White Widow

Soft Secrets
08 Sep 2014

The White Widow is likely the most famous, and most potent, Cannabis hybrid from the 1990s.


The White Widow is likely the most famous, and most potent, Cannabis hybrid from the 1990s.

The White Widow is likely the most famous, and most potent, Cannabis hybrid from the 1990s.

Original Name: White Widow
Original name: Arnhem’s Wonder
Breeder:
Ingemar for De Sjamaan
Genetics: 60 % sativa / 40 % indica
Origins:
Brazilian x South Indian
Flowering:
8 to 10 weeks (indoors); 70 to 84 days (outdoor)
Outdoor Harvest: Late September to early October

The matriarch of the ‘White Family’, White Widow is perhaps the most famous Dutch hybrid of the mid- to late-1990s. Prior to this era, the industry was dominated by Skunk #1, Northern Lights, Afghan and Haze genetics. These four comprised many – if not most – of the popular hybrids that were created during this time period. In 1995, however, the White Widow burst onto the scene most notably via the Green House Seed Company (GHSC), introducing a complex and mind-blowing blend of Brazilian sativa and a South-Indian, indica-dominant hybrid that could be grown by cultivators of varying levels of experience. Countless hybrids and versions of this strain flooded the Dutch industry and have since remained among the more popular varieties for smokers and growers.

While the GHSC won the High Times Cannabis Cup with the Widow back in 1995, the origins of this strain are often disputed. Common knowledge in the Dutch scene is that the strain was created by a Surinamese breeder called Ingemar, who had established the powerhouse variety as far back as 1987; it won its first Highlife Cup in 1989 under the name Arnhem’s Wonder.

According to Arjan, co-founder of the GHSC, he purchased a batch of plants from a legendary grow shop in Nijmegen, among them White Widow males and females. He states that Ingemar had already done the breeding on the WW, thus all he had to do was to conduct crosses in 1994. The White Widow then became the hardest-hitting hybrid in the Dutch Cannabis scene, certainly not for faint-of-heart smokers or newbies. 

An alternative origin for the Widow is that Shantibaba crossed Brazilian sativas with a unique, indica hybrid cultivar that was selected by villagers in the mountainous Kerala region of India. Some insist that Shantibaba’s White Widow is the original that was released by GHSC in the mid-1990s and is sold today by Mr. Nice Seeds (MNS) under the name Black Widow.

According to Ingemar’s interview with Grow magazine in Germany, White Widow “is the result of two lines that were developed and stabilized for six years, before crossing between them.” Several seeds were found in a lump of charas, or hand-rubbed hashish. Ingemar, who adheres to old-school Cannabis industry secrecy and will not reveal the exact genetic origins, claims to have carefully grown out and selected the White Widow from extensive outdoor crops and auditioned the results among medical users. His estimation that it takes six years to stabilize a strain, coupled with the time required for completing the initial crosses, establishes the White Widow at a start date of around 1986 or 1987. This precedes the suggested release date of Shantibaba’s 1994/1995 Widow that was reportedly developed in a GHSC partnership.

White Widow Cultivation, Phenotypes and Effect

The White Widow can be slightly fussy but is extremely manageable for those with little Cannabis cultivation experience. Growth is vigorous and the plant is pest-resistant outdoors, especially at high elevations. Some phenos are distinctly sativa-oriented and slightly lanky, which aids in air circulation and helps to prevent mould and mildew from taking hold. Side-branching is prevalent and plants can be kept short and stocky, if desired. The more indica-dominant phenos display their traits through dark green leaves that are strangely narrow like sativas, complemented by frosty, crystal-laden buds upon which the trichome production extends far down the top leaves. Buds are heavy with resin; light is refracted so well by the flowers that the plants take on a whitish glow – hence the distinction of the ‘White Family’ of Cannabis. As the flowers mature, amber or reddish-brown pistils emerge from the opalescent colas.

White Widow plants fare well in a SOG or SCROG setting. If such an approach is taken, limit vegging time a little more than you would with a typical 60/40, as the Brazilian genes promote a robust and energetic pre-flower phase. In fact, many old-school growers familiar with Dutch genetics insist that one way to tell that you are growing the original Widow is its tendency to pre-flower during veg. 

According to the Big Book of Buds, “Green House suggests changing the lighting to eight hours during the last two weeks of flowering in order to halt regrowth... on the buds and produce just enough stress to coax out the maximum amount of sticky resin per inch.”

Hybrids Related to White Widow

The original Widow offered a powerful combination of cerebral and corporal effects; some later breeders out-crossed it to produce interesting and potent daughter varieties. Relatives in the White Family include Arctic Sun by the Flying Dutchmen. This stupefying hybrid resulted from crossing a WW female with an original Skunk #1 to add a subtly sweet, fruity undertone to the flavour of  White Widow, undercutting its slightly fuel-like taste. 

White Russian combines a WW mother with an AK-47 father to create a truly mind-numbing hybrid, released and popularized by Serious Seeds.

Other White hybrids include Great White Shark (a.k.a. Peacemaker or Shark Shock), El Niño (a.k.a. La Niña) and White Rhino (a.k.a. Medicine Man), also products of the Green House Seed Company that have individually influenced – and placed under the influence – generations of the international Cannabis community.

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