A Discussion of the Currently Accepted Cannabis Varieties (Species)
Cannabis is an annual flowering plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family.
The term ‘family’ above, describes one of the lower ranks of the Hierarchy of Biological Classification (scientific classification system) also referred to as the ‘tree of life’. To understand just where cannabis is located within this ranking, we must first understand the ranking system itself.
Here is an image of the biological system of order:
As you can see, Life is at the top and contains all living organisms. Species is the lowest rank.
Life: contains all living things and cannabis, being a plant, fits into this category.
Domain: Plants and animals are part of the Eukarya domain. One of the three established domains at this rank.
Kingdom: Before the new three-domain system, Kingdom was the top rank of the entire classification system. The Kingdom rank contains: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea and Bacteria. Cannabis is in the Plantae category.
Phylum: can be thought of as a way of grouping organisms based on their general body plan. Marijuana falls into the Magnoliophyta phylum. Magnoliophyta means flowering plants. This includes flowers and fruit (marijuana is a flower) and plants that have a vascular system with vessels.
Class: Cannabis is a part of the Magnoliopsida Class. Magnoliopsida is a valid botanical name for a class of flowering plants.
Order: Rosales is an order of flowering plants that include nine families. Aside from cannabis, other well-known members of Rosales include: apples, pears, peaches, almonds, figs and nettles.
Family: Cannabis is a part of the Cannabaceae Family. Also in this family are hops, well known for its inclusion in the beer making process. (Cannibus, as a genus had previously been placed in the Mullberry (Moraceae) or Nettle (Urticacae) family, but is now considered to properly belong to the Hemp family (Cannabaceae)).
Genus: Finally, cannabis itself, is the name of the Genus.
Species: Lastly, we have the Species ranking. Under the cannabis genus, there are three commonly accepted species of Marijuana. These three species are; 1) Cannabis Sativa, 2) Cannabis Indica, and 3) Cannabis Ruderalis. Most people know of both indica and sativa, however, very few people have ever heard of ruderalis.
Here is a quick review:
Scientific Classification Of Cannabis
Life: All Living Things
Species: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis
So, now that we know just where cannabis sits on the ‘tree of life’, lets take a look at the different cannabis varieties/species.
Cannabis Sativa: Cannabis Sativa is a marijuana variety that likely originated in the Himalayan lowlands. The Sativa species is the tallest of the three cannabis species with outdoor plants reaching a height of 20 to 25 feet in height. Sativa is also less bushy than indica and can be grown closer together. Due to the height of this species, sativa has been utilized for its longer fibers since man began to cultivate it. Sativa is now cultivated all around the world.
THC from the sativa plant is generally lower when compared to the indica species while CBD is higher. This results in a sativa that produces a heady or more energetic high. The yield of the sativa plant is less than that of the indica plant. This is mostly due to the tall and spindly nature of the Cannabis Sativa species. Sativa also takes more time to mature and is best suited for growing outdoors.
Many strains of sativa have been developed for indoor growing as well as having been combined with indica strains in order to create new strains with more desired characteristics such as a greater yield and bushier plants.
Cannabis Indica: Cannabis Indica is a marijuana variety that likely originated in the Himalayan highlands. Indica is the bushiest of the three marijuana species and is in the middle of the three cannabis species when it comes to height. Plants grown outdoors will rarely exceed ten feet in height.
The increased THC and decreased CBD in the indica species results in a much heavier stone that has more of a body high when compared to sativa. The yield of indica is greater than the sativa plant and it takes less time reach maturity.
Cannabis Ruderalis: First discovered in Eastern Europe (central Russia) by Russian botanist D.E. Janichevsky, this very short cannabis variety is known for its ability to grow in colder, harsher climates and its ability to switch from vegetative growth to flowering once it has grown 5 to 7 sets of leaves. What this means is that this plant can flower regardless of a change in light due to a shorter day.
This plant grows only 24 inches tall at most. Certain breeders have created new cannabis varieties crossing ruderalis with indica and sativa in order to create a heavy budding plant that will grow in harsher conditions. Cannabis varieties crossed with ruderalis result in a lower THC count, however, the plants are shorter and mature quicker.