You might have already heard the term “landrace strain”, and if you are interested in the history of cannabis, after reading this article, you’ll have a general idea about how marijuana has evolved throughout millennia.
The archaeological evidence
Although you might think that weed became more widely used only in recent decades, in reality, people going as far back as several thousand years ago used cannabis for a variety of purposes. The scientists believe that hemp was one of the first plants to be cultivated. Although according to the current archaeological evidence, we can, without a doubt, tell that people smoked marijuana in China 2,500 years ago. Other, less clear pieces of evidence seem to suggest that humans have used cannabis as far as 10,000 years ago. Even then, cannabis had a variety of uses – it was cultivated for its fibers, as a source of food, but also for its psychoactive properties for the rituals and ceremonies. It is no wonder that early humans valued this plant, and when they moved to other places, they took the seeds with themselves. The strains that were associated with those regions became known as landrace strains.
The origins of cannabis
It seems that the cannabis first originated in Hindu Kush mountains, and later it spread to other parts of the world. Without human intervention, the plant would only be accessible in Central Asia, but due to its versatility, it appeared in other regions. Okay, so how did the landrace strains first appear? As people introduced cannabis from the Hindu Kush to the regions that varied profusely, with time, the strains that could be found in f.e. South Africa and the Middle East began to differ. What exactly were the differences? As a result of plants adapting to the local climate, soil, and a multitude of other factors, as time passed by, the differences became much more noticeable. The content of THC, CBD, and other compounds that are normally found in cannabis varied depending on where they came from. That’s not all – even a cultivation period of cannabis or the resistance to the environment varies in different strains. That’s why some of the strains became popular in specific regions – the plants were used to growing in similar conditions. You might think that weed is only about the THC and CBD, but actually, there are hundreds of different compounds found in weed, and the amounts of those varied depending on the region of origin. Throughout the time, the landrace strains became interbred with other strains of cannabis. As a result, finding landrace strains with undiluted DNA that haven’t been mixed with other cannabis strains might be an extremely difficult task. That’s because for the past 50 years, growers purposefully mixed various strains to achieve specific results.
Were original landrace strains better?
It might be impossible to find an original strain from the Hindu Kush, but it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with that – on the contrary! By mixing the cannabis species, the growers were able to ensure that strains of cannabis would have a particular effect on the users – be it sedative, energetic, or euphoric. At the same time, the landrace strains of the past weren’t as potent as the cannabis that currently is available on the market. Sure, you might feel the excitement in your search for landrace strains, but due to their place in history, and not because of their effects. The purer DNA of landrace strains means that the effects will be more similar to the cannabis strains that our ancestors have smoked, but if you are looking for potent weed, then you might be better off choosing mixed strains instead. Another issue with landrace strains is that although their names refer to a specific region, with time, the features that characterized this specific strain of weed might have disappeared or transformed entirely. Why? The original cannabis strain came from the Hindu Kush region, and later spread around the world. Some of the most popular known landrace strains are Panama Red, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, Lamb’s Bread, Mag Landrace and Pure Afghan. As a result of the change of the climate and other factors, the plant changed a little bit to acclimatize itself to the local conditions. Later, those plants were transported to another region, and they have adapted to local conditions once again. It means that the landrace strains to which we have access today might have purer DNA than other strains of cannabis, but they aren’t necessarily the same as the original landrace strains. It doesn’t mean, though, that it means that they are in any way worse. That’s the same as the debate about particular weed strains being pure indica or pure sativa.
Indica vs. sativa
Each strain has been mixed to a varying extent with other strains, which means that finding a pure indica or sativa is virtually impossible. It is usually the case that sativa plants are taller and have larger leaves and provide more energy, whereas indica plants are shorter and have sedative properties. Does it mean that it is possible to guess whether a cannabis strain is a sativa or indica based on its appearance or the effects? Not really. Sure, you will likely marijuana enthusiasts claiming that a particular strain of weed has the effects of pure sativa or indica, but if you analyze its lineage, you will discover that it’s much less clear. Even though initially landrace strains might have been either pure indica or sativa, the centuries of interbreeding have had its effects. If you visit a weed dispensary, some of the cannabis strains will undoubtedly be called sativa or indica; you might even learn about the exact percentage of each subspecies. Although it might not be close to the truth, it will actually be helpful. When you think of indica, most probably you don’t really care that much about its pure lineage, but rather you are interested in its effects. Because of the mixing of various strains, you might not get something similar to a landrace strain of yore, but trust us, it’s not a reason to be worried. Even if you do find a strain of ancient origin, perhaps not the original one from the Hindu Kush mountains, but a landrace strain, you might be disappointed by its effects.
The most popular landrace strains?
If you are a marijuana enthusiast, then you might want to try one of the landrace strains to check whether the legends are true. As we have stated before, you shouldn’t expect too much from this experience, though if you are a real connoisseur, then the effects are probably not all that you are after.
Durban Poison is a strain that was named after a city in South Africa. This landrace strain had been cultivated by South African tribes for many centuries before it arrived in the United States in the 1970s. According to the users, the original landrace strain had intensely energetic effects.
Swazi Gold is yet another landrace strain that originally came from an African continent. This sativa-dominant strain is famous for its resilience. It is no surprise, as in its place of origin, Swazi Gold had to adapt to hostile mountainous conditions. Unfortunately, although this strain might thrive in various conditions, the flowering time of this strain is pretty long – from 10 to 15 weeks, which means that all growers must be patient.
The users who have tried Swazi Gold report that it provides a euphoric and happy high. Although various phenotypes of Swazi Gold differ, you should expect the weed to be 14% to 18% THC, which means that it is unlikely that you’ll feel anxiety or paranoia. As a result, this strain is an excellent choice to deal with stress or depression. We recommend Swazi Gold for daytime use, as the fact that this is a sativa-dominant strain means that you’ll be full of energy
Acapulco Gold is a landrace strain that originated in Mexico. It became popular in the United States in 1960, as it was often smuggled through the Mexican border due to its superb quality. The pot users in America were impressed by its potency, though it is also important to note that this landrace strain requires similar conditions as the ones that can be found in Acapulco, which unfortunately means that growing it in a colder climate, f.e. in the northern United States wouldn’t be a great idea.
Colombian Gold is another landrace strain that was smuggled across the American border in the 1960s from Central America. Although it might be impossible to find this landrace strain anymore, you might encounter strains that were made by mixing Colombian Gold with others.