What are Landrace Strains?

Liz Filmer
17 Nov 2023

Climate and locale are essential to why native cannabis plants prosper in particular parts of the world. Native plants evolved via survival of the fittest, acquiring traits that aided in surviving in the environment in which they arose. These are best known as "landrace strains", a cannabis plant that is purely Indica or a Sativa and a native of the region in which it first was naturally cultivated.

The Indica plant is believed to have derived from the Middle East, mainly the Hindu Kush mountain range across Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan and southeastern Tajikistan. The sativa plant has roots in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, before ending up in Central America and flourishing in warmer, tropical conditions. 

Acapulco Gold, Hindu Kush and Durban Poison are all popular landrace strains. The names are linked to their respective regions. Cannabis strains have long been traded and crossbred, acting as a catalyst in transforming the physical attributes of particular strains, along with its overall genetic code (genotype). The result was a host of indica, sativa and hybrid strains, all diverse in their visual properties, also known as phenotypes. 

Because phenotypes are directly impacted by a genotype's unique exchange with the climate that it exists within, strains were pushed out of their original environment, permitting these changes to take place. 
Landrace strains present a peek into cannabis' history that was yet to be meddled with by human hands. 

Unlike their contemporary predecessors, landrace strains are distinctive in their genetic purity. This original genetic makeup has allowed them to adapt to their environment, making it problematic for them to thrive elsewhere. Over time, old favourites have been combined, resulting in many new strains. 

With the uptick in the legalisation of cannabis, a competitive new market continues to nibble away at the authentic, old-fashioned and straightforward side of cannabis. In these modern times, growers must focus heavily on flavour, power and grow time. 

Authentic landrace strains have evolved to be the rarest commodities in the modern market despite being the basis for all the strains we know and love today. 

However, whether it's a hunger compelled by nostalgia, respect for biology, or a combination of both, there appears to be an emerging urge to return to the roots of cannabis, especially where land-race strains are involved. 

Cultivators and breeders must thoroughly know the strain's origins to create a new strain. Relying on copies of copies of a plant will only result in inferior genetics. Clean, solid genetics must be available if a grower renews the process. 

Likewise, landrace strains are a critical element of growing new hybrid plants. Cultivators can concentrate on sourcing the genetics they want, using indoor greenhouses to construct an environment that permits many strains to thrive, regardless of their growing location. 

The cannabis industry is growing and evolving constantly and shows no signs of slowing down. Trying a true landrace strain is a dream to many, and the idea of any of these traditional genetics returning to the contemporary market is fascinating.

More on this topic from Soft Secrets:

Top tips on choosing genetics

Plant relatives of cannabis

Liz Filmer