As cannabis becomes commoditized, the importance of original strains becomes more important. These are breeds that have developed in their indigenous environment over centuries. They are considered, in today’s parlance, “pure” or “original” sources of the plant. They are also referred to as “landrace” cannabis.

Landrace cannabis grows wild, although it is increasingly sought by specialist developers. Breeds can often be found from the Kush Mountain region of Afghanistan to the tropics of Thailand and Hawaii. Landrace strains are believed to have originated in Hindu Kush and Pakistan. They eventually spread to Asia, Africa, Jamaica, South America and Russia.

Obviously, these are remote places of the world. As a result, these genotypes are not found in more commercially produced cannabis. Not, that is, until those special qualities are bred into the same.

DNA strain hunter cannabis landrace India Pakistan Kush Afghanistan Africa Jamaica

WHY IS LANDRACE CANNABIS SPECIAL?

Landrace cannabis strains are important for one thing – genetics. They have been left to develop in a natural environment. They are also different from so-called “heirloom strains.” Heirloom strains are established by human cultivated crops. This includes strains native to South and Central America. It also includes strains descended from landrace cannabis. Angola Red, for example, an heirloom strain, was developed from a landrace breed found in Africa.

As a result, landrace cannabis strains have adapted naturally to survive their local conditions. They differ in leaf size, colour, and phytochemical production from heirloom crops.

One of the best-known landrace strains is called Cannabis ruderalis. Technically it is not really a “strain.” It is mostly referred to as a subspecies of Cannabis. In terms of characteristics and effects, it falls somewhere between sativa and indica. Ruderalis is native to cold, Russian climates with short growing seasons. As a result, these stubby plants have also developed the ability to flower automatically. In direct contrast, sativa and indica plants can only flower when exposed to the right kind of light. By crossbreeding this auto-breeding characteristic into either, breeders can use this genetic ability in other kinds of plants.

THE BACKBONE OF MODERN STRAINS

In essence, cannabis strains can be traced just like family trees. New strains can be created by the mating of a single male and female cannabis plant. They are mapped, in fact, just like human genetics. Landrace, cannabis, in other words, is the beginning of the cannabis family tree.
Landrace strains make up the genetic backbone of many well-known hybrids including Afghani, Hindu Kush, Durban Poison and Red Congolese. This is why their addition to new cultivation is so popular.

But in addition to this issue is the continually evolving nature of the cannabis plant. When landrace strains are moved and cultivated in different surroundings, they also begin to adapt. The plant itself will go through adoption of different characteristics as it changes. This means that “landrace” strains cultivated in different locations become something else.

sniper strain hunters cannabis strains landrace around the world

THE ETHICS OF LANDRACE SEEDS

Seed hunters have travelled the globe for decades in search of landrace strains. In the last few years, this practice has suddenly become more popular. Breeders from established companies usually fund these trips.

Landrace strains play an important part in commercial development of the future global industry. Collecting their seeds also help preserve natural biodiversity of the species.

However, the practice has begun to come under criticism. Some seed companies have subsequently swapped more modern, hybridized seeds with remote landrace cultivators. Introducing modern seeds into such environment then pollutes landrace genetics.

Ultimately, what this means is that seed hunters have a harder and harder task in front of them. Some breeders argue that many landrace strains have already disappeared or are endangered because of these practices.

The political issues around cannabis more generally have also led to destruction of landrace strains in the wild.

 

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