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What are the main cannabis Landraces?

  • As explained in this post, cannabis Landraces are native plant populations that have developed over the centuries adapted to the environmental conditions of their geographical location and shaped by local growers, developing unique characteristics over time.
  • Genetics such as Punto Rojo or Colombian Gold, which breeders used for creating the hybrids that are found in today’s market.
  • Are you are interested in the strains that gave rise to modern genetics? Keep reading to find out what they’re like and where they come from!
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Today's cannabis family tree is formed by as a vast sea of strains where it can be difficult to find your way around. But just four or five decades ago, before the emergence of modern breeding and hybrids, things where quite different and cannabis strains were much less numerous. Naming all the Landraces that exist – or have existed in the past– is definitely out of our reach, but what we certainly can do is put together a summary of the most important ones.

Colombian Landraces – Sativa

Traditionally, Colombian Landraces were divided into two categories: the ones that grew in the Atlantic coastal areas close to Panama – low-lying, wet lands such as some areas in Cauca and Nariño – and the ones that grew in much harsher climates in the mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Over time, cannabis growing extended to inland areas such as Meta.

These Landraces were given names such as Colombian Gold, Cali Hills, Punto Rojo and Santa Marta Gold – a clear reference to their place of origin and to the colour of their flowers - and became popular with the American hippies that smoked cannabis in the 70. Local Colombian growers used to divide the plant in two when marketing it. The upper part, called "la mona", sold for about 200-300 pesos a pound and the lower side – "the leave" – for about 100.

Morphology

The traits of Colombian Landrace strains may vary according to their growing area because of the country's geographical and climatic diversity, but mostly they are cone-shaped plants with plenty of lateral branching, large internodal spacing, a long central stem and leaves with narrow leaflets. These strains enjoy the long growing seasons of equatorial climates and might find it difficult to mature if grown in cold weathers in the Northern Hemisphere. Vigorous and THC-rich, these strains are also high in CBD an CBN and have the classical Sativa effect, i. e. uplifting and cerebral.

They are cone-shaped plants, with many lateral branches, and a Sativa effect. Moreover, its development depends on the geographical zone it is located, due to the changing environmental conditions of Colombia.

Did you know?

The yellowish hues of Gold strains are actually due to a drying technique consisting in partially peeling the central stem of the plant during the last phase of flowering in order to reduce the nutrient and water flow, making the plant die slowly while getting its characteristic golden colour.

The apple does not fall far from the tree…

Colombian Gold, one of the world's largest known Colombian Landraces, was parent to the renowned Skunk #1, which has been used in the breeding process of other popular strains such as Cheese. A Colombian Landrace was also used for creating Haze, which has in turn resulted in strains as potent as Original Amnesia.

Hindu Kush Landraces - Indica (Afghanistan and Pakistan)

Grown on the slopes of high-altitude Afghan and Pakistani valleys (over 3,2000 metres), these Landraces have been traditionally used for hash production. Their phenotypic expression is the result of centuries of adaptation to the dry, arid climate of their region and of the genetic selection carried out by local growers generation upon generation. Small in size, fast flowering, highly productive in terms of resin and sedative, these Landraces have been widely used for the creation of the hybrids we commonly see in today's market.

This type of plant, in the shape of fir, has dense and resinous buds of great aroma, the delight of any consumer.

Morphology

Hindu Kush Landraces are small, wide and stocky and have a thick, woody central stem with lateral branches that grow upwards, leaning towards the stem in the shape of a cone, just like a fir. The dark green leaves are composed of 5 to 9 very wide leaflets whose back is a shade lighter than the top and the buds are dense and very resinous, growing along the main branches with a low calyx-to-leave ratio. But with the primary aim of growers having traditionally been hash production, this proportion is not considered a problem, as the high amount of small leaves the flowers develop are entirely covered in resin too.

Did you know?

Hindu-Kush Landraces develop their strong aroma in their early growing stage and keep it for their whole life cycle.

The apple does not fall far from the tree…

This type of Landraces have originated modern hybrids that have become true cannabis icons, such as Bubba Kush, Purple Afghan Kush and Remo Chemo.

Indian Landrace (Centre and South) - kerala, Mysuru, Chennai

Called "ganja" by the local population, these Landraces have been grown in India over the centuries and are deeply rooted in the country's popular culture, where they are used both in religious rituals and festivals and in the medicinal field. This type of strains are grown for the flowers and not for hash production, this is why growers have focused on traits such as the flavour and the aroma when shaping the populations.

This plant, originative from India, has a great size and a exquisite aroma and flavor that comes along with a plesant psychoactive effect.

Morphology

Indian Landraces are tall plants with a sturdy central stem that can reach up to three metres in height and plenty of lateral branching – similar to ferns – with medium-sized, medium green leaves divided into 7-10 leaflets. The buds are curved and not very abundant but produce huge amounts of resin with a unique spicy aroma and a particularly psychoactive effect.

Did you know?

This kind of cannabis has been used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) since ancient times for the treatment of multiple diseases and it is often consumed in the form of Bhang.

Jamaican Landraces - Sativa

Sativa leaning both in terms of the appearance and the effect, these genetics are known for their strong psichoactivity, which is highly cerebral, clear and uplifting as a result of the latitude and the climate of Jamaica. One of the best-known Jamaican Landraces is Lamb's Bread, whose fame transcended the island's borders thanks to celebrities like Bob Marley.

Morphology

These strains resemble the Colombian Landraces that are grown at low altitude both in the shape of the leaves and the general appearance, except that Jamaican strains are taller, thinner and have a different effect.

Did you know?

Rumour has it that Lamb's Bread was Bob Marley's favourite strain.

Lebanese Landraces

Just like Hindu-Kush strains, Lebanese Landraces have been traditionally grown for hash production. This is why growers focused on resin amounts rather than on the calyx-to-leave ratio when selecting the individuals from the populations.

Morphology

These plants are rather short and small with thin stems, stunted branches, wide, medium green leaves, resinous, quite leafy buds and a short flowering period.

Did you know?

Lebanese Landraces are used for making "Red Lebanese", a kind of hash that is distinguished for its narcotic effect and its reddish colour.

Malawian Landraces - Sativa

Malawi is one of Africa's largest cannabis producers. The phenotype of Malawian Landraces may vary slightly from plant to plant, but mostly they are similar to Thai strains. They have quite a long flowering period, at the end of which they can develop yellowish hues as a result of the environmental conditions they are exposed to. Accordingly, some Malawian Landraces are given names like "Malawi Gold".

Although its flowering period is long, this phenotype of Landrace offers sweet resinous flowers, a pleasure for the palate.

Morphology

Malawian Landraces are medium-sized, slender plants with a sturdy central stem and dark green leaves with thin, serrated leaflets. The buds are composed of an elongated calyx with few leaves and may grow far apart from one another because of the wide internodal spacing. Sweet and highly resinous, they feature a strong psychoactive effect that brought them fame.

Did you know?

Malawian cannabis is wrapped in corn cob husk for transport and sale.

Culture and tradition

Malawian cannabis is commonly referred to as "chamba" and is considered to be amongst Africa's best Sativa strains.

Mexican Landraces - Sativa

Mexico has traditionally been one of the largest cannabis producers in Latin America and one of the leading exporters to the US. The country has been ravaged by decades of drug trafficking, which led to the "war on drugs" and thus to the destruction of many Mexican cannabis fields, seriously affecting the survival of Mexican Landraces.

As in other countries, Mexican Landraces were named after their place of origin and thus names such as Chiapan, Guerreran, Nayarit, Michoacan, Oaxacan, and Sinoalan gained notoriety in the early '60s. These names indicated that the cannabis had been grown in coastal areas of the Pacific, in the states extending from Northern Sinaloa through Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca to Southern Chiapas.

Morphology

Mexican Landraces are tall plants with elongated leaves composed of thin, medium/light green leaflets. Despite their long flowering period, these strains mature quite early if compared to Colombian and Thai Landraces, producing elongated buds with a high calyx-to-leave ratio and a very potent cerebral effect.

Did you know?

Landraces from Oaxaca and Sinaloa became popular in the 70's and were considered icons amongst American and European hippies.

The apple does not fall far from the tree…

Thanks to Mexican Landraces we can now enjoy true Sativa hybrid gems such as Super Silver.

Moroccan Landraces – Rif mountains

The Rif is a mountainous region in northeast Morocco and in the plateau adjacent to the city of Ketama cannabis growing dates back to the 15th century. Originally, Moroccan producers focused on the flowers, which were mixed with tobacco for consumption, but in recent decades cannabis is mainly grown for hash production.

This type of rather stunted plants are especially used for the production of hashish, which is the main livelihood of the Moroccan population in the Rif mountains.

Morphology

As a result of the tendency to sow several plants per square meter and to water and feed them sparingly, Moroccan Landraces are 1 to 2 meters tall and have little branching. This is why cannabis fields in Morocco are full of central stems with particularly resinous buds and very few lateral branches. Due to the genetic selection carried out by growers over the years, Moroccan Landraces look very much like Hindu Kush and Lebanese ones – small sized and with little branching – and in fact they are all grown with the same purpose, namely hash production.

Did you know?

Morocco is currently one of the largest hash producers in the world and even if Mohammed V banned cannabis production and sale, being the main livelihood of the local people, it has not been eradicated from the Rif mountains and as a matter of fact the whole country benefits financially from it.

Nepali Landraces

Just like in India and Bangladesh, cannabis growing in Nepal dates back to many years and is closely linked to religion, particularly to the Maha Shivaratri festival, where people worship the god Shiva. Cannabis in Nepal has been traditionally grown on the slopes of high-altitude mountains – over 3,000 metres – and it is used both for hash production and for the buds.

Morphology

Nepali Landraces are tall, thin plants with elongated buds that give off a delicious, fresh aroma. This trait, together with their strong effect and their high resin production, has turned Nepali genetics into a great option for the creation of hybrids.

Did you know?

Cannabis was legal in Nepal as recently as 1973, and the country was a mecca for tourists, who travelled there in search of the product, particularly the much-appreciated "nepali charas", a kind of hash that is extracted by rubbing the living plant between the hands.

Siberia and Kazakhstan - Ruderalis

Even if Ruderalis cannot be considered as Landraces – they have not been grown and shaped by local growers – they deserve a special mention on this article for they contribution to modern genetics. Cannabis plants are highly adaptive to the environment, to the point that they can acclimate to and survive the Siberian cold despite their preference for sunny weather. As they do not depend on the photoperiod to complete their life cycle, that is, to flower and reproduce, they have been able to adapt to cold environments with short summers and very long days. This type of genetics was the one used for the creation of autoflowering hybrids, which revolutionised the cannabis market.

The Rudelaris is not considered a Landrace, but it has contributed to the development of today's modern genetics. Its main characteristic is that it does not depend on the photoperiod to complete its cycle.

Morphology

Wild Ruderalis plants are similar to weed and grow along roadsides. They are small, cone shaped and not as bushy as Indicas and Sativas. They have a short life cycle of just 8-19 weeks and flower on week 7 with no apparent dependence on the photoperiod. This type of genetics tends to be low in THC and high in CBD.

Did you know?

Cannabis Ruderalis was discovered and baptised in 1924 by Russian botanist D. E. Janischevsky. The first autoflowering strain – Lowryder, a hybrid resulting from the cross between a William's Wonder and a Northern Lights # 2 – was marketed in the early 2000s.

The apple does not fall far from the tree...

Ruderalis genetics have given rise to autoflowering strains that now attain the highest standards of quality, including Critical + 2.0 Auto and Dinamex Auto.

Thai Landraces - Sativa

When the American troops withdraw from Vietnam in the mid-'70s, Southeast Asian strains, particularly the Thai ones, gained worldwide fame. Cannabis cultivation has traditionally been the livelihood of many farm families in the northeast of Thailand, especially in Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Sakhon Nakhon, but since the adoption of the Narcotics Act in 1979, it is totally prohibited and producers and marketers are liable to up to 15 years' imprisonment.

This variety of Landrace is of great importance and presents a meandering shape. It has a very long flowering period, but it is worth it due to the sweet and citric flavor of its buds, pure ecstasy for cannabis users. In addition, it has a very powerful brain effect.

Morphology

Thai Landraces are large plants that often develop a winding central stem with lots of branching. The calyxes are elongated, just like the leaves, which have 9 to 11 serrated leaflets Thais refer to as "crocodile tale" because of their similar shape. Most Thai genetics have a long flowering period and are very prone to hermaphroditism, but despite these "shortcomings", they are highly appreciated by breeders for their sweet citrus aroma their psychoactive potency. In fact, Thai cannabis is most known for its effect, as its cannabinoid composition – high THC levels and low CBN and CBD – makes for a very potent cerebral high.

Did you know?

In Thailand, the highest quality cannabis is supplied in a very specific way, the so-called "Thai sticks". The cannabis is wrapped around a skewer, bound with a characteristic red thread and covered with leaves, after which the skewer is removed and the cannabis adopts the shape of a cigar, hence the name.

The apple does not fall far from the tree…

Thai Landraces have given rise to great modern hybrids such as Moby Dick.

19/06/2017

Comments from our readers

4 comments
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  1. 5 out of 5
    Thank you for all the moments that you have for this post
  2. 5 out of 5
    This is so well written. Thank you!
  3. 5 out of 5
    They have grown hemp in Indiana so long ditch weed now grows. Little thc in it. Figured these hemp populations worth mentioning too. As more hemp is being produced for textiles.

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