You don’t need much of a green thumb to grow cannabis as long as you have the right conditions; some light, some water.
The marijuana seeds we are sold at the local dispensary or seed store (where it’s sold legally of course) are the products of years of cross-pollination and controlled cultivation. But what is wild cannabis like, and where is it grown?
Well, believe it or not, you may have crossed paths with wild cannabis in your lifetime, especially if you live in the American Midwest.
In this article, we will take a journey all over the world to discover the varying strains, climates, and regions of our favorite magical plant.
The complicated history of cannabis goes back thousands of years and touches almost every continent. Its powerful impact on us has allowed it to pass from culture to culture.
But as it has been passed down, the touch of human intervention has changed it. It has been propagated for its medicinal and/or psychoactive properties, leading to new strains.
Today you can find wide ranges of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica strains used for both recreational and medical cannabis. But these strains are far from that which is found these days in the wild.
Feral cannabis is a very hardy weed. Its seeds easily and widely dispersed across vast distances and can lie dormant for years till it sprouts. The female plants are pollinated by the male ones, with lots of seeds found within the flowers.
For this reason, this kind of plant is not appealing for someone looking for a quick high. Not only that, the chances of finding cannabis with large amounts of THC are very low. Sorry to disappoint!
The cannabis found in the wild is probably much closer to the cannabis of our ancestors. It has flourished in the right climates and remains to this day. But what is the most ideal climate for cannabis to grow on its own?
Hemp and marijuana grow best in warm and humid climates. But even so, it can still grow wild in the high mountains or even vast blustery deserts. This resilient plant can survive in a variety of terrains and different climates; pretty much anywhere besides freezing climates.
The variety of cannabis that has been able to grow and adapt to the environment of its native land is known as a landrace. Typically the names of the landrace strains come from the region from which they are grown.
There are fields of wild marijuana plants in the climate the plant grows the strongest: warm, tropical climates. The heat, humidity, and steady rainfall in tropical climates are ideal. This includes rainforests and savannahs.
Besides the ideal tropical regions, it is also possible for cannabis to grow in the following climate zones:
- Temperate regions: Temperate climate zones are also known as mesothermal, subtropical, middle latitude, or marine climates. The strains found in these kinds of regions require more moderate weather to thrive.
- Dry regions: Hardy cannabis can be found in deserts and steppes of dry climate zones. These plants thrive in windy and arid conditions. They must also be able to survive the extreme flux in temperatures from day to night.
- Continental regions: These kinds of climate zone typically have hot, wet summers and conversely, cold, dry winters. The strains that thrive in these regions can adapt to the different conditions manifesting throughout the year.
Due to their high resiliency, these landrace strains have popped up all over the world. If you have some sun, some moisture, and some heat, there is a good chance it will grow like wildfire.
The only thing stopping wild cannabis from exploding is human intervention. Plus, like us, animals have taken a liking to it (though for different reasons). Munchers like deer find it quite tasty, especially the THC-rich strains.
Finding wild cannabis that has not been touched by human hands has become increasingly difficult. But not impossible. We will now tell you where the wild beauty can be found.
Where Can Wild Cannabis Be Found?
Let’s explore the parts of the world where you may stumble across wild cannabis. Here are the countries and continents most known for their wild cannabis:
Today wild cannabis grows naturally in the Himalayan mountains, where it is said to have originated from. Though illegal, cannabis is cultivated in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal and other parts of central and western Asia.
Not only has cannabis been a part of the culture for centuries, but many poor farmers also grow and sell the plant as a financial necessity because of minimal job opportunities.
They constantly move their crop so as not to be found by UN-backed authorities who will chop them down. The Nepalese landrace thrives in this continental climate and attracts many “hippies” from all over the world.
Jamaica is known for its huge cannabis culture. This is probably due to how readily available it is there. Although marijuana is heavily associated with Jamaica, it is not native to the country and has only been present on the island for about 150 years.
It was brought around by East Indian laborers who were shipped to the British colonies after slavery was abolished in 1833. The intense sunlight, mild winters, and long growing season of this tropical climate allow the ideal conditions for wild landrace strains like Jamaica’s Lamb’s Bread and King’s Bread.
King’s Bread, sometimes called King’s Breath, is found abundantly throughout Jamaica, especially in the areas near the Blue Mountains. If you find yourself in this region, keep an eye out for its finger-like flowers and keep your nose peeled for the sweet citrus and mint aroma.
Currently, the legal status of cannabis in North Korea is unknown, but many believe it is legal. Surprisingly, wild cannabis is cultivated there. Though intriguing, this cannabis is inaccessible to us Westerners, for obvious reasons.
Lebanon is the perfect temperate region in the Middle East for wild cannabis. The moderate weather allows Lebanon’s landrace Lebanese Red to thrive. The Middle East also has many dry climate regions where hardy cannabis strains can grow.
These include the Afghani landrace and Hindu Kush strains growing in the chaotic region of Afghanistan. Weed grows quite easily in its soil, partially one of the reasons why it became one of the world’s largest suppliers of cannabis in 2010.
Hindu Kush grows wild throughout the Middle East, especially in the area, Indica originates from: the Hindu-Kish Mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The flowers have a very thick coat of trichomes, which have an earthy, sandalwood scent.
Malawi, a tropical country in Eastern Africa, has ideal conditions for wild cannabis with strains like Malawi landrace. Africa’s varying terrains include dry regions where Egypt’s landrace called Sinai can withstand the extreme heat of the Egyptian desert.
Throughout Africa, you can find a wild variety of Sativa called Swazi Gold. This strain has anything from sweet citrus to a spicy woody flavor. Swazi Gold can thrive in terrains ranging from jungles to mountains, allowing it to sweep easily over Africa’s varying regions.
The best-known cannabis strains are either Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. However, there are one subspecies of cannabis that is often forgotten: Cannabis ruderalis.
Cannabis ruderalis is a type of wild cannabis that is native to Europe. It is high in CBD, but low in THC. This type of cannabis has grown wildly in Mongolia and Russia for years, often being used by its inhabitants as a folk medicine for depression.
Cannabis ruderalis is a little different than other subspecies because it flowers with age rather than with the changes of the light cycle. The other kinds of cannabis are known as photoperiod cannabis, meaning they need changes in the light cycle to start flowering.
This quality has allowed breeders to develop strains of auto-flowering cannabis that need certain phases of light to flower. Because Ruderalis plants are much shorter than photoperiod strains, growers have bred these plants with high-THC content to be grown more discreetly.
Other parts of Europe where cannabis grows wild are Switzerland, where Swiss Sativa flourishes.
There are huge fields all over Mexico with natural cannabis popping up. The heat and humidity in these parts make it an ideal spot for the plant to grow.
Acapulco Gold, or Mexican Sativa, is one of the best-known landrace strains in Central America. It is a Sativa with a sweet, earthy aroma, and is gold in color.
Not only can you find it in its native hillsides surrounding Acapulco, Mexico, but it has also been found throughout Southwestern US and Central America.
The roadside weed found in North America today is not a native plant. The feral cannabis that can be found growing naturally in the US is sometimes called ditch weed.
It is small and bushy, and typically with low levels of THC. Due to its small, bushy stature, it might be hard for most people to recognize it. Ditch weed is a descendent of industrial hemp plants that are low in THC.
This is far from the cannabis you find in a dispensary. It was once a patriotic gesture to grow hemp in America. Industrial hemp had its hey-day in the Midwest during the mid-20th century.
During this time it was used to support the war effort during World War 2. The remnants of this practice have been left in its soil and have not been easy for authorities to stop the unintentional spread of wild cannabis.
The seeds of ditch weed are spread by birds, animals, and wind. These factors can cause them to spread near and far. Additionally, these seeds can stay dormant for up to 10 years before they grow into their full size.
This makes the effort in eradication extremely difficult because no matter how many plants are killed, there are still seeds that will continue to spread and flourish. Today, the cannabis seed has spread the most and is most prevalent throughout the following states:
The US government has spent a lot of time, money, and resources on the eradication of ditch weed, despite its lack of psychoactive properties. Because hemp grows like a weed, it is almost impossible to get rid of it in the regions where it grows easily.
This type of cannabis is low in THC, so it will not produce a high. But even so, in 2003, 99% of the cannabis eradicated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was ditch weed.
Some DEA divisions attempt to eradicate the plant, while others do not put much effort into it. In Minnesota, ditch weed is known as a nuisance and sometimes can even damage the plowing equipment of farmers.
Feral cannabis is most concentrated in Indiana, where the authorities have mostly stopped trying to eradicate the plant. One Indiana police spokesman said, “You can eradicate ditch weed as well as you can eradicate dandelion."
When To Go Cannabis Hunting
If you want to go foraging for cannabis and you are in the right climate, you need to do so at the right time of year. Autumn is when the cannabis plant flowers. Often the plant doesn’t get to this point before it is munched on by its predators.
What to look for
If you do happen to come across the ganja and it is still untouched by animals, you should see the flower turn to dense buds. Additionally, look for a variety of cannabis leaves. Sativas have long, thin leaves, while Indica is more broad, fat, and resembling stinging nettle.
Where to look
Cannabis ruderalis is often found in sunny spots where it abuts manmade objects like construction sites or urban footpaths. This is because it is often displaced in rich, moist soil by faster-growing plants. Keep in mind, however, it is pretty unlikely you will find it in a city park or walking down a street.
If you happen to see cannabis in the middle of a field, it may not necessarily be wild.Oftentimes people will grow cannabis illegally in places where it might seem to be there naturally.
Keep this in mind before you try to pick it. This may especially be the case if you see a group of tall plants where you don’t see any other plants. This very likely could be an illegal grow operation. Cutting down any of these plants could put you in danger.
On the Search for Green Treasure
It can be an exciting thing to find a strain of cannabis growing naturally in the wild. But, chances are, if it is ditch weed, you may be disappointed. It may be tempting to pack your bags on a mission for the wilds of Mexico, Jamaica, or the Himalayas to hunt for green treasure.
But always keep in mind the laws of that country. And you never want to find yourself in the middle of someone’s grow, hacking down their hard-earned money. It is best to just admire and let it be, taking in the beautiful sight as it continues to spread the world for generations to come.
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