Landrace Strains: The Genetics that Started it All

landrace strains

A single species of African wildcat is responsible for the offspring of every breed and color combination of domestic house cats. In a similar fashion, all the weed strain available today can be traced back to a few early landrace strains. A quick cannabis seed search shows the truly vast amount of strains that have been created by growers around the world.

Strains are the product of mating a male and female plant. You can map out marijuana strains just like you would map out a family tree. Landrace strains are the beginning of cannabis’ family tree.

Landrace Strains Definition

There are several variations on the definition, but I think pretty much everyone agrees on two important factors when classifying a landrace cannabis strains:

  1. the plant must be growing in the wild
  2. the plant has evolved to its natural environment

The second part is very important. When a cannabis plant is forced to adapt to a new environment over time it will stabilize and contain unique characteristics. It’s these unique characteristics that have allowed for the varied array of cannabis strains that are available today.

In addition to their psychoactive effects, these landrace strains were used to make hemp products like cloth, rope, and paper (source).

Landrace Strain Examples

Cannabis grows best in warm and sunny climates, so the majority of landrace strains come from areas near the equator. The following strains are not an exhaustive list of every single landrace strains, however, it does point out most of the notable strains. Once you understand the different landrace strains then some of the strain names still used today will make a bit more sense.


It’s believed that cannabis originated in central Asia. From there, humans brought the plant to the rest of the world. The very first strain is believed to have been lost due to cross breeding. Here are a few Asian landrace strains:

Thai – You may have heard this referred to as Thai Sticks. It’s a purely sativa strain with a fruity smell and taste.

Nepalese – This is an indica strain that comes from Nepal. Interestingly, Nepalese isn’t technically just one strain – it’s a collection of several various strains and phenotypes from the area.

Middle East

The climate in the Middle East is great for growing cannabis so it’s no surprise that several landrace strains come from this region.

Hindu Kush – I’m guessing you’ve probably heard the term kush before. It’s used in tons of strain names and some people use the term kush simply to mean good weed. Well, this is where the term kush comes from. More specifically, the term comes from the Hindu Kush Mountains where this strain was originally grown. This area is in modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hindu Kush is an indica strain noted for its high resin production.

Afghani – This is a heavy indica strain. If you guessed this strain originated in Afghanistan then you’re correct.


The equator runs directly through Sub-Saharan African giving it an ideal climate for cannabis to thrive. Here are some of Africa’s landrace strains:

Durban Poison – This strain comes from the city of Durban – a port city in South Africa. This is a pure sativa strain with a sweet and fruity flavor.

Malawi Gold – This landrace strain comes to us from the country of Malawi in Africa. This strain is a pure sativa with a notably long flowering time.

Central America

Northern Central America has also produced a variety of landrace strains which you may recognize:

Acapulco Gold – This strain originated in the city of Acapulco, Mexico. This sativa typically has lots of oranges hairs.

Panama Red – Like the Acapulco Gold, this strain is noted for its orange hairs giving it the last part of its name. The first part comes from the fact that this landrace strain comes from the country of Panama.

Colombian Gold – Colombia is often thought of for their cocaine production, however, they are also the birthplace of this landrace cannabis strain. This sativa originated in the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia.

Heirloom Strains Definition

Heirloom strains are the result of growers taking landrace strains and breeding them together to create entirely new strains (source). For example, Hindu Kush was mixed with Afghani to make Afghan Kush. Another example would be Afghani x Thai created the strain known as Northern Lights. From there, strains continued to be breed to make the hundreds (probably thousands) of strains available today.

Do you know any landrace strains I didn’t mention? Have you tried any of these strains? If so, let me know in the comment section below. 


  • Ava Gardner says:

    Nice article! Super informative. Cant stand when people make up whatever name they like, to make an ok product sound better.

  • i think a lot of the Young cannibas smokers should tune in to you iam 65 and have smoked most of the landrace strains you mentioned and i would not trade them for todays strains nothing like a pure landrace strain nothing thats all folks keep on toking

    • Bob newhart says:

      While I agree that everyone should get to try the landraces because they offer something modern hybrids can’t, they for the most part cannot compete with modern hybrids in terms of sheer potency. I have some malawi x kashmir and some black Congolese x kashmir I’m extremely excited to try. 2 true f1 hybrids made from locally sourced landraces, should be pretty incredible.

  • Early Girl and Early Pearl (Crossed in Amsterdam’s Sensi Seed Bank for example) flower in a much shorter span than pure Sativa lines. They are hybrids, but maintain the yield and flavors of African and Hash landrace strains. You have the whole crop in before the first rains in California. Anxiety about losing an outdoor crop to early rains is reduced to nil. Plus no electricity needed.

  • DabToolBurn says:

    What Hawaiian landrace strains are there?

  • igor says:

    Acapolco gold comes from the mountains inland from zehuataneho north of Acapulco
    For many years we smuggled it Armadillo gang before the process (sex separation) was known no red hairs.the new riders of the purple sage wrote a song about that road

  • Afganja says:

    In 1975 I was 17Y.O. A native Hawaiian man moved to my area in Maine. He brought Afghani seeds and I was fortunate to end up with several as he was liberal with them. For 42 years now I have grown this exclusively outside,other strain inside. I am the only person I’m aware of locally that never cross bred them and I have continuously kept them producing each summer. About 10 years ago I went to clones only although I was able to hold onto @4000 seeds. Life happens,lost my entire clone base,and started anew with 10 years old seeds. I got 4 plants. All females. So now I have saved this strain but I now have females only. Meaning I HAVE TO clone now. Looking for a suitable male of same but it appears to me that anything available online has not been kept pure like I have with mine. Looking for old school Afghani males,or seeds, to produce some seeds for future emergencies

  • Jimmy says:

    Molokai purpz
    Puna buddaz
    Kona gold
    Kauai electric

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