The oldest weed strains in the world are classified as ‘landraces’; a term used to describe a pure cannabis strain cultivated in its natural environment. Crucially, landrace strains have never been crossbred. As landraces have grown wild and indigenously for thousands of years with no variations from one plant to the next, they are incredibly consistent. Landrace strains also tend to be almost entirely Indica or Sativa.
Usually, landrace strains are named after their place of origin. Classic examples include Panama Red and Acapulco Gold. It is becoming harder to find true landraces for obvious reasons. Imagine taking Panama Red out of its natural environment and trying to grow it in California under different growing conditions in a new climate. Obviously, the strain will lose some of the traits that made it unique.
Different climates formed strains with different appearance and cannabinoid composition – although they are members of the same family and there is very little distinction between them from a botanical point of view.
Sativa and Indica evolved growing near water with lots of sunlight in temperate climates of the northern hemisphere. Sativa evolved in a warmer climate with long summers and a lot of sunlight, Indica is likely to have evolved in a mountainous region.
The cradle of Cannabis sativa landraces is Asia, Anatolia, and Northern Africa. These landraces tend to be much taller (up to 3-4 meters) and lankier than their Indica counterpart, with greater internodal spacing, and long, often airy, flower clusters and a significant stretch during their very long flowering period. The leafs are slender and exhibit deeply jagged serrations. The aroma of Sativa flowers is often described as fruity and floral. Cannabis sativa landraces have adapted to a life near the equator with longer summers and more intense sunlight and are not able to mature properly at even mild Northern or Southern latitudes. Some famous Sativa strains are Thai, Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison, and Panama Red.
Cannabis indica landraces were naturally developing in the mountain regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Indica landraces exhibit a much shorter (only up to 2 meters) and more compact stature and are more resinous than their Sativa cousins. Indicas finish their flowering earlier, showing only little stretch during their flowering period. The leafs of an Indica are broad and exhibit much less deeply jagged serrations. The flower clusters of an Indica plant are tightly packed and very dense. The aroma of Indica buds is often described as musky and earthy. The plants are well adapted to growing in mild Northern latitudes. Two of the most famous pure Indica strains are Hindu Kush and Afghani.
Eastern Europe, the Himalayas and Siberia are the roots of Cannabis ruderalis, the cannabis oddity. Cannabis ruderalis is not only the smallest member of the cannabis family, reaching heights of just 1 meter, but also the least potent when it comes to cannabinoids. Its most exceptional trait is its capability to start flowering without a change in the light levels, which is an adaptation to the harsh climates in extreme Northern and Southern latitudes. In these regions the summer days can be as long as 20 hours, but the season lasts for a very short time. Breeders cleverly harnessed this genetic trait to create the autoflowering strains we know today. With autoflowering plants it is possible to harvest a plant in as little as 60 days from germination, which allows for two or more harvests per season in temperate climates.
The 5 Ancient Strains of Marijuana
It is thought that Hindu Kush, Afghani, Thai, Aceh (Atjeh), and Nepalese are the oldest known cannabis strains with landrace traits. But it’s hard to know the true origin and the deep lineage of most cannabis strains of today. Their cultivation took place underground and wasn’t well-documented. The history of most modern cannabis strains doesn’t go any further back than the 60s.
During the 1970s and 80s, cannabis aficionados traveled the world and began collecting landrace strains to cultivate them in their own local gardens. These strains are called heirlooms and were then propagated in other environments like California and Europe.
This marijuana strain comes from the hills of Aceh, an Indonesian province. It is rather unfortunate then that Indonesia has one of the world’s strictest stances on the herb. The Indonesian government is cracking down on the cultivation and sale of weed, and place the plant on the same scale as heroin and meth.
The region was also the scene of a brutal massacre on May 3, 1999, when the military murdered more than 1,300 civilians. In 2005, Aceh saw more tragedy as 200,000 people died in a tsunami. The Aceh strain has survived all of this, and much more, and the pure sativa strain is a tall plant known for offering a feel-good smoke.
It isn’t the strongest strain with around just 10% THC, but it has a wonderful mango and tropical fruit taste. Aceh is a good option if you need an energy boost in the morning, but it isn’t potent enough to negatively impact your perception of things.
Contrary to the previous strain, Thai is a pure sativa. This means that it’ll give you an energetic, cerebral high that’s perfect for any wake and bake. Additionally, the effects are often uplifting and creative; if you’re struggling with an artistic block of sorts, a bowl of Thai will surely take you out of it. Overall, this is the perfect strain for the productive stoner. But don’t smoke it at night unless you’re planning an all-nighter.
We have a couple of great strains crafted from these legendary genetics. Thai Fantasy is very easy to grow outdoors, and will withstand harsh conditions due to its hardy and vigorous nature. AK-420 is a resilient, high-yielding specimen that is a great choice for any novice grower.
Any strain that grows in Nepal is known as a Nepalese strain. While most of the world has banned weed by the middle of the 20th century, Nepal held firm until the 1970s. Up until 1973, it was legal to smoke cannabis in Nepal, and it was easy to find a hashish shop. Sadly, the Nepalese government bowed to American pressure and began closing down stores and arresting growers.
However, to this day, Nepalese police officers often look the other way if they spot someone using marijuana on a small-time basis. Visitors to this beautiful region can avail of incredibly cheap marijuana. A tola (equivalent to 11 grams) is no more than $15! You can get a kilogram for a few hundred bucks, but at this point, you are risking serious prison time.
The original Nepalese landrace is a pure sativa and is rather potent with a THC content of up to 17%; although we have heard of tests where the level climbs to a very impressive 22%. It provides users with a euphoric high that stimulates the mind and makes you feel completely invigorated.
Eventually, the high impacts the body and alleviates stress. If you use too much Nepalese, you could become couch-locked. It has a sweet, citrus taste with powerful earthy flavors that hit the palate hard.
Although it is a pure sativa, Nepalese actually has an Indica structure. It is a sturdy plant with resinous buds that grows to a medium height. Indigenous Nepalese is grown at a high altitude, which can reach 3,000 meters! As a result, it stands strong against mold and cold temperatures.
Marijuana has been cultivated in Afghanistan for centuries and was only made illegal in 1957. Even then, the Afghan government was far from strict when applying the law. The Hippie Trail of the 1970s involved countless weed-loving tourists traveling to Afghanistan to sample potent cannabis.
The Afghani Landrace strain is 100% Indica and has a THC content of around 17%. It comes from the Hindu Kush mountain range within Afghanistan and has become the base strain for some of the world’s finest hybrids. Afghani offers a strong physical high that acts as a powerful sedative.
It is ideal for insomniacs as it makes sleep hard to resist, and you may also have a severe case of the munchies. Users often burst into fits of giggles. The sweet fragrance is matched by the taste, and you may also get a hint of pine, which is noticeable when you inhale. On the exhale, it is all about the sweet and spicy notes.
If you are looking to grow a unique strain, Afghani is a fabulous choice due to its stable genetics. Its flowering time is 7-8 weeks, and indoors users typically get 16 ounces per square meter planted. Its yield increases to 21 ounces when grown outdoors in a Mediterranean type climate.
This marijuana strain is regarded as one of the most important in weed’s history. This landrace was originally grown in the 800 kilometer stretch of the Hindu Kush mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a pure indica strain with a THC content of up to 20%.
If you are in the mood to relax, there are few better options than this strain. You will feel so chill that you won’t even feel the sleep coming. It is the perfect strain for the late evening when you are in dire need of rest. It will also provide you with happy vibes, so consider using it if your mood is low.
Like Afghani, Hindu Kush provides a sweet and spicy taste sensation and is a creamy smoke. You may also get hints of lemon and pine cone. This plant grows short and is easy to grow outdoors, as long as you live in a warm climate. Outdoors, the yield is approximately 16 ounces per plant. If you grow Hindu Kush indoors, the yield is about 14 ounces per square meter planted, and its flowering time is 7-8 weeks.
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