What is Cannabis Ruderalis, and How’s It Different From Other Plant Types

Among cannabis enthusiasts, cannabis ruderalis is almost always overshadowed by its two better-known cousins, sativa and indica. However, it is itself a member of the cannabis family with a unique set of properties that should grab the attention of anyone interested in cannabis cultivation.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to this variety of cannabis, cover little-known facts, and explore its uses.

The Different Subspecies of Cannabis

Cannabis plants come in three distinct varieties. They are:

Cannabis Sativa. 

This type of cannabis is native to East Asia, although it was exported throughout the world thousands of years ago.

Sativa seeds have traditionally been used to cultivate smoke-able buds, but also have a rich history of use in textiles, oils, and other products.

Sativa plants are generally taller than other cannabis plants, with narrower, longer leaves.

Cannabis Indica 

Indica seeds generally grow in colder climates than other types of cannabis. It was first classified by French botanist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in the 18th century.

Whereas sativa is generally associated with a “head change” or a “head high,” indica strains produce more of a body high.

Although sativa strains might also contain high amounts of THC, indica varieties are generally recognized as having higher THC content.

Cannabis Ruderalis 

Ruderalis originates from Eastern Europe and/or Russia.

Ruderalis seeds give birth to plants that are notably shorter than other cannabis types . The plant rarely exceeds two feet in height. It also contains less THC than others.

Cannabis ruderalis plants can be found growing wild across the world, including in the Midwestern United States.

Some experts believe that ruderalis may, in fact, be a type of sativa rather than its own sub-species, but the jury is still out pending more genetic analysis. Regardless, it is distinct from other varieties of cannabis.

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Why Is Ruderalis Often Overlooked?

Due to its characteristics described above, many growers find better yields growing C. indica and sativa strains.

As noted previously, ruderalis, in general, has significantly lower concentrations of THC than its counterparts. In addition, the modern cannabis industry has engineered the genetics of indica and sativa strains to maximize THC content well into the 30% range – far exceeding any potential THC content of ruderalis buds. For those reasons, commercial marijuana growers do not consider it.

Similarly, the short stature of ruderalis compared to the other subtypes make it undesirable for hemp cultivation.

The Hardiness of Ruderalis Seeds

One distinguishing feature of ruderalis strains that sets them apart from other cannabis subtypes is their exceptional hardiness. Perhaps owing to its evolutionary origin in the harsh climate of Russia, ruderalis can grow and even thrive where other cannabis plants cannot.

Where are Ruderalis Strains Grown?

For reasons that we’ll discuss a little later on, ruderalis has never been widely cultivated for industrial purposes. As such, its cultivation remains limited to the areas of Eastern Europe and Russia where it has historically been used as folk medicine for centuries. Many of its genetics, however, have been cross-bred into the more popular sub-types.

What is Cannabis Ruderalis Useful For?

Ruderalis strains an “auto-flowering” feature embedded in its genetic code that many cannabis cultivators take advantage of. This feature, unique to ruderalis, allows growers to make multiple harvests within a single growing season, increasing yield.

Ruderalis strains also have an extensive history as an herbal remedy, primarily for depression, in ancient Russian and Eastern European cultures.
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