The 5 Oldest Cannabis Strains
4 min

Landrace Strains: The 5 Oldest Cannabis Strains

4 min

Landrace strains are the foundation of all modern strains out there. Let's explore the origins of these ancient varieties and the unique features of each.

A landrace can be defined as a wild growing cannabis variety that evolved in the isolation of a specific geographic region. Over the ages, those isolated strains began to take on their own distinct characteristics best suited for survival in the particular region in which they evolved. Those strains are oftentimes named after their native region and hints to these varieties are sometimes found in the names of their crossbred progeny.

During the 1970s and 80s, cannabis aficionados traveled the world and began collecting landrace strains to cultivate them in their own local gardens. These strains are called heirlooms and were then propagated in other environments like California and Europe.

Arjan Roskam, the founder of Greenhouse Seeds in Amsterdam, has caught attention through his Strain Hunters project and the documentaries that accompanied their travels. The Strainhunters travel the world to find and collected largely untouched landrace strains to retrieve original genetic material that can be used to developed new strains with. Landraces are very important for breeding purposes because they are the winners of the natural "survival of the fittest" game.

Different climates formed strains with different appearance and cannabinoid composition - although they are members of the same family and there is very little distinction between them from a botanical point of view.

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The origins of cannabis sativa

Cannabis Sativa

The cradle of Cannabis sativa landraces is Asia, Anatolia, and Northern Africa. These landraces tend to be much taller (up to 3-4 meters) and lankier than their Indica counterpart, with greater internodal spacing, and long, often airy, flower clusters and a significant stretch during their very long flowering period. The leafs are slender and exhibit deeply jagged serrations. The aroma of Sativa flowers is often described as fruity and floral. Cannabis sativa landraces have adapted to a life near the equator with longer summers and more intense sunlight and are not able to mature properly at even mild Northern or Southern latitudes. Some famous Sativa strains are Thai, Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison, and Panama Red.

The origins of cannabis indica

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis indica landraces were naturally developing in the mountain regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Indica landraces exhibit a much shorter (only up to 2 meters) and more compact stature and are more resinous than their Sativa cousins. Indicas finish their flowering earlier, showing only little stretch during their flowering period. The leafs of an Indica are broad and exhibit much less deeply jagged serrations. The flower clusters of an Indica plant are tightly packed and very dense. The aroma of Indica buds is often described as musky and earthy. The plants are well adapted to growing in mild Northern latitudes. Two of the most famous pure Indica strains are Hindu Kush and Afghani.

Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis Ruderalis

Eastern Europe, the Himalayas and Siberia are the roots of Cannabis ruderalis, the cannabis oddity. Cannabis ruderalis is not only the smallest member of the cannabis family, reaching heights of just 1 meter, but also the least potent when it comes to cannabinoids. Its most exceptional trait is its capability to start flowering without a change in the light levels, which is an adaptation to the harsh climates in extreme Northern and Southern latitudes. In these regions the summer days can be as long as 20 hours, but the season lasts for a very short time. Breeders cleverly harnessed this genetic trait to create the autoflowering strains we know today. With autoflowering plants it is possible to harvest a plant in as little as 60 days from germination, which allows for two or more harvests per season in temperate climates.

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The 5 Oldest Cannabis Strains

Now that you understand what landrace cannabis is, we can begin to examine some of these ancient strains further. It’s very interesting that just a handful of strains would go on to become the foundation for the thousands of varieties out there today.


Afghani Cannabis

It should come as no surprise where Afghani weed comes from, and it is one of the most recognisable landraces around. This strain stays true to its indica origins by inducing a long, yet enjoyable couch-locking high. This feeling will go really well with this bud’s beautiful combination of sweet, spicy, and skunky aromas.

The feminized Afghani and Afghani 1 seeds are definitely worth checking out for those in love with this charming indica. These strains are known for growing to manageable heights and churning out large yields, despite their compact structure. Dense and heavy buds will make you an Afghani advocate for life.


Thai Cannabis

Contrary to the previous strain, Thai is a pure sativa. This means that it’ll give you an energetic, cerebral high that's perfect for any wake and bake. Additionally, the effects are often uplifting and creative; if you’re struggling with an artistic block of sorts, a bowl of Thai will surely take you out of it. Overall, this is the perfect strain for the productive stoner. But don’t smoke it at night unless you’re planning an all-nighter.

We have a couple of great strains crafted from these legendary genetics. Thai Fantasy is very easy to grow outdoors, and will withstand harsh conditions due to its hardy and vigorous nature. AK-420 is a resilient, high-yielding specimen that is a great choice for any novice grower.


Nepalese Cannabis

Nepalese essentially refers to any strain grown in the region of Nepal. This includes the country itself and nearby surrounding areas. This environment has imbued Nepalese genetics with super earthy genetics with a hint of berry sweetness. These strains are known for featuring the relaxing and uplifting effects of an indica, with the growth profile of a sativa.

The amazing Nepal Jam takes Nepalese genetics to a whole new level. This is a 100% sativa strain that’s sure to give you a lot of gorgeous buds, whether indoors or outdoors. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more punch, Vision Cookies is the Nepalese strain for you. This will produce big buds with 20% THC. And these will leave you couch-locked due to the plant’s 70% indica genetics.


Hindu Kush Cannabis

This landrace strain, which derives from the mountain range of the same name, is one of the most famous genetics out there. Stretching over 800km between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the harsh climates of the region created robust genetics of worldwide distinction. Just by taking a whiff of Hindu Kush bud, you will quickly understand why this area is known for its unmatched hashish. The aroma mixes a blend of spices and musky undertones with an unmistakable scent of old-school hash.

Kush varieties usually induce intense body highs and happy mental stimulation. For medicinal consumers, this is a great strain for soothing insomnia, depression, or stress. The feminized Hindu Kush seeds combine these positive effects with a short flowering time. If you enjoy making hash or concentrates, these are the seeds to sow. But if you’re looking for a hybrid that’s perfect for indoor growth, our Kalini Asia is the way to go. Only growing around a metre tall, this plant will produce a hefty haul of top-quality buds. And with 22% THC, this Hindu Kush and Pure Purple Afghani cross will make you fall in love straight away.


Aceh Cannabis

From the hills of Aceh, an Indonesian province, this is a rare, pure sativa landrace strain. It boasts beautifully sweet and tropical aromas that are inherent in its exotic genetics. Its punchy and sweet earthy flavour will help kickstart your high immediately. Aceh is a great strain to help combat mood disorders because of its euphoric, cerebral high. It’ll be hard coming up with sad thoughts after a few puffs of dank Aceh! The average THC levels of this strain might be lower than usual (around 10% THC), but the high is still described as powerful and energetic.

Like most landrace strains, Aceh shares a common attribute of resilience. With plants that have adapted to the hot and humid climate of this region, you can successfully harvest a variant of this landrace in less than 10 weeks of flowering!

And there you have it! We hope you’ve learned a bit more about landrace strains and these 5 amazing ones in particular.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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