Landraces: What the origin of your cannabis says

Although landrace seems just another one of those terms that are difficult to understand and speak in English, it is very important for cannabis culture. Here, we explain why.

Landrace is a mixture of two terms in English: race is the species of the plant, and land is the territory where it originated and was originally cultivated. And although the word appears a lot around, many do not know what it is about. We can say that it is of crucial importance – both to understand more about the origin of each strain and the conditions under which it grew. Quite simply: landraces are genetics that have developed and adapted in a specific environment.  They do not have the human touch at its breeding processes, they are like heirloom seeds – growing under the severe sieve of natural selection.

If you are one of those people who love to know more about the history of this amazing herb, this text will be perfect for you!  Here, we will tell you more about what landraces are, what are the main species, and how they have remained since the first steps of the relationship between cannabis with humans until today. So, let’s go!

Alice in Morocco

 What are landraces?

To better understand the theme, a little historical context is needed. The origin of the relationship between cannabis plants and humans goes back to antiquity, and the first evidence of the use of the herb – either in religious rituals or for pure pleasure – was found in Asia.  Outside Central Asia, all landrace strains are the result of wild cultivars, selectively cultivated by humans, which have gradually adapted to the environment over time.

“Landraces are the original strains, which arose before professional cultivation, and developed based on the characteristics of your region.”

Along the way, other newer crops would have crossed with these wild species. Even within the prehistoric range of Central Asia, wild domesticated cannabis is suspected to have interbred with their ancestors, making the current existence of an “original” strain unlikely.

They are historically and genetically essential for understanding the world’s relationship with cannabis and the cultures in which it has always been present. These species were shaped by the hands of Mother Nature herself, and are the origins of the countless varieties that we currently find in dispensaries. As they are species with 100% natural cultivation, they are almost always purely Indica or Sativa – a hybrid landrace is rarely found.

Main landraces we know:

  • Hindu Kush: Hindu Kush is a pure Indica variety, whose name derives from the mountain range that extends 800 kilometers between Pakistan and Afghanistan, from where it originated.  The harsh climate of his homeland has conditioned this variety to express a thick and protective layer of crystal trichomes – appreciated by hash makers around the world.

  • Afghani: is a species of heavy indica, named after its geographical origin, where the first varieties of cannabis are believed to have grown.  Growers around the world have come to value it for its heavy production of resin, which is transmitted genetically.

  • Colombia Gold: This landrace sativa comes from the mountains of Santa Marta, Colombia.  Its buds are soft and covered with crystals, radiating soft notes of lemon and lime.  He was the father of the famous Skunk # 1, a hybrid that has become a staple in marijuana growing.  For this reason, it is famous not only here in South America, but worldwide.

  • Thai: cannabis variety that grows natively in Thailand.  This pure sativa breed is sometimes called “Thai sticks”, or “Thai sticks”, due to the way its buds are traditionally dried and tied to long sticks.  Thai gave rise to many strains that we normally see on the market today, including Voodoo, Juicy Fruit and the classic Haze.

  • Manga Rosa: a strain that, like Girls In Green, is 100% Brazilian.  It is believed that the first seeds of the herb to arrive here were brought by slaves, between the years 1500 and 1700. As the climate of our lands is very favorable for planting and the climate similar to where they came from, these seeds of  cannabis thrived.  The most famous landrace in Brazil is the Manga Rosa, which has this name due to the homonymous fruit, and appeared on northeastern soil.

Morocco cannabis cultivation

Its importance to the cannabis community

In addition to being the beginning of everything, landraces are an expression of the place where they were born.  Those from Asia and the Middle East, for example, gave rise to charas – a type of hashish made by rubbing the flowers and trichome parts with your hands.  Because they are pure Indica or Sativa, they maintain different and practically unique characteristics in the modern setting – and that is why they are so valued today. Hashishes from the Himalayan mountains or the famous hash from the Manali mountains, for example, are highly sought after items not only for their properties, but for the fact that they are traditional – grown in those special lands with specific climate. It is an appellation of origin.

While in the modern strains the breeder controlled everything and defined the desired traits, in the landraces, the land itself did this. And that is highly valued – even more by those who see cannabis as something spiritual and cultural (all respect for breeders, people who work with the selection of characteristics in the different varieties of cannabis)!

The difficulty of maintaining landraces

Although so important, landraces are difficult to maintain today, when there are thousands of different strains. This is because, when they are in the same territory as others, they can go through the process of cross-pollination, which alters their genetics. For this reason, they suffer a great danger of extinction.

Morocco’s dry sift

Last year, we, from Girls in Green, had the opportunity to get to know Jamaica and learn a little more about its original species. And one of the facts that caught our attention was precisely this theme: how, after the arrival of several American strains on Jamaican soil, it became more difficult to have control of this pure genetics. This happens not only in Jamaica, but in other countries like Morocco. Nowadays it is common to go in the mountains of Morocco and find countless American strains growing there.

Another major risk for landraces is the war on drugs. Prohibitionism devastates ancient plantations and species, putting biodiversity at risk and our ability, through studies and research, to understand more about the native genetics of each location.

So, did you like to know a little more about the wonderful landraces? Now, the next time you enjoy a Manga Rosa or a Colombia, think that you are admiring a work done by nature, in its smallest details. It’s too much love!

 Have any questions? Leave your comment below.


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