“Ever since the first human being gazed upon the magnificence that is marijuana, we have been infatuated with domesticating and reproducing the effects of natural propagation to yield higher amounts of cannabinoids. While planting a seed in the ground may seem easy at first, pH balances, nutrient regimens, watering schedules, light cycles, and other yield mitigating factors can actually create a convoluted, complex, and rather scientific endeavor. Therefore, Growing Green is a category dedicated to unraveling these tortuous obstacles to provide you with thriving and sprouting success as you proliferate pot.”
While many simply refer to cannabis as marijuana or pot, connoisseurs tend to break it up into four distinctive categories including cannabis sativa, indica, ruderalis, and afghanica. In fact, George Van Patten, also known by his pseudonym Jorge Cervantes as a writer at High Times magazine, advocated for these divisions in strain types in his book Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible. According to Cervantes and other leading experts, each strain is genetically different and varies in a multitude of features and facets such as the size of their leaves, the maximum height they grow to, their chemical distribution, and even their color, among other multifarious characteristics. Especially, as cannabis is just now coming under the study of professional horticulturalists, botanists, and biologists, we are beginning to understand the inherent similarities and dissimilarities between these strain types, allowing us to differentiate them into separate categories capable of being judged and distinguished. For those who are aware of these strain types, which strain type is your personal preference or favorite? For others, read on to learn about the strain types, so you too can be a cognoscente of cannabis.
Technically, all cannabis is labeled within binomial nomenclature as C. Sativa, with the strain type acting as a variant or cultivar. For example, C. sativa var. sativa, indica, ruderalis, or afghanica. However, for now we will curbside the naming discombobulation to focus on the strain types. Cannabis sativa plants grow extremely tall in a short period of time, sometimes reaching heights well over 15 feet, which creates a light green, leggy appearance and airy buds. In order to support their height, they grow sprawling root systems expanding as far as their reach will allow. Also called “rope,” the sheer size of sativas offer a lot of fibrous material formulating a functional and perfect industrial hemp. Their leaves are long and thin, called “fingers,” exhibiting the style of the stereotypical marijuana leaf symbol. As for the effects, they typically have a higher concentration of THC in comparison to CBD, which makes for a soaring, energetic, and heady daytime high. When smoked, sativas are sweet to the taste. One of the most diverse strain types of them all, sativa originated all over the world being domesticated in Asia, the Americas, and Africa. AK47, Durban Poison, Maui Waui, and Sour Diesel (pictured above) are just a few of the most popular sativa strains.
In comparison to cannabis sativa, cannabis indica is essentially the complete opposite. Cannabis indica maintains a small stature, featuring deep green, broad leaves, densely packed bud structures, and a tightly wound root system. If put under cold conditions during the night time, the leaves are known to change to a purple hue due to a defensive mechanism present in the plant. While cannabis sativa is large and takes a long time to reach harvest, cannabis indica offers a great indoor growing alternative due to its small size and early harvest time. Usually, cannabis indica strains have a higher ratio of CBD (Cannabidiol) to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which produces a stoney, heavy, couch-locking, and sometimes incapacitating high. Many people describe the taste of indicas to resemble the thickness of skunk, although there are some fruity strains. Primarily, cannabis indica emerged from the region of Pakistan and India, bringing along strains such as Blueberry, Cheese, G13, Northern Lights, and Purple Urkel (pictured above).
Although the origins of cannabis ruderalis are disputed between Canada, Central Europe, Kazakhstan, Minnesota, and Russia, it popped onto the scene in the late 1980s as a breeder’s dream strain type. Cannabis ruderalis are small marijuana plants capable of being planted from seed and harvested within 60 days. Also referred to as autoflowers, cannabis ruderalis strains have the ability to go through the flowering cycle underneath any light schedule or photoperiod, making them expedient, simple, and accessible to even the most novice of growers. In addition, they are fantastically disease and pest resistant. As far as characteristics are concerned, they are short and stumpy, much smaller than any other strain type. They have broad leaves, but they are not nearly as large as afghanica or indica leaves. Rather than seeking side bud formations, sometimes entitled “popcorn” buds, many growers specifically grow one massive cola, or bud extending up to the top of the singular apical meristem. While ruderalis strains do not yield copious amounts in comparison to other strain types, their quick cycle allows for breeders to easily grow for the purpose of crossing strains. For recreation, ruderalis does not yield high amounts of THC or CBD, but breeding has increased these levels over time making it more suitable for smoking. Featured above is one of the more prolific ruderalis strains called Lowryder.
Found in the geographical region of Afghanistan, the appropriately named cannabis afghanica resembles indica due to its dark-green, broad leaves and its inability to grow greater than six feet tall. In fact, many aficionados lump afghanica in with indica for this reason, but if one scrutinizes afghanica closely the leaves are much wider and shorter than indica strains. If anything, afghanica is the extreme expression of the attributes of indica, especially as the cannabinoid content is exponentially greater. One example of afghanica is The Flying Dutchman above, but Afghani is also another well-known strain.