Cannabis hasn’t always been the highly developed, hybridized, and selectively hunted plant that it is today. Once upon a time, certain Cannabis strains existed solely in specific regions throughout the world.
As the popularity and value of the plant rose, so did cultivators’ interest in diversifying their product lines – thus beginning the development of our modern-day Cannabis cultivars. Select growers took this niche interest and began traveling internationally, hunting for new varietals from select regions around the world. These growers, many of whom eventually changed their focus from cultivation to breeding, helped usher in a new era for the plant and the community around it.
We culled together some of the top strains from around the world to show how Cannabis’ international roots have set the stage for a new global market.
Acapulco Gold – Mexico’s most famous Cannabis strain and arguably the world’s best-known Sativa, Acapulco Gold is a musky, tropical, haze-esque landrace strain that exploded in popularity in the 1960s and was touted as the first “connoisseur pot.” Though rare, it can still be found in old heads’ gardens along the West Coast and beyond.
Hindu Kush – Hindu Kush is named after the mountain range stretching through Afghanistan from Pakistan to Tajikistan, which is the area this cultivar is indigenous to. Hindu Kush is a short and bushy plant that produces thick, hefty, and tree-like colas. The strain has a reputation for producing stunningly dark purple and black leaves and is commonly known to create a couch-locking, heavy-handed body high for the user.
Matanuska Thunderfuck – Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Valley is the origin of this classic strain that is commonly referred to as MTF. Popular since the 1980s and known to produce different effects in different users, this cultivar is a bit of a wild card. Those familiar with the varietal claim it is one of the most potent and complex strains in existence.
Montana Silvertip – This sparkling cultivar is Montana’s shining gem and a rare, but special cultivar. With a storied lineage that is said to be a Grand Daddy Purple x Silver Kush cross, this heavy-duty hybrid packs a powerful punch, delivering characteristics of both the body-high-leaning GDP and the uppity zip of the Silver Kush.
Maui Wowie – Hawaii is known to be home to some incredible tropical ganja, as well as some prized genetics. Maui Wowie is a classic thin-leaf varietal that is arguably the most famous of the archipelago’s cultivars, bursting onto the scene after making its way stateside in the 1970s. Maui Wowie features a mango, lemon-lime, pine-forward aroma that is known for its euphoric and mellowing effects.
DJ Short Blueberry – Legend has it that DJ Short scoured Central America and Southeast Asia to find the genetics that would eventually be bred into the renowned DJ Short Blueberry, also known as the True Blueberry. The purported lineage of the strain is Highland Thai, Oregon Purple Thai, and Afghani. While the strain has international roots, the legwork to breed the strain was done in Seattle, Washington.
OG Kush – The OG Kush has a truly wild history behind it. Reportedly, the strain originated in Florida in 1991, and in 1996, Josh D flew wet cuts from Florida to Los Angeles, California where it exploded in popularity amongst both consumers and celebrities. At one point in time, outrageous prices of $6,000 to $10,000 per pound were being paid to acquire this especially hefty smoke.
Durban Poison – Durban Poison is a special landrace varietal originating from the South African port city of Durban. The strain is a classic thin-leaf varietal and produces a buzzy, energetic, and motivating high via a piney, lemon-lime, and musk-forward smoke. Rumor has it that the strain was popularized by Cannabis greats Ed Rosenthal and Mel Frank in the late 1970s.
Shiatsu Kush – Originally bred as an heirloom strain, Shiatsu Kush hails from the Japanese island of Amami Oshima. This rare varietal was originally brought to the Americas by legendary seed bank BC Bud Depot, known for its deeply relaxing effects and complex terpene profile that tends to present with prominent notes of cedar and menthol.
NYC Sour Diesel – The exact lineage of NYC Sour Diesel is a bit muddled, thanks to two versions of the strain existing. The original version was most likely a Chem Dog plant that was unintentionally pollinated by another plant in the same room in Staten Island, New York sometime in the early 1990s. Later, Soma Seeds got a cut of the Sour and put out their version – which many referred to as Grapefruit, thanks to its aroma and flavor that called to mind the fruit.
Jack Herer – Jack Herer is the name of both a legendary Cannabis activist and an equally renowned, energetic, and notoriously flavorful thin-leaf varietal hailing from Amsterdam. Bred from a three-way cross of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk, breeder Sensi Seeds created the strain in the mid-‘90s in honor of the great activist. This spice, pine, and citrus-forward cultivar is known to produce a heady, cerebral, and creative high.
Red Congolese – Popularized in California, this hybrid is derived from landrace strains from two different continents – Panama and Africa – producing a notably stimulating, creative, and motivating cultivar. The strain has a strong tendency to produce focused and functional effects, coupled with a high degree of mental clarity, making it an excellent choice for daytime consumption.