Why do landrace strains matter?

We’ve come a long way since the cultivation of cannabis began thousands of years ago.

The indica plant is believed to have originated in the Middle East, specifically the Hindu Kush mountain range that sprawls across Afghanistan, into northwestern Pakistan and southeastern Tajikistan.

The sativa plant owes its roots to Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos before ending up in Central America; thriving in warm, tropical climates.

Climate and location play an integral role as to why native cannabis plants thrive in certain parts of the world. Native plants evolved as a method of survival; developing traits that aided in withstanding the climate in which they originated. These are known as landrace strains; a cannabis plant that is purely an indica or a sativa, and native to the region in which it was cultivated.

Acapulco Gold, Hindu Kush and Durban Poison are examples of popular landrace strains; names that reflect their respective regions.

Cannabis strains were traded and crossbred, a catalyst in transforming the physical traits of a particular strain, along with its overall genetic code, known as a genotype. The result was a host of indica, sativa and hybrid strains, diverse in their observable properties, also known as phenotypes.

Because phenotypes are directly influenced by a genotype’s unique interaction with the environment that it exists within, strains moving out of their original climate allowed for these changes to take place.

Landrace strains offer a glimpse into cannabis’ history, one yet to be interfered with by human hands.

Unlike their modern predecessors, landrace strains are unique in terms of their genetic purity. And it’s this original genetic makeup that has allowed landrace strains to adapt to their environment, making it tricky for them to thrive elsewhere.

But stoners have always been creative. Old favorites were combined with each other, resulting in decades worth of new strains.

And with the widespread legalization of marijuana, a competitive market continues to gnaw at the simplistic, old-fashioned side of cannabis; growers must place a heavy focus on taste, potency and bloom time.

True landrace strains have now become rare in the modern market, despite their being the foundation of all the strains we know and love today.

However, whether it’s a yearning driven by nostalgia, respect for the science, or a combination of the two, there seems to be an emerging desire to return to the basics of cannabis; particularly when it comes to land-race strains.

For one, cultivators and breeders must understand the importance in knowing the strain’s origins to create a new strain. This is because relying on copies of copies of a plant results in poor genetics. Clean genetics must be accessible, just in case a grower must restart the entire process.

Similarly, landrace strains are an integral aspect of growing new hybrid plants. Cultivators can focus on sourcing the genetics they want, using indoor greenhouses to create an environment that allows for a surplus of strains to thrive, regardless of location.

Clearly, the cannabis world shows no signs of slowing down. If you’re like me, the thought of trying a true landrace strain is enough to make the mouth water. And so, the thought of these classic genetics making their way back into the modern market is equally as delicious.