Landrace Strain Origins | Mapping the Roots of Today's Cannabis

December 8, 2019

Landrace Strain Origins

Mapping the Roots of Today's Cannabis

What exactly is a landrace strain and how does this differ from most of the cannabis available today?

Have you ever wondered where today's cannabis originated?  What’s the deal with all the “Kush” and “Hazes?” Just like the story of mankind, all of today’s cannabis can be traced back to a few original cannabis plant types known as landrace strains. What exactly is a landrace strain and how does this differ from most of the cannabis available today?

Cannabis History

The first cannabis plants were a wild species.

Humans may have been using cannabis in some way, shape or form, since as far back as 10,000 B.C.E.! Historical documents have been found, dating as far back as 2900 B.C.E. (before common era) and archaeological evidence from various regions indicate that cannabis was used during the Neolithic period in China.

The first cannabis plants were a wild species, growing in the Hindu Kush region of what is now known as Afghanistan and Pakistan. This region used to be a no-man’s land between Indian and Chinese civilizations. Imagine, an explorer stumbling upon a crop of wild cannabis 12,000 years ago. Perhaps they nibbled on the leaves for a food source, and discovered the durable fibre might be useful for ropes and textiles? Might some travellers have even smoked it?

Cannabis Migration

Cannabis likely spread across trade routes along the early Silk Road.

Many experts speculate that cannabis likely spread across trade routes along the early Silk Road. That ancient “Kush” was resourceful, so the seeds were collected, and it slowly migrated from Kush and China to Russia, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and even parts of North America. Environmental variability influenced the plant as it gradually adapted to these new regions, and landrace strains were born.

7 Landrace Strains from Around the World

Landrace strains are generally indigenous to particular geographic locations.

A landrace strain is a variety of cannabis with less diluted DNA than other strains of cannabis, much like a purebred dog. Landrace strains are generally indigenous to particular geographic locations. Descendants of a landrace strain will often bear part of the region’s name (example: Mango Haze). Although this is not a complete list of landrace strains, it does give you an idea of Pink Kush’s ancestry.

Seven landrace strains from around the world: Hindu Kush, Afghani, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Lambs Bread, Durban Poison, Thai
Landrace Strains and their Origins.

Cannabis Hybridization

Some people argue that the original Indica and Sativa, the purest of the pure strains, are lost.

Landrace strains have not been crossbred with other varieties of cannabis. Some people argue that the original Indica and Sativa, the purest of the pure strains, are lost. The myriad of strains we currently have available are a result of hybridization, and every strain can be traced back to that original wild species and the handful of landrace strains that followed.

Where Have all the Landrace Strains Gone?

Take a seed and grow it in a region outside its natural environment, the plant will adapt to its new surroundings.

Cannabis is a plant, and just like every other plant in the world, when you take a seed and grow it in a region outside its natural environment, the plant will adapt to its new surroundings. Larger leaves may grow to accommodate to different sun exposure. Stronger stalks will develop in areas where the plant needs to withstand high winds. Every factor, from soil acidity and humidity to the introduction of new pests, will affect the growth cycle.

If a pure Indica from the Hindu Kush region grows in a different climate, the mature plant will be similar to its parent, but some characteristics will ultimately have adapted to the new environment. If you return those plants or new seeds to their Hindu Kush environment, one could argue the influence in the prior region will have ultimately influenced its current and potential state.

Modern-Day Cannabis

Particular flavour and terpene profiles are sought after by both recreational and medical cannabis users.

During the 1960s and 70s, many growers began collecting landrace strains to breed in their local gardens. These strains are often called heirlooms, and modern-day cultivators have hybridized them and their offspring to create new “super strains.” Why? Some growers desire a shorter flowering cycle. Others try to create strains with higher THC or CBD yields. Often, particular flavour and terpene profiles are sought after by both recreational and medical cannabis users. Modern-day cannabis growers have altered the plant's genetics through the hybridization process, and now consumers have lots of choices..

Landrace Strains vs Hybrid Strains

The landrace classification only describes the strain’s genetic lineage and indigenous upbringing.

Now that your understanding of cannabis lineage is a little less hazy, it’s important to note, landrace strains are not “better” than modern strains. The landrace classification only describes the strain’s genetic lineage and indigenous upbringing. Don’t expect that a landrace strains will get you higher than White Widow. Modern strains have been bred by growers to produce specific effects, whereas a landrace strain is closer to the original wild plant our ancestors discovered. 

Higher Education with Hybrid Socials

Landrace genetics are a key and integral building block to this new world of cannabis.

Steve Crichton, Director of Education for Green Hedge, believes it is equally important to know about the science of cannabinoids and terpenes, in addition to the historical lineage and genetic makeup of cannabis. Steve will be at Central Cannabis to provide further insight on the subject.

Join us for a Hybrid Social with Steve Crichton.

Hybrid Social Cannabis Education Event with CannaFarms and Green Hedge
CannaFarms offers our first history lesson focused Hybrid Social.

Steve believes landrace genetics are a key and integral building block to this new world of cannabis. He will be on location to help consumers connect the dots and give a little colour on the world of landrace genetics! Why? Because knowledge is power. Understanding the history of cannabis is just as important as knowing the science of cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The more we know, the more likely we will objectively observe different cannabis experiences and make better-informed decisions about which cannabis strains to use responsibly in the future.