date and the name of the plant (and variety, etc. where relevant).

7. Now it’s time to wait! The first roots should begin to form after a month or two, dependent on moisture and temperature levels.

8. The new Psychotria carthagenensis plants are ready to pot on once the roots are firmly established. Note that this can take a while, so don’t be too hasty to re-pot when you first see new roots start to appear!

We sometimes stock Psychotria carthagenensis leaves and seeds in our shop