Rediscovering Roots: Profile on Landrace Cannabis Strains
What are Landrace Cannabis Strains and Why Are They Important?
It’s theorized that there are over 700 cultivars or “cultivated varieties” (often called “strains”) of cannabis.
This vast variety of cultivar choices that are available to medical cannabis patients is a result of talented cannabis geneticists breeding different strains together. Cannabis breeders will often create new cultivars with the goal of enhancing a certain characteristic of a plant, combining certain plant traits into a new cultivar, or creating a cultivar with new and unique characteristics altogether.
Medical cannabis patients, whether they choose to grow their own plants or not, may have heard of some cannabis products referred to as “landrace” strains. What does “landrace” mean? Why are landrace strains important? Most importantly, how can landrace plants benefit the medical cannabis patient?
In this article, we will take a look into why landrace cannabis strains hold an important part in cannabis breeding, culture, and medicine and provide some examples of popular landrace strains that can be found by medical patients who have their medical cannabis card.
What Does Landrace Mean?
Landrace strains represent cannabis plants that have organically evolved in distinct global regions. Growing wild but then domesticated in their respective geographic areas, these strains have acclimated to the conditions of their natural environment across generations, giving rise to distinctive genetic compositions and traits.
Compared to hybrid or commercially altered strains that have been bred or crossbred to create something new, landrace strains have retained a purity that has been largely undisturbed by human influence. In other words, landrace strains are the “original strains” from which all other cultivars that cannabis consumers enjoy are bred. They are cannabis plants in their wild, natural, and pure form. Landrace cannabis is not referred to as “cultivars” or “cultivated varieties” because they have not been bred through genetics.
The most common landrace strains of cannabis are found in Africa, East and Central Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, with Africa being one of the continents where a vast portion of landrace strains originate. Some of the most revered cannabis breeders and cultivators are responsible for bringing many of the landrace strains to North America and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, securing their status in cannabis culture and medicine as the legal industry continues to grow.
Why are Landrace Strains Important?
Landrace strains are celebrated for their unaltered genetic makeup, strength, and robustness, and most importantly, they serve as fundamental building blocks for the development of contemporary and new cultivars.
In genetics and breeding, purity is an important factor in creating good genetics, which is why landrace strains are so revered among the cannabis community. Breeding with a landrace strain is considered as going back to the original source for genetics.
Purity of genetics generally equates to a higher quality of plant. When a cultivar gets further from its original genetics, quality is compromised in terms of the traits and characteristics a plant possesses; the genetics essentially become a copy of a copy of a copy. This quality and genetic purity can be seen in various plant factors such as taste, aroma, visual appeal, and psychoactive and medicinal effects. Landrace cannabis strains are often regarded for their earthy aroma and herbal flavor.
One of the key factors in cultivating cannabis with landrace genetics is that the growing environment must be replicated as close as possible to its original environment due to the strain having naturally evolved within the original environment in which it was grown.
What are Some Common Landrace Strains?
Those who get their medical cannabis card will likely be able to find original landrace strains in their local dispensary, as many cannabis cultivators have worked hard to stay true to cannabis’ history and origins by continuing on the cultivation of these indigenous varieties of cannabis.
Here are some popular and well-known landrace cannabis strains along with their attributes that will be of interest to a medical cannabis patient:
For medical cannabis patients who look for strong sedative effects in their medicine, Hindu Kush, sometimes known as Hindi Kush, is the purest of indica strains. It originates in the area known as the Hindu Kush Mountain Chain on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Hindu Kush is regarded for its large green buds that often have a sticky consistency. It’s believed that this strain was among the first to create hash due to its high levels of resin and robust trichomes.
Hindu Kush often gives off a musky yet sweet aroma with an herbal flavor.
As a medical cannabis patient, if you are looking for something to give you that feeling of “couchlock”, or not being able (or willing) to move, Hindu Kush is the strain for that. It is often accompanied by mental fogginess and it’s not often recommended for daytime use due to its sedative effects.
Medical cannabis patients turn to Hindu Kush for its ability to relieve pain and nausea, induce sleep, and reduce feelings of anxiety when taken in smaller doses. However, it may also increase anxiety if consumed in high amounts.
Durban Poison is a pure sativa strain that originates on the continent of Africa, most commonly associated with the country of South Africa, as indicated by its name honoring the country’s second largest city. It made its way to North America in the 1970s by revered American breeder Ed Rosenthal.
The buds of Durban Poison are often long and tapered and are of medium to large size. They are often a bright forest green with plenty of “orange hairs” or pistils, which catch pollen from male fertilizing plants. To the nose, Durban Poison presents hints of the smell of licorice, and when smoked may give off flavors of pine.
Often high in THC, ranging anywhere from 15%-25%, Durban Poison provides a strong psychoactive effect that feels more focused and energizing. It’s a great match for those days when you need to get stuff done, as it won’t have you wanting to sink into the couch.
Medical cannabis users often turn to Durban Poison as a means to reduce feelings of depression or anxiety, or relieve symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, since Durban Poison is known for a more cerebral and intense “head high” rather than a “body high”, some warn that the mind can race if too much is ingested, which is why it’s important to find the sweet spot with this classic strain.
One of the most recognizable strains, Afghan Kush originates in the Middle East in the Amu Darya River Valley along the border of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Afghan Kush is often characterized by sturdy branches and broad leaves with large, resinous buds that boast an abundance of trichomes and orange pistils.
The aroma of Afghan Kush can be described as fruity, piney, funky, herbal, yet mild all at once with hints of fruitiness running over the palate when exhaled. Afghan Kush is regarded as one of the best plants for extraction into concentrates for its ability to retain cannabinoids and presents a high level of CBD. It also contains CBN at smaller levels.
Medical cannabis users will choose Afghan Kush when they want something that is sedating, with many saying its great for relieving pain, particularly the pain associated with migraines. It also helps elevate the mood while reducing depression and stress.
Acapulco Gold, as its name suggests, comes out of Acapulco, Mexico, although the exact origins of the strain are unknown as it has grown wild in Latin America for centuries. It is an 80% sativa-dominant landrace strain.
The strain is known for its earthy aroma and its spicy yet sweet flavor with hints of chestnut. The buds of Acapulco Gold are often admired for their abundance of robust white trichomes.
The effects can be described as having a combination of an energizing cerebral high and a relaxing body high, providing feelings of happiness and relaxation in good measure.
Medical cannabis patients often like Acapulco Gold because of its euphoric effects, often helping to relieve pain and anxiety. It’s often known to produce dry mouth, and if taken in too high of quantity, may produce feelings of paranoia, so it’s always recommended to start low and go slow with this strain of landrace cannabis.
Colombian Gold is a sativa-dominant landrace strain that originates from the Santa Maria Mountains of Colombia and is often regarded as the “gold standard” in landrace strains. It provides the foundation for the “Skunk” strains that we enjoy today.
The flavor and aroma of Colombian Gold can be described as limey, spicey, and skunky. The buds often appear in a pale green color with an abundance of white trichomes that may have a yellowish tinge.
Up to 75% sativa, Colombian Gold is revered for its ability to provide focus, motivation, and that get-up-and-go that medical cannabis patients may need sometimes on days when medical challenges are more acute.
While Colombian Gold isn’t known for being particularly high in THC, it is high in terpenes such as limonene, myrcene, and beta-caryophyllene, which when combined with THC enacts the entourage effect in its finest display to create those energizing, focused feelings.
Explore the “OGs” of Cannabis with Landrace Strains
Landrace cannabis plays an important role in cannabis history and why the plant is known to produce so many vast medical and therapeutic effects. Landrace strains like the ones we mentioned above are cannabis in its purest form and are an integral part of why medical cannabis patients are able to access and experience such a wide variety of genetics and cultivars today.
Begin the process of getting your medical cannabis card with Compassionate Clinics of America to begin to discover the power and purity of landrace strains at your local dispensary. Compassionate Clinics of America works with medical cannabis patients at every stage of getting their medical cannabis card, providing advanced education along their journey to enlighten patients on the capabilities of cannabis to re-imagine health and wellness.