Cannabis 101: What Are Landrace Strains?

If you’ve spent any time around dispensaries, you may have heard the term “landrace” thrown around, and possibly wondered just what those budtenders were smoking. Landrace strains are often described in hushed and exalted tones by those in the know, and for good reason. They’re the “OG” of cannabis: Strains that came up and became acclimated to a specific geographic environment. Many of the most revered names in cannabis are landrace strains: Hindu Kush, Lamb’s Bread, and Durban Poison, for a start. Many aficionados describe them as the closest we can get to an “original” version of cannabis as nature intended it.

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Landrace strains aren’t a super-powered kind of cannabis, and in fact, their effects aren’t noticeably different from non-landrace strains. But what they’ve got going for them is something very special. Given how complex plant genetics and breeding practices have become—not to mention the potential downsides of the industrial mono-crop strains we’ll likely see once cannabis is fully legal—landrace strains are a powerful and unique way to understand how cannabis has been shaped by its environment.

If all this leaves your head spinning, relax. We’ll break it down gently. And chances are, by the end of this article, you’ll probably want to try it yourself!

Landrace Strains: Genetic Origins

In this context, a landrace strain—from the German “landrasse”—is a specific strain of cannabis that has developed in a specific physical environment without intermingling with other strains.

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From a plant-breeding perspective, landrace strains are particularly useful because they have unusually pure genetics. Because they’ve developed in harmony with their physical environment, they’re uniquely suited to certain conditions. And because they’ve only interbred with other plants of the same landrace strain, their genetic profiles are especially well-defined. Unlike with animals, inbreeding within plant varieties isn’t a problem. For a breeder, starting with these strains is a little like working with a pristine whiteboard that’s never been drawn on.

But of course, very few of us are plant breeders. So let’s look at landrace strains from an experiential point of view. What makes them different from other strains when it comes to consuming them?

Landrace Strains: The Taste of a Place

To some degree, every kind of cannabis—whether it’s Acapulco Gold or Maui Wowie or Dutch Treat—is an expression of a specific place. But landrace strains take the idea a step further. Because their genetics have been preserved and refined over thousands of plant generations, it’s no exaggeration to say that when you try the infamous Thai, you’re smoking the exact same thing American GIs smoked in Vietnam, or Thai traders and plant merchants bundled into long “Thai sticks” centuries ago.

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Just like food can evoke the experience of being in a far-off land—like so much of the food at our favorite restaurants around Green Goddess Collective—landrace strains can transport you to distant shores as well. Next time you come by the dispensary, talk to one of our friendly budtenders about the latest landrace strains we’ve got ready and waiting for you. We think you’ll grow to love them as much as we do!

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