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pure landrace marijuana seeds

Pure or landrace cannabis seeds

Landrace or pure strains are those cannabis varieties that are native to a specific area and have been adapted generation after generation to the conditions of that area and remained isolated from other varieties, keeping their genotype unaltered.

Cannabis is an ancient plant – probably originating from the Himalayas – that has been cultivated by humans for millennia, either for its recreational virtues, for its well-known and documented medicinal properties or for the multitude of industrial uses (including food) that he has. Over the centuries, it has been adapting to cultivation according to latitude and to different climates across the world, especially in the intertropical zone and in many of the temperate parts of the globe.

Cannabis a traditional crop in many parts of the world

This has allowed different patterns of adaptation in each zone, giving rise to a good number of pure varieties from each region where cannabis has traditionally been cultivated (or where it has grown untouched in the wild). Each of these varieties thus has a series of specific traits that have been fixed year after year in the offspring of each generation, and since they have not been crossed with any other plant of a different genotype, they remain very homogeneous in this sense, with a great stability between individuals, showing very similar traits among themselves when compared with pure varieties from other areas. So great is the power of adaptation, as we could see with our Early Maroc, that in some areas clear differences in genotype can be observed between varieties grown just a few kilometres away from each other, but that are subject to different environmental conditions.

However, it can be said that pure varieties have a high degree of heterogeneity because they are usually open pollinations in large fields, where a large number of males pollinate an equal or greater number of females. In this sense, the genotype remains very open, much more than in the case of only using a few males, there being greater heterozygosity in the genes (which in turn gives them greater capacity for adaptation).

Growing landraces

So logically among pure varieties we can find wild genetics, which have been reproducing naturally for centuries without any kind of care or selection from the hand of man, as well as domesticated varieties. The latter usually come from wild genetics that at some point have been intentionally reproduced through – more or less advanced – selective breeding techniques by the grower, who harvest after harvest has been selecting away from undesirable traits, but at the same time keeping the genotype pure, only crossed to itself. In many places, this selection has been made based on obtaining plants with high resin production, since most of the harvest goes to the extraction of resin such as hashish or charas.

Cannabis grown traditionally in Parvati Valley, India

Because in many of the areas where pure varieties are grown, wild cannabis is also found, there’s always the risk of accidental cross-pollination, no matter how slight, so that sometimes, in case of having wild plants nearby, the quality and homogeneity of the cultivated variety can be seriously compromised. However, new genes are sometimes introduced into a pure variety to avoid genetic depression or the negative consequences of inbreeding, although varieties with very similar traits are often chosen and this usually only happens in populations of relatively small plants.

As a general rule, pure varieties are divided into two large groups, Indicas and Sativas. Indicas originate from mountainous areas with colder climates than the Sativas, and have a more compact and bushy growth pattern, with a heavy trichome production and broad leaves. They are usually medium height with solid, rock-hard buds. The effect is usually narcotic and sedative, very suitable for those seeking relaxation. Clear examples would be the varieties from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

In contrast, Sativas come from areas with tropical climates and abundant rainfall. Its structure is slender and flexible, reaching heights much higher than the Indicas. Its long branches produce leaves with very narrow leaflets and loose, airy buds with long pistils, which often give off aromas of wood and citrus. The trichomes are usually smaller than in the case of Indicas. Their effect is stimulating and cerebral, highly appreciated by daytime smokers. We can find Sativas in many places in the world, such as Asia (India, Nepal, Thailand, etc), Central America or Africa.

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Sativa on the left. Indica on the right. The difference is self-evident.

Here we should mention Ruderalis genetics, from eastern Europe and from which the automatic varieties have been developed. However, it’s very rare to see crops of Ruderalis varieties, and most of these plants grow wild and are not usually cultivated by local inhabitants.

When cultivating pure varieties we must take into account that they aren’t usually adapted to indoor cultivation, so are normally only grown outdoors. In addition, they are usually accustomed to soils that are relatively poor in nutrients and, especially in the case of Indicas, to rather dry substrates.

Modern hybrids and pure varieties

Modern commercial hybrids (or polyhybrid) are often crosses of hybrids developed during the 60s and 70s, mostly in the US and by underground breeders. These early hybrids were developed from the seeds that many hippies and backpackers brought home from their exotic trips through the traditionally producing countries, varieties that were cultivated, adapted and crossed with each other. As a result, the first crosses between different genotypes were obtained, the first cannabis hybrids, which soon adapted to growing indoors under grow lamps.

This adaptation was perhaps simpler than that of the pure varieties partly due to something called hybrid vigour. Hybrid vigour – also called the heterozygote advantage – is a characteristic presented by offspring of a hybrid between two different varieties, whereby they show greater vegetative vigour, greater root growth, flower and resin production, etc. In short, thanks to exogamy, better individuals are obtained than those used as the male and female parents.

Black Bomb is a hybrid with clear Indica dominance

Over the years, these first cannabis hybrids have been used to create the infinity of genetics present on the market today, or have been crossed again with other landraces, as is the case with our Philo Skunk (Somango x Mazar) or our Jamaican Blueberry BX. However, the origins of all varieties of cannabis are in the old pure varieties, which in many cases are still cultivated in the same way and in the same areas as hundreds of years ago. In addition, and because of the constant selective breeding on the part of modern breeders, the genetic range of today’s hybrids is quite narrow, especially when compared to the great genetic richness of pure varieties.

Another aspect to take into account is the constant adaptation of these varieties; During the last decades it’s common to cultivate genetics from, for example, Afghanistan in countries like Spain. Since the environment (climatic conditions, soil, etc.) is very different, it’s to be expected that within a few generations this variety will show slight changes in its morphological expression, aimed at adapting to these new conditions. Therefore, good landrace breeders will cultivate varieties either in climates similar to those of their origin or directly in the places where each variety is from (which obviously complicates things somewhat). In addition, the breeder must decide if he wants to adapt the pure variety – naturally adapted to the outdoor growing – to indoor cultivation or not, something that in some cases can be almost impossible.

Fruity Jack, a predominantly Sativa hybrid

Pure Cannabis varieties

Pure varieties usually include the area or country from which they originate in their name. Let’s see below some of the most popular:

  • Afghanistan: Afghani, Hindu Kush, Mazar-I-Sharif, Lashkar Gah
  • India: Malana, Parvati, Kerala
  • Indonesia: Aceh
  • Thailand: HighThai, Chocolate Thai
  • Africa: Malawi Gold, Durban Poison, Swazi Gold, Kilimanjaro, Rooibaard
  • Colombia: Punto Rojo, Colombian Gold
  • Mexico: Oaxaca, Acapulco Gold
  • Panama: Panama Red
  • Jamaica: Jamaican Lambsbread, Jamaican Kingsbread
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Of course, there are many other pure varieties, although some of the most famous ones are difficult to find today due to the increases in cultivation of modern hybrids in these traditional producing countries. Fortunately, a good number of enthusiasts from all over the world continue to reproduce and work on many of these pure genetic lines, which are the foundations supporting the rest of the genetics that we know!

Comments in “Pure or landrace cannabis seeds” (1)

Kidete 2020-05-26
Hey, thanks for this post. There’s been a small debate as to whether Jamaica’s Lambs Bread is mistaken for Ethiopia’s Shashamane sativa mainly because Emperor Haille Selassie allowed Rastafarians to settle in the central highlands of Shashamane. Can I share the article?

About this Cannabis Blog

This is the blog of the seed bank Philosopher Seeds. It is intended for the use of adults over the age of 18 years.

You’ll find information on homegrowing cannabis, tips, tricks and news from the cannabis sector.

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Top 5 Landrace Strains from Southern Africa

Landrace weed strains are a rare find, and sought after for cannabis cultivators across the globe, and they are responsible for some of the most exceptional sativa dominant and indica dominant hybrids.

Southern Africa, and the African continent, are home to some of the most interesting and renowned landrace strains, but the truth is that regions within Southern Africa do not have provisions in place to protect the intellectual property of our growing communities.

What is a landrace strain?

The term landrace strain refers to cannabis/weed strains that occur naturally in the wild, and are usually limited to specific regions of the world.

Landraces are the foundation for some of the world’s most loved hybrid weed strains, like girl scout cookies, which is a result of crossbreeding the famous South African strain Durban Poison and O.G Kush.

Landrace strains have unique visual characteristics, structures, cannabinoids and much more, and cultivators need the strongest phenotypes hunted from within each strain in order to crossbreed and produce award winning strains with incredible medicinal benefits and recreational value.

1. Durban Poison

Durban Poison is an internationally acclaimed cannabis strain, and is a pure sativa landrace strain that originates from Durban, in South Africa.

This renowned strain has adapted to a wide variety of growing conditions, and prefers an outdoor climate where its branches can stretch (as it is a pure sativa) and plants can reach their full potential.

Durban Poison can tower as high as 12 feet, and in most cases outdoor growers can expect their Durban Poison plants to be over 7 feet tall .

Durban Poison plants yield buds with a tapered shape but a dense structure and provide an average THC percentage of between 15-25%. This South African strain provides a clear, focused cerebral high which stimulates motivation, creativity and eliminates couchlock.

Durban Poison has a crisp aroma profile consisting of sweet and citrusy notes, with hints of lemon, and produces a great resin yield, making it ideal for shatter and wax applications. It is high in THCv , which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s neuroprotective which means that it protects the nervous system.

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Pure landrace marijuana seeds

The Strain Hunters Documentary Series

  1. Strain Hunters India Expedition
  2. Strain Hunters Morocco Expedition
  3. Strain Hunters Swaziland Expedition
  4. Strain Hunters Africa Expedition (5 parts)

The Strain Hunters

The Strain Hunters are a group of cannabis researchers led, in part by Arjan Roskam of Green House Coffeehouse & Seed Company in Amsterdam and Franco Loja. This group went to extraordinary lengths to locate and procure rare and original landrace cannabis strains in order to keep them alive. The group has gone on dangerous expeditions across the globe; through the Taliban in Afghanistan to the FARC in Colombia, as well as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.

How It Started
In 1982 Arjan Roskam was hiking through the mountains in Thailand and found an old village where a man was treating people addicted to opiates. Instead of traditional medicine, the man was using marijuana. Arjan stayed a week and learned much about cannabis and its medicinal benefits. Upon leaving, he was given a handful of cannabis seeds.

Arjan’s mission was to grow the best cannabis possible. He was given more seeds from friends, then eventually he started going on precarious adventures in search of landstrains.

One of the original Strain Hunters, Franco Loja dedicated his life’s work to Cannabis research. In 2017, while researching the benefits of CBD for patients with malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he contracted the disease himself, and died at the age of 42.

From their adventures came a documentary series “Strain Hunters”, aimed at informing the public about the quest for the preservation of the cannabis plant in the form of particularly vulnerable landraces originating in the poorest areas of the planet.

What are Strain Hunters?
Strain Hunters identify, locate and retrieve cannabis landraces that have not yet been studied, in order to give scientists and doctors the possibility to further enhance knowledge of the cannabis plant in the medicinal field. Many previously unknown cannabinoid profiles are contained in cannabis landraces originating from areas where there is no possibility of scientific research.

What is a cannabis landrace strain?
Cannabis from the 60’s and 70’s was quite different than what you can get now. “Pot” as it was known then, was often referred to as “sativa” and originated around India. Sativa is characterized by tall height, narrow leaves, and produced wispy flowers. Over time this strain was found along the eastern coast of Africa and eventually to America.

A landrace cannabis strain is one of those original strains, and they regularly carry the name of the place they were developed: Acapulco Gold, Thai, etc.

Over the generations, the growing practices and environments in those locations passed on unique characteristics to each strain’s appearance and chemistry. Termed “terroir” – where the plant was grown, who grew it, how and when it was grown, and even to a certain extent why.

Sativa landrace strains moved across the globe while Indica landraces were isolated in dry mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indica cannabis is characterized by its broad leaves, short height, dense flowers, and the hash that is created from its flowers. These strains also carry the names of places they were developed: Afghani, Hindu Kush, etc.

In the late ‘70s people started to breed Indica and Sativa together to produce offspring that consistently carried the desired characteristics from each type, and avoid unwanted characteristics that could weaken the plant’s health and production.

These Hybrids have now taken over the cannabis market and today, you are smoking a hybrid of cannabis as opposed to a pure landrace strain. A true landrace strain will likely be less potent than a strain you find today, as they are typically bred for higher potency.

The original landrace strains are now commonly referred to as “heirloom” strains, and they are produced in small batches and carry genetics of the landrace, but lack the original terroir.