Humans have been using cannabis for millennia. Surely, Bob Saget OG and Alaskan Thunderfuck haven’t been around that long, so where did they come from?
The original cannabis cultivars are called landrace strains, which gave birth to all the various strains we have today. Many of the landrace strains have been bred together to harness each of their most beneficial attributes.
Take a look at some of the landrace strains below and the genetics they’ve produced.
What Is a Landrace Strain of Cannabis?
A landrace strain is an original cultivar that has never been crossbred. It’s the starting point for all of the famous hybrids we know and love today. Landrace strains have evolved over time to adapt to their natural terroir. We come to recognize them by their distinct characteristics like effect, flavor, aroma, and chemical makeup. Basically, a landrace strain is purebred sativa or indica.
In general, landrace strains are taller, thinner, and less resinous than today’s short, stocky, and resinous hybrid strains. They also tend to have longer flowering times and produce lower yields than modern hybrids. But what landrace strains lack in quantity, they more than makeup for in quality. The fact that they have not been crossbred means that their genetics are unadulterated and closer to cannabis sativa’s wild ancestor than any other type of cannabis plant currently available.
This also explains why landrace strains are so difficult to find these days. With the exception of a few pockets of remote regions where they still grow wild, most landraces have been replaced by modern hybrids—which are generally better suited for cultivation under controlled conditions such as greenhouses and indoor grow ops.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. And some of the world’s most iconic cannabis strains—such as Thai Stick, Afghan Kush, and Durban Poison—can trace their lineage back to specific landraces. But these days, pure landrace strains are few and far between. If you’re lucky enough to come across one, consider yourself fortunate indeed.
Famous Landrace Sativa Strains
Sativa plants are taller and thinner than indicas, with narrower leaves. They typically have a lower THC content but a higher CBD content. Sativas are known for producing more of a “head high,” with effects like euphoria and creativity being common. In terms of aroma, sativas tend to be sweet or citrusy. Some popular sativa landrace strains include Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison, and Thai.
Origin: Guerrero Mountains of Mexico
Characteristics: Motivating and energizing with a coffee-like aroma
Terpenes: caryophyllene, myrcene, limonene
Famous descendants: Skunk #1, Grandaddy Purple, Green Crack, Devil’s Tit, Devil’s Skunk, Devil’s Passion
Origin: South Africa
Terpenes: terpinolene, myrcene, limonene
Famous descendants: Girl Scout Cookies, Thin Mints, Platinum GSC, Cherry Pie, Pink Champagne, Pie Face
Characteristics: Powerfully energizing with a citrus fruit aroma
Terpenes: caryophyllene, terpinene
Famous descendants: Trainwreck, Kandy Kush, Big Wreck, Haze, Silver Haze, Cannalope Haze
Famous Landrace Indica Strains
Indica plants are shorter and bushier than sativas, with wider leaves. They’re also known to have a higher THC content. Indicas are thought to produce more of a “body high,” with relaxation and couch-lock being common effects. In terms of aroma, indicas tend to be earthy or skunky. Some popular indica landrace strains include Hindu Kush, Afghani, and Mazar I Sharif.
Origin: Hindu Kush mountain range
Characteristics: Calming pain relief with an earthy flavor
Terpenes: caryophyllene, humulene, limonene
Famous descendants: Master Kush, Lemon Kush, Ayahuasca Purple, OG Kush, Ghost OG, SFV OG
Origin: Afghanistan mountain ranges
Characteristics: Pain-relieving euphoria with an earthy flavor
Terpenes: myrcene, limonene, pinene
Famous descendants: Blueberry, Blueberry Lambsbread, Blueberry Diesel, Northern Lights, Super Silver Haze, Shiva Skunk
Mazar I Sharif
Characteristics: Heavy sedation, mind-bending, and spiritual
Terpenes: linalool, caryophyllene, myrcene
Famous descendants: Mazar, Purple Mazar, Skywalker OG, Supernova, Champagne Supernova
Are There Any True Landrace Strains Left?
Plenty of seed banks have worked to preserve the precious legacy of landrace strains. Now, we mostly have hybrid cannabis strains, and some of them have become cannabis royalty due to their potent parents. But we get to experience the most unique characteristics of landrace strains through their offspring.
The history of landrace strains is a fascinating glimpse at the evolution of cannabis, and offers us a glimpse into the vast possibilities of creating strains for specific reasons. As the family trees begin to grow, let’s not forget that these original landrace strains started it all. So go enjoy your Gandalf OG, Cat Piss, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Alien genetics knowing that it was a long road to get where we are now!