Most cannabis smoked today is the result of hybridization: different cannabis strains are bred together, and the best of their offspring is kept to become a new strain. However, the process had to start somewhere.
Landrace cannabis strains are the original strains of cannabis that evolved in the wild. These strains are the roots of modern cannabis. Every bud you’ve ever smoked can be traced back to one landrace strain or another.
There are actually many landrace cannabis strains, but they can be sorted into three categories: indicas, sativas, and ruderalis. These are the three species of cannabis found in the wild. They can also be bred together to form new and exciting hybrids. While landrace strains themselves rarely produce large yields or impressive THC levels, they are still a valuable resource for cannabis growers and breeders.
Cannabis indica is the scientific name for the first type of landrace cannabis species. These plants tend to be bushier, shorter, and have broader leaves with dense buds. Indica plants can thrive in cooler temperatures. They’re also known for a physically relaxing high.
Indica strains are generally found in mountainous, dry places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s why they’re so well-suited for cool conditions. They evolved to survive cool nights, dry weather, and bright sunlight in their natural environment.
Indica landrace strains include:
- Afghani (Afghanistan)
- Hindu Kush (Kush mountains)
- Tashkurgan (Afghanistan)
Cannabis sativa landrace plants are the other most common cannabis species. Unlike Indicas, these plants thrive in low, humid, hot regions of the world. Sativas are found everywhere from Thailand to Central America, though they appear to have originated in India and South Africa. They are generally taller and slender, with narrow leaves and looser buds.
Sativa plants are also known for a stronger head high with more energetic effects. They thrive in warm regions and need plenty of water. They also tend to grow more quickly than Indicas.
Sativa landrace strains include:
- Thai (Thailand)
- Durban Poison (South Africa)
- Acapulco Gold (Mexico)
Cannabis Ruderalis, The Newest Addition To Landrace Cannabis Strains
Cannabis ruderalis is a relatively new addition to cannabis breeding, but it’s been growing wild in northern Asia, central Europe, and Russia for millennia. This species of cannabis evolved to handle much harsher conditions than its sister species, with low light and low temperatures year-round. As a result, it’s one of the hardiest cannabis species but produces the least THC.
There’s only one ruderalis landrace strain. It’s bred with modern hybrids to reduce their need for light and improve their hardiness. That’s where modern autoflower strains come from. Luckily, high-THC strains tend to keep their THC levels when cross-bred with ruderalis. On the other hand, they also become smaller and produce lower yields since ruderalis genetics encourage plants to save their resources.
Landrace strains offer unique opportunities for breeders. These strains have evolved all sorts of tricks to thrive in their environments. Whether a breeder is looking for better yields, larger buds, or healthier plants, there are landrace cannabis strains that can help them get the results they want.