Cannabis Ruderalis: The Overlooked Middle Child Of The Cannabis Family
Have you heard of cannabis ruderalis? Find out how breeders use this hardy cannabis species to make better, fast-growing strains.
What is cannabis ruderalis, anyway? Indicas and sativas are the most famous types of cannabis, but ruderalis shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. Ruderalis is a hardy weed that is used by cannabis breeders around the world. We have this herb to thank for auto-flowering strains. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis ruderalis.
All about cannabis ruderalis
Cannabis ruderalis is one of the three primary cannabis species around today. Some qualify ruderalis as a subspecies of cannabis sativa. There’s some evidence for this claim, as a 2005 study found that the genetics of this plant are somewhere between those of indicas and sativas.
Regardless, ruderalis has now adapted to a new environment and expresses unique phenotypes.
While indicas and sativas have origins in south central Asia, ruderalis is native to Russia. It’s often considered to be a type of Asian/ Eastern European hemp. This cannabis species is significantly smaller than its more popular cousins. Ruderalis tends to grow only 1 to 2.5 feet high and matures in 7 weeks.
Unlike indicas and sativas, ruderalis has a low THC content. So low, in fact, that it is not used as recreational cannabis. The herb’s short stature is also not ideal for hemp production.
However, ruderalis does contain some non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). This fact gives ruderalis value in medical cannabis cultivation, though it’s been more or less overlooked until recently.
A true weed
In the United States, cannabis that grows wild is often referred to as ditch weed. The herb earned this name because of its tendency to pop up in ditches along the side of the road. Though ruderalis is arguably a different subspecies, it also earned its name due to its weed-like growth tendencies.
You can find ruderalis in disturbed soil, near roadsides or in farmland.
In botany, a ruderal plant species is basically a weed. Ruderal plants have quick succession, meaning they’re the first to pop up in areas where the environment has been tampered with or is otherwise of poor quality.
For this reason, ruderalis thrives close to human populations. We tend to disrupt ecological habitats, creating the prime conditions for ruderalis to grow. The word ruderalis actually comes from the latin word rūdera, which means rubbish or debris.
What is cannabis ruderalis used for?
Cannabis ruderalis is actually quite important for breeders and growers. Many breeders mix ruderalis lineage into new strains in order to control the size and growing time of the plant. Ruderalis plants are crossed with indicas, sativas, or hybrids to make them easier to grow indoors and encourage faster yields.
Ruderalis plants are also used to create auto-flowering seeds. Autoflowering strains begin to bloom automatically, regardless of the light cycle. Indicas and sativas both flower when they are exposed to certain kinds of light in the right quantities.
Ruderalis, on the other hand, always flowers when it reaches a certain maturity. You can expect buds on a traditional ruderalis plant sometime between the 5 and 7 weeks. Modern hybrids mature in 21 to 30 days.
Ruderalis mixes are also quite popular in high-CBD mixes. While cannabinoid levels are low in ruderalis plants in general, they do contain more CBD than psychoactive THC. Coupled with their speedy, auto-flowering properties, ruderalis strains are useful in the creation of high-CBD strains grown indoors. This is especially true when ruderalis is crossed with indica strains.
Sativa/ ruderalis crosses are also quite popular. Sativas tend to be too tall to grow well indoors, so adding a little ruderalis heritage to the mix creates plants that are far more manageable.
This simple weed might not look like much, but it does have a role to play in cannabis cultivation. Thanks to ruderalis, autoflowering seeds have become very popular. Indoor growers can also thank this grubby herb for small, fast growing plants. All in all, ruderalis has been instrumental to breeders around the world.
Have you ever used cannabis ruderalis? Share your story with us on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!