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Cannabis Landrace Strains: What is it, and which ones can you try?

Cultivating cannabis has seen an enormous transformation over the last 50 years. If you are old enough to have smoked cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s, then you’ve likely smoked pure cannabis or original “landrace” strains. This cannabis came from more vigorous plants that always gave heavy yields.

The original Sativa is known to have had a tall stem, narrow leaves, and wispy flowers, a native to the Indian subcontinent. The original Indica, an authentic source of hash, has been known to have dense flowers, broad leaves, and short stems, native to the arid mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Some cannabis landrace strains hold legendary status. And while it might be hard to come across them or see them flowering, it’s not mission impossible. Although rare, some strains are still out there.

Why are landrace strains so unique?

Landraces represent pure cannabis in its most ancient forms, organically grown in the wilderness, evolving and growing over many centuries, if not millennia. Cannabis landrace strains contain more cannabinoids and terpenes, and their seeds and plants are known to generate bigger harvests.

What happened to landrace strains?

During the 1970s, people went on to knowingly breed different landrace strains together. The result was new strains that were eventually made to carry the most covet traits from each landrace strain. Beyond that, the process bred out undesired characteristics that affected the plant’s strength and/or potency.

cannabis landrace strains

Commercial strains circulating today’s market were derived from crossbreeding different landrace strains.
When cannabis companies began breeding commercial strains in the late 1970s, they did use landrace strains as the basis for breeding.

Landraces and heirlooms

If landrace is the weed that grows in nature without human intervention, such as the indica landrace strains of Asia, heirloom weed is grown from seeds that were picked from these strains and grown elsewhere. Away from the original terroir of the landrace.

What is terroir?

India, Pakistan, and South Africa are some of the countries where landrace marijuana strains originate from and whose strains have become extremely popular worldwide. Over time, the cultivating practices and environments specific to the country’s location passed on authentic traits to each strain, such as their composition, chemistry, resilience, or yield.

Cannabis landrace strains remained isolated in their original environments for centuries, and they are perfectly adapted to those conditions, i.e., terroirs. So, while it’s easy to take a seed from a landrace strain from India and plant it in Hawaii, it’s harder to replicate the exact Asian terroir into the Pacific island.

cannabis landrace strains

The genetic lineage of each hybrid available today can be traced to original landrace strains.

Are there any landrace strains still in circulation?

Whether you ask if the landrace strains from the 1960s are grown large-scale today, the short answer is no. There are only a few landrace strains that could be purchased today. Alternatively, you can look for strains that are closely related to original landrace strains.

Are landraces hard to find, and what is their potency?

Although they are grown outside their original terroir, heirlooms of landraces can still be purchased. They are cultivated in smaller amounts than other commercial strains, but they carry more or less the same genetics as landraces as they are direct descendants.

One of the factors that determine the strength and potency of the landrace strains is actually the terroir. When a landrace is grown into the original terroir where it adapted throughout hundreds of years, it’s less potent than a landrace brought to a new terroir.

Assume that heirlooms are bred for a higher potency than true landraces. Increasing the potency of any cannabis is often one of the most common human interventions when growing.

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