Though you’re probably familiar with the indica and sativa subspecies of marijuana, did you know there’s another major one?

Cannabis ruderalis, a relatively common third member of the cannabis family, typically grows wild in regions where hemp cultivation once thrived. The subspecies is most prevalent in parts of Russia and Asia where cold winter climates prevail, where the plant adapted to survive with varying amounts of light. The root word ruderal refers to plants that are the first to grow in areas that have been disturbed, whether from human irrigation or natural disasters like earthquakes or floods, etc. Ruderal’s Latin origin comes from the word rudus, which means rubble (think of the little weeds that pop their heads up through the cracks in your driveway).

 

Photo Courtesy of hashmuseum.com

The cannabis ruderalis subspecies started growing in areas that had been previously used for hemp cultivation, adapting to a point where they were self-sustaining and auto flowering, which is what truly distinguishes this plant from its indica and sativa siblings.

For many generations, growers have attempted to cross-breed their indica and sativa plants with ruderalis in the hopes of picking up the auto-flowering traits of the wildly free plant. Whereas indica and sativa plants start to flower and produce buds based on the photoperiod, or amount of light they’re consuming per day, the ruderalis subspecies will typically flower between 21 and 30 days after planting, regardless of light exposure. The consistency and self-sustainability of ruderalis are invaluable to growers, especially those with large scale grows. With an auto-flowering crop, farmers would require far fewer resources to yield the same end product. The problem most run into when they cross-breed with ruderalis is the degradation of THC, as the stalk-like cannabis variant is lacking in psychoactive components.

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