Just like apples, there are many varieties of cannabis. For example, green Granny Smiths are a bit tarter than yellowish Golden Delicious, which have skin that’s a little more tender than the crunchy Red Delicious variety. When it comes to marijuana, cannabis varieties are called strains.
Some strains have been around for years and are now part of popular knowledge. For example, the McIntosh Apple was first bred in Canada back in 1811, and now we all are familiar with the name. But when it comes to the original cannabis strains, the history books can be a bit blurry.
Why do we know so little?
One reason is prohibition. The early 1900s was an excellent time for documenting nature – except when it came to cannabis. During that time, it was near impossible to publicize newly bred strains. For generations, cannabis breeding went unexplored.
However, unlike the apple, cannabis has a written history that spans thousands of years. Most scholars believe certain species of cannabis became popular in Central Asia as far back as 15,000 years to go. These strains eventually took on notoriety worldwide thanks to trading routes of ancient times.
Take a look at our picks of legendary weed strains!
Since cannabis has been around for so long, many scholars believe that every modern strain shares at least one common ancestor. These original weed strains are called landraces.
Landraces are a collective of the oldest marijuana strains on the planet. These strains are natives of specific geographic regions and have evolved with the traditional local climate and cultivation processes. Landraces have been selectively bred and harvested for generations and are prized for their region-specific traits.
Two of these ancient strains have made it out of their native lands and continue to thrive, thanks to indoor growing.
Panama Red is a Panama landrace strain that was highly sought-after from the 1960s to the 1990s. It is a typical Sativa with slightly lower THC levels.
Veterans turn to this delightful strain for a mellow high that works quickly to encourage happy feelings. It stimulates creativity while boosting energy, making it an excellent strain for social gatherings or the socially awkward.
For growers, the flowering period of this strain is a bit longer than many other strains, which did not pose a problem for this tropical plant. The long flowering period helps it produce decent yields and an intense psychedelic euphoria.
Because it has such a long growing period, Panama Red is rarely found in local dispensaries. The seeds are also hard to come by, although the strain does have a little popularity in Northern California, Washington, and Oregon.
You could grow this plant both outdoors and indoors. However, it’s moderately difficult to grow. You will need to create Panama-like conditions for this plant to thrive.
|100% / 0%
|12 to 16 ounces per square meter
|16 ounces or more per plant
|77 to 84 days indoors, late October outdoors.
Maui Wowie celebrated popularity between the 60s and 70s and remained a cult favorite ever since. This was thanks to its ability to relieve stress and help users unwind. As a native of the tropical shores of Maui, this Sativa offers an exotic, fruity aroma and a delightful pineapple sweetness.
Users of this Sativa find themselves feeling happy and energetic while enjoying what some refer to as a “tropical mood.”
To this day, Maui Wowie is one of the original weed strains of the Hawaiian Islands. It thrives in a Pacific climate (or similar environment) and offers a distinct island flavor while elevating your mood and relaxing the mind.
Although it enjoys a tropical climate, this plant remains easy to grow, which has helped continue its popularity. Maui Wowie plants are very resistant to diseases and pests. With the right growing conditions, you can expect to yield, fruity tasting and smelling flowers within nine weeks.
|80% / 20%
|9 weeks indoors, early to mid-October outdoors.
Cannabis comes in three main species: indica, sativa, and ruderalis. For much of human history, these three species were kept separate. Ruderalis was primarily used for hemp, whereas indica was used therapeutically in the northern hemisphere, and sativa used culturally in tropical regions.
In the 1900s, however, mixed species of cannabis evolved naturally and on purpose. These hybrid species combined the qualities of cannabis to create new strains that today remain some of the most famous marijuana strains around.
Northern Lights originally circulated through the Netherlands back in 1985. However, it eventually made its way to Seattle, Washington’s outskirts as a hybrid child of the Thai Sativa and Afghani Indica. There, this Indica-dominant strain became the legendary weed from the 80s that it is today.
This well-respected weed strain is famous for its relaxing properties, making it ideal for insomniacs or unwinding before bedtime. Recently, Northern Lights has become one of the most highly demanded weed strains in the State of California. Users enjoy fast-acting highs that put them in happy-go-lucky moods almost instantly.
Northern Lights plants prefer sunny climates but are generally considered “no fuss” plants. They can grow quite large (growing into cannabis trees when given full sunlight) and produce a generous harvest.
|10% / 90%
|18 ounces per square meter
|22 ounces or more per plant
|7 – 9 weeks indoors, mid-October outdoors.
White Widow is one of the Netherland’s original cannabis strains of the 1990s. It’s historically one of the earliest marijuana imports in Europe, where the hybrid strain was first bred. Experts disagree on the bud’s origin, which either derives from the Brazilian landrace, Brazilian Sativa, or is a cross between South Indian Indica and South American Sativa.
To this day, this legendary strain is a ruler in Dutch coffee shops. It’s been rapped about within the Hip Hop community. It’s even been featured on the Showtime series Weeds. Users love its gorgeous buds covered in white crystals and profound aroma of earthy spiciness with hints of pepper and funnel-cake-like powdered sugar sweetness.
Beginners like growing White Widow because of its resilience during temperature drops. This is important for outdoor growers who also find the plants effectively resist common diseases. They thrive in sunlight or similar conditions created within indoor growing rooms.
These plants generally grow up to 4 feet tall, making the compact plants perfect for indoor growers with limited space. They produce high-yields and high-quality buds. This is especially true with practicing advanced cultivation techniques such as the Screen of Green or Sea of Green methods.
|40% / 60%
|18 ounces per square meter
|21 ounces or more per plant
|8 to 9 weeks indoors, end of October outdoors.
Sour Diesel is one of the most famous weed strains from the 1990s era of sunny California. Also known to Californians as Sour D, the hybrid is a mixture between Super Skunk and Chemdawg 91. It’s a hard-hitting sativa-dominant that delivers a powerful euphoria quickly.
Users have reported highs that last all day long, making this strain quite popular. In addition to the all-day high, it also delivers an energizing, no-couchlock, psychedelic experience it appropriate for daytime use.
As its name suggests, Sour Diesel has a funky and pungent, yet pleasant, smell of fuel with hints of fresh, sour lemons. Experts describe it as dank, while also praising its high yields (it’s considered a “Top Cash Crop Strain” within the industry.)
The Sour Diesel strain is not the easiest strain to grow. The plants tend to be susceptible to powdery mildew. So, even when grown indoors under controlled environments, the surrounding areas must be kept extremely clean and sterile.
|70% / 30%
|18 ounces per square meter
|25 ounces or more per plant
|9 to 10 weeks indoors, early November outdoors.
Super Silver Haze
Super Silver Haze has won multiple first-prize awards since the 1990s. The sativa-dominant is a mixture of legendary strain Skunk #1, Haze and Northern Lights. Users enjoy a high that lasts throughout the day, helping you remain calm when anxiety would usually kick in.
Although the strain causes a cerebral high and full relaxation, there is no couchlock, making it a suitable daytime strain. Its invigorating high delivers an added boost of energy, making it a great wake-me-up strain. The sour citrus smell is strong and sweet, yet skunky enough to kick your brain cells in gear.
Super Silver Haze requires a little bit of experience when it comes to growing, but they offer high resistance to disease. The plants will thrive in plenty of sunlight and warm temperatures. Harvest takes a little longer than others, but it is worth the wait.
|90% / 10%
|19 ounces per square meter
|15 ounces or more per plant
|9 – 11 weeks indoors, mid-October outdoors.
Multiple Attempts at Perfection
A few hybrids spent a bit more time in the lab than others. These legendary strains have multiple versions because their breeders were determined to get it just right.
Gorilla Glue almost didn’t make it to the list of famous marijuana strains of the world. Frustrated about his first crop being completely ruined, breeder Josey Wales threw the original seeds away. His ingenious buddy found some of the discarded leftover plants.
A year later, he cultivated four different phenotypes of the original strain. According to experts, the parent strains include Chem’s Sister, Chocolate Diesel, and Sour Dubb.
Today, these award-winning strains are a favorite among both medical marijuana patients and recreational users, with Gorilla Glue #4 being the top dog of the bunch. The strains provide transformative relaxation while putting users in uplifted, long-lasting happy moods.
Expect a complex aroma of sweet moss and strong black coffee, with the smell of pine trees after a hard rain. It’s a favorite for creating edibles, thanks to its hints of savory chocolate and mouthwatering, spicy aftertaste.
These seeds are easy to grow outdoors because the Gorilla Glue plants effectively resist diseases when climates are sunny and dry. They also grow into very tall plants. However, they don’t handle extreme changes in the weather very well, which may be a problem in certain areas.
|50% / 50%
Bruce Banner #3
Bruce Banner #3 is a hybrid created by crossing OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel. The Colorado favorite is responsible for five other phenotypes, with this one remaining the highest-scoring strain ever featured in High Times Cannabis Cups.
This “Incredible Hulk” strain earned much of its fame due to its potency. Bruce Banner is well known for lifting the spirits and stimulating creativity almost immediately. It has a strong, pungent aroma that makes growing this strain outdoors tricky – especially when the plants can grow to ten feet tall. It thrives best in warm, sunny climates that do not have temperature changes.
Although this strain grows large, experienced growers can grow Bruce Banner #3 indoors if they use advanced growing techniques such as the Screen of Green method.
|80% / 20%
|20 to 22 ounces per square meter
|34 to 36 ounces per plant
|60 – 70 days indoors, early October outdoors.
Skunk #1 is one of the famous marijuana strains that’s responsible for many of the popular hybrid strains of today. It’s one of the original weed strains created as a hybrid in the 1970s. Skunk is known for making its users feel physically relaxed from head to toe.
According to history, Skunk #1 was born by crossing the sativas Colombian Gold and Acapulco Gold with the Afghan indica. This led to a hybrid strain with a powerful aroma and very potent high. It provides a creamy skunky smoke that leaves a slightly sweet herbal flavor on your palette.
Skunk #1 prefers a sunny, warm climate when grown outdoors. It’s an easy strain to grow because of its resistance to common mildews and molds. However, as it reaches the last flowering stages, the plants become more susceptible to molds.
That’s why experts suggest this strain thrives best when bred indoors. This makes it easier to control temperatures and keep everything dry during the flowering stage when the plants are more sensitive.
|35% / 65%
|8 – 9 weeks indoors, mid-October outdoors.
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What’s Your Favorite Legendary Strain?
Nowadays, breeders are busy trying to create the perfect strain. Meanwhile, these legendary strains have survived the test of time, proving that even weed from the 80s can still be relevant.
In the world of cannabis, the term “strain” refers to the flower’s particular variety, be it Sour Diesel, Northern Lights, or Jack Herer.
You probably heard the expressions “indica” and “sativa” while learning about cannabis varieties. These two categories primarily apply to the various shapes and structures of plants, features which are important for growers.
The strain that you choose depends on what effect you want. As described earlier, cannabis has a number of medicinal applications but with some diseases certain varieties are safer than others.