You’ve heard of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, but there’s another variety of cannabis you may not be familiar with. Get to know Cannabis ruderalis and find out why it’s a valued member of the marijuana family.
In this article, the all-things-cannabis experts at Honest Marijuana tell you everything you need to know about this oft-forgotten species and why many breeders still swear by it.
Facts About Cannabis Ruderalis
1) There’s A Reason It’s Named Cannabis Ruderalis
If Cannabis ruderalis (C. ruderalis, or just ruderalis for short) were an animal, we’d call it feral — as in, living in a wild state.
For plants, however, feral doesn’t apply. Instead, botanists use the term ruderal.
Ruderal refers to a plant growing on waste ground, among refuse, and in extreme environments found in colder, more elevated climates.
Essentially, ruderal describes a weed that grows where it’s not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. So it’s not the slang sense you’re used to, but the actual scientific definition of a pesky, unwanted plant.
Cannabis ruderalis commonly grows near roadsides, on agricultural land that is fallow, or on other land that humans have disturbed and then left alone.
2) Grew Originally In Russia And Adjacent Areas
Cannabis ruderalis predates pretty much all of the countries you’d recognize on a map — meaning it was there before man put name to place.
Scientists agree, though, that ruderalis was common in what is now Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and specifically Russia.
In fact, ruderalis probably originated in Russia and then spread east, west, and south into countries such as:
- And others
In many of these areas, ruderalis continues to grow as a weed in competition with more domesticated cultivars such as corn, wheat, and oats.
Cannabis ruderalis isn’t very common in the Western Hemisphere because, as we’ll discuss, it’s only got one or two specific uses.
For that and other reasons, humans didn’t go to the trouble of planting ruderalis here in the states.
3) Related To Indicas And Sativas
Botanists include ruderalis as a third type of marijuana along with its relatives Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.
That said, scientists aren’t really sure if ruderalis is a sibling or a cousin of the more common — and more widely used — varieties. In fact, they’re not even sure whether it qualifies as a species in its own right or if it’s a descendant of one of the other two.
Genetically, Cannabis ruderalis falls somewhere between the indica and sativa strains, but its effects are quite different.
Sativa strains, on the other hand, produce an energetic head high that makes users feel more alert, creative, happy, and serene. Sativa strains are also notorious for their ability to make you hungry.
As you’ll see later on in this article, Cannabis ruderalis does none of that.
4) The Smallest Of The Cannabis Plants
Cannabis ruderalis is the smallest of the cannabis plants.
Botanists attribute this small height to the fact that ruderalis needs to thrive in harsh and varied conditions, such as areas with poor soil, no shade, and exposure to winds and pests.
A small, sturdy plant is much better suited to this type of environment than a tall plant.
Because of its small stature, ruderalis is often referred to as dwarf cannabis or bonsai cannabis. Ruderalis produces only a few branches that contain wide, fat-bladed leaves.
Ironically, the stereotypical pot leaf that has become a symbol of cannabis culture most nearly resembles the Cannabis ruderalis leaf. It’s ironic because ruderalis doesn’t get you high like sativa and indica.
5) Doesn’t Depend On Light Exposure To Flower
One of the most unique and valuable traits of the Cannabis ruderalis plant is that it doesn’t depend on light exposure to flower.
Of course, ruderalis needs light to grow — as all plants do — but this strain doesn’t depend on the ratio of light to dark hours (the photoperiod) to switch from vegetative growth to flowering growth.
Instead, the switch depends on age (i.e., number of days). Scientists call this trait autoflowering.
What that means for the average grower — or the person who stumbles upon ruderalis in the wild — is that autoflowering strains don’t require varying the amount of light the plant gets the way you do with photoperiodic strains.
Just to clarify, photoperiod-dependent strains (or photoperiodic for short) are your classic indica, sativa, and hybrid strains with names even the newest of noobs is probably familiar with (like Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies).
These strains respond to changes in light (i.e., the length of exposure) to “know” when to produce flowers.
To better explain, think about the summer and fall seasons. During the longest days of summer, an outdoor plant might get 15 hours or more of sunlight. After the summer solstice, the number of hours of daylight decreases.
This is usually the “cue” for plants to begin flowering. It’s the basic growing cycle that farmers have been dealing with for 11,000 years and that you probably learned about in kindergarten (only without the big words like photoperiod-dependent).
The autoflowering ruderalis strain will grow for a certain number of days and then flower regardless of the amount of light it gets (as long as it gets enough to thrive, of course).
6) Grows Fast
Cannabis ruderalis grows very fast.
The typical lifecycle of a ruderalis plant — from seed to flower — is as low as 10 weeks (though 12 to 14 weeks is more typical).
Compare that to the much longer grow times of indica and sativa — anywhere from four to six months — and you can see why breeders value this little plant.
7) Contains Very Low THC Levels
The question on most people’s minds when it comes to Cannabis ruderalis is, “How much THC does this baby have?”
Unfortunately, the answer is very little. How much is very little? It helps to compare ruderalis to hemp.
Cannabis ruderalis, on the other hand, typically exhibits less than 3% THC. That small amount is not enough to produce anything akin to a body or head high like indica and sativa (which can get as high as 28 or 29%)
8) Contains Some CBD
Cannabis ruderalis does contain a bit of CBD, so you can use it to experience some wonderful medicinal benefits.
The beneficial effects of CBD are legion, and more are being discovered every day. Here are some things CBD can do:
- Promote bone growth
- Inhibit growth in cancer cells
- Kill or slow bacterial growth
- Reduce risk of artery blockage
- Treat psoriasis
- Prevent degeneration of nervous system
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Aid sleep
- Reduce seizures and convulsions
- Suppress muscle spasms
- Relieve anxiety
- Lessen the severity of psychosis
- Reduce nausea and vomiting
- Stimulate appetite
- Reduce inflammation
- Decrease pain
For many patients, achieving these benefits without the psychoactive effects normally associated with marijuana would be like the holy grail of medical treatment.
That’s one of the reasons Cannabis ruderalis is still used by many breeders: because mixing its genes with indicas and sativas is an easy way to increase CBD count without also increasing THC count.
Cannabis Ruderalis For Breeding
When it comes to cannabinoid content, Cannabis ruderalis is close to the bottom of the barrel.
C. ruderalis is very low in THC — so it won’t get you high — and, though it does have some CBD, you won’t feel the same quality of medicinal effects because the concentration is lower than high-CBD indicas and sativas.
Similarly, Cannabis ruderalis has very little value as a foodstuff or an industrial product. Unlike hemp, ruderalis isn’t high in vitamins and minerals.
And manufacturers can’t use it to produce chemical or textile products like shampoo, lotion, soap, plastic, paint, rope, or clothing.
The true value of Cannabis ruderalis lies in its abilities to autoflower and to grow quickly.
For years, breeders have crossed common cannabis strains with C. ruderalis to improve growing time and flowering without decreasing cannabinoid content.
So, while Cannabis ruderalis is pretty much just a weed, the fact that it will grow nearly anywhere — and do so quickly and without a lot of human interference — makes it a valuable member of the cannabis family.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our wide variety of strains, concentrates, and other products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.