There is a big difference between the cannabis that was available in the 1960s and the cannabis you can get now. Up until the late 1970s, if you were smoking pot, you were likely smoking what was often referred to as “sativa.” These plants were tall, had narrow leaves, and produced wispy flowers. From its original home around India, this cannabis species moved east. It also made its way down the eastern coast of Africa and eventually hitched a ride to the Americas.
A landrace marijuana strain is one of these original strains, and they regularly carry the name of the place they were developed: Thai, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, etc. Over the generations, the growing practices and environments particular to each of those locations imparted unique characteristics to each strain’s appearance and chemistry—the fancy word for this is “terroir.”
Whereas sativa landrace strains moved across the globe, indica landraces were isolated in the arid, mountainous regions around Afghanistan and Pakistan. This cannabis is known for its broad leaves, short stature, 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.
What is a landrace strain and what makes it unique?
Landrace cannabis strains and landrace seeds have held a special place in the cannabis seed collections of old school connoisseurs and breeders. Landrace strains are the original genetic foundations of modern cannabis hybrids. They have evolved naturally over thousands (possibly millions) of years. They slowly adapted perfectly to the local environment, or terroir. This often shaped the properties and features of the various phenotypes in the landrace strains. How many cannabis landrace strains are there? It’s impossible to say, the illegality of cannabis meant that no official historical botanical records exist.
Landrace sativa strains that evolved in warm, tropical jungle environments may show different properties to landrace indica strains which evolved to survive more hostile and barren mountainous habitats. Some of these genetic features are useful to modern cannabis breeders who may want to amplify certain properties in order to create a new modern hybrid.
Many original landraces strains may have a clue to their country of genetic origin in the strain name, such as Durban Poison (Durban, South Africa), Malawi Gold, Thai, Afghani Kush, Mazar etc.
Are landrace strains still around?
It wasn’t until the late ‘70s that people decided to intentionally breed these two kinds of cannabis together. Eventually, breeders were able to produce offspring that consistently carried the desired characteristics from each type, and perhaps even more importantly, avoid unwanted characteristics that could weaken the plant’s health and production.
These hybrids have now taken over the cannabis market, and this, my ‘60s cannabis smoking friends, is the big difference between what you smoked then and what you smoke now: Today, you are smoking a hybrid of cannabis as opposed to a pure landrace strain.
Are landraces more potent than regular strains?
It really depends on the specific strain and where and how it was grown. If you get your hands on a true landrace, it will most likely be less potent than a strain you find today, as current strains have typically been bred for a higher potency.
Is it hard to find landrace strains?
Those landrace strains from the ‘60s are not grown on a large scale today, but there are a few that carry a big enough following to keep them available in our current market. These are commonly referred to as “heirloom” strains, and they are produced in small batches and carry genetics of the landrace, but lack the original terroir.
There might come a day when the world cannabis markets open up, giving us direct access to landrace strains from around the world, however, until that day, here are a few heirloom strains you can find in your local shop to hold you over.
How many landrace weed strains are there?
Where is landrace cannabis from? All modern cannabis strains evolved from the many hundreds of original landrace strains. In recent decades, cannabis breeders have bred extensively with original landrace strains in order to improve or amplify their best features.
This has resulted in most landrace strains being somewhat changed from their original pure genetic state. This will sound disappointing to the old school purists. But the breeding work was done for good reasons. Without it, many landrace strains would simply be rejected by modern growers for e.g. being low yielding or with low THC levels. Most of todays cannabis growers don’t mind the fact that landrace sativa seeds were crossed to create some modern sativa crosses with shorter bloom times than e.g. the original landrace Thai sativa.
Where to find landrace strains in the wild? Cannabis still grows in the wild in many tropical climates and mountainous areas. These are probably the best places to find landrace weed and landrace seeds.
If harvest yields/consistency of original landrace strains are improved and THC levels increased, the average indoor grower might consider that to be solid breeding progress. But original cannabis seed companies like Dutch Passion still retain collections of pure unadulterated landrace seeds for future generations.
Many cannabis lovers are torn between the romantic ideal of retaining all landrace strains in their original pure genetic form and the modern desire to maximise yields, taste & potency whilst minimising bloom times. Some growers assume that landrace strains are fundamentally superior to modern strains, yet it should be said that many landrace strains simply lack the cannabinoid content and other features (heavy yields, fast bloom times) that many modern growers consider mandatory.
Landrace cannabis seeds have a fond place in the heart of many cannabis growers. But it’s also fair to say that many of todays cannabis growers perhaps prefer the properties and features of modern cannabis seeds, which may contain landrace genetics. But the best contemporary cannabis seeds also tend to have many of the features demanded by modern growers such as fast bloom times, heavy harvests, high THC levels etc.
Where Have All The Pure Landrace Strains Gone?
You may be wondering why you haven’t heard about landrace strains before. Where have they all gone?
To answer both questions at the same time: the original landrace strains have been taken out of their native environment and endlessly crossbred with other varieties to produce something new.
When a landrace strain is removed from its indigenous environment (say, Pakistan) and forced to grow elsewhere (say, Mexico), it has to mature in different growing conditions. In response to those new growing conditions, the plant will exhibit new characteristics (e.g., smaller flowers, longer grow time, higher THC).
During that transition from indigenous environment to new growing conditions, some of the characteristics of the original plant will be lost. To get those characteristics back, you’d have to return the plant to its native environment.
Even then, the “purity” would be in question because you’ve grown a plant in a different location (Mexico) — producing slightly different characteristics — and then tried to return the seed to the place where its grandparent plant came from (Pakistan).
See how quickly things can get murky and diluted? It’s enough to make your head swim and your eyes go googly (even without taking a toke). That’s why we recommend not thinking about it too deeply.
It’s enough just to know that landrace strains exist. You don’t have to get intimate with the subject. Just give a polite ‘sup nod as you pass by on your way to the local dispensary for a dime bag of Yoda OG.
Should You Try A Landrace Strain?
Our answer to questions like these is usually a resounding, “Yes!”
There are a few times when we have to say no — like, should you make your own THC-O-Acetate or CO2 cannabis oil — but, for the most part, it never hurts to try.
That said, don’t cash in your life savings for the chance to puff a landrace strain. You’ll probably be disappointed. Modern strains are often better at producing the recreational or medicinal effects that you’re looking for.
Remember, landrace strains aren’t stronger, more potent, or better in some way. They’re just less diluted (genetically speaking) than other strains.
And, honestly, even that’s debatable given how much time has passed since the discovery of the original landrace strain and man’s tendency to crossbreed plants to make them grow “better.”
It’s good to know about landrace strains, but we seriously doubt they’re going to be the next big thing in cannabis consumption unless scientists find something in their DNA that cures cancer better than Rick Simpson oil or completely cures anxiety and depression.
You’re better off using organic, pesticide-free marijuana than spending your hard-earned money on something that claims to be a landrace strain.
For more information on all things marijuana and to check out our 100 percent all-natural cannabis products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.