Written by: Melissa Cornwell
For most cannabis consumers, cannabis types are known as sativas or indicas (or a cross between called hybrids). Many are unaware of a third type of cannabis known as cannabis ruderalis. This type of cannabis was once thought to be the ancestor to the two popular categories but has since be shown to be its own cannabis species. While this species is not well known in the general population, cannabis cultivators prize the species for its autoflowering and small size. They frequently utilize this species to breed hybrids that have some of these benefits.
The average cannabis consumer may find benefit with strains in this species category if grow space is a concern. This species is known to grow an average of one to two-and-a-half feet tall. It will produce a smaller yield but will easily fit into a small growing area. Another advantage of this species is its autoflowering capabilities. It does not require special lighting needs and will transition from vegetating to flowering regardless of light cycles. This autoflowering ability is distinct to this cannabis category, as true indicas and sativas require that flowering be ”triggered” by light patterns. Modern ruderalis species automatically mature and begin flowering about 21 to 30 days after planting.
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Cannabis ruderalis has high levels of CBD and lower amounts of THC but is not considered hemp. The THC content is low (below 3%) but still higher than hemp with similar levels of CBD. Cannabis ruderalis is a very hardy plant, able to grow in conditions that would kill other cannabis types. It is known to grow wild in very inhospitable areas such as the Russian tundra. Due to the low THC levels, ruderalis is fairly unknown to cannabis consumers. Breeders use the species almost exclusively to produce cannabis hybrids with the same traits, such as autoflowering, but with the higher THC levels of indicas or sativas. This frequently overlooked cannabis species could provide the home grower with a hardy cannabis strain without the lighting requirements found in other harder-to-grow species. Examples of ruderalis species can be found here.