Indicas, sativas, and hybrids between the two aren’t the only species of weed out there. Meet cannabis ruderalis, a lesser known third variety.
Unlike sativas and indicas, which are both native to south central Asia and typically have nine or seven leaves — the former’s being long and thin, the latter’s short and thick — ruderalis has just five leaves and originates in Russia. It’s generally smaller than other species of cannabis, growing up to only less than three feet within seven weeks.
The ruderalis variety also has less THC than its cousins do. In fact, it has so little THC that it’s more commonly recognized as a kind of hemp. It nonetheless contains some cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychotropic compound found in cannabis. For that reason, it could also be used medically, since CBD is known to treat seizures, pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other ailments.
Some theories suggest that cannabis ruderalis might in fact be a subspecies of Cannabis sativa, while other research supports that its genetics are related to both sativas and indicas.
It was first classified in 1924 by D.E. Janischevsky, a Russian botanist, who discovered Cannabis ruderalis growing wild in central Russia and remarked that it was different than other hemp varieties of Cannabis sativa that were growing in Asia and Europe. Its name derives from the word latin word rudera, meaning rubbish, and is related to the term for ruderal plants, which thrive in suboptimal environments, such as along roadsides, in poor quality soil, or other areas close to human development.
However, while Cannabis ruderalis may grow like a small, wild weed between the cracks, it’s nonetheless become useful for pot farmers who aim to mix its genetics with their plants to contain the size of their crop, facilitate indoor cultivation, and harvest their crop more quickly. Ruderalis plants also spawn seeds that auto-flower, meaning they bloom regardless of what the light cycle is. Within 21 to 30 days of vegetation, a ruderalis plant will automatically flower. It also becomes ready for harvest 70 to 110 days after the seed’s been planted. Other kinds of cannabis, on the other hand, need specific quantities of light at specific times.
Aside from its use in modern cannabis cultivation, Cannabis ruderalis was also used in traditional Russian and Mongolian medicine, often as a treatment for depression. Its low THC content, however, does not make Cannabis ruderalis a good candidate for recreational use.