Indica and sativa are the typical go-to names when it comes to cannabis strains, but that doesn’t mean they’re all that exist. If you’re an avid learner when it comes to all things cannabis-related odds are you’ve stumbled across this name somewhere on the internet before, but have probably never seen it on any of your local dispensary’s shelves.
What is cannabis ruderalis? Where does it come from? And how different is it from traditional sativas and indicas? By the end of this article, we’ll seek to answer all of those questions and more, and shed some light on exactly what c. ruderalis (and why it may be more important than you know).
Cannabis Ruderalis: The Basics
The name Cannabis “ruderalis” is derived from the root word Latin ruderal or rudera, often translated to “rubble” in english.
Ruderal/ruderalis plants are a wild plant species (more akin to hemp than the traditional marijuana plants we’re familiar with) that can survive and even flourish in environments that have been disturbed by human activity or natural disasters; they can often be found growing near highways or logging roads, as per example.
Often referred to as “ruderal”, cannabis ruderalis is arguably described as a third species (or occasionally a cannabis subspecies) of the marijuana plant. While most people are pretty familiar with sativas and indicas, clearly not as many weed enthusiasts have heard the term c. ruderalis before.
What is C. Ruderalis Exactly?
Ruderal plants are an uncultivated strain of cannabis plants native to the regions of Central Europe, Central Asia and most of Russia. Some experts define ruderalis as a hemp plant species on its own, while others claim it’s simply a variety of the single cannabis species. The main characteristics of ruderalis are its size, being significantly smaller than other species.
Cannabis ruderalis is often one-to-2.5 ft high on average compared to sativa strains, which will stay in the 5 to 8ft range when grown indoors but can grow to ridiculous heights with the right conditions or in less-controlled environments. Comparatively, indicas tend to be a bit more bulky with more dense stalks, and usually won’t grow nearly as tall as sativa breeds.
C. ruderalis usually boasts a smaller number of branches and displays narrow and bright colored leaves. The smaller size and fewer branches can mean a smaller yield but their more manageable sizes can make them suitable for personal indoor growing installation; combined with a typically high CBD content, that makes ruderal hybrids an excellent choice for medical marijuana patients.
Another characteristic observed on ruderalis plants are the significantly smaller size buds. The seeds can be cracked half-open by being walked on by animals or humans and survive the winter, some experts have even claimed it may aid certain ruderalis strains in the germination process of the said seeds.
Being as incredibly resilient to the elements as they are, it is believed that the colder climate in areas such as the northern hemisphere (combined with short summer seasons providing fluctuating hours of sunlight) helped force this adaptation of the C. ruderalis strain away from other varietals of cannabis.
The Auto-Flowering Cannabis Ruderalis
Let’s first quickly explain what the differences between “auto-flowering” and “photoperiod” plants are, and then delve into why c. ruderalis stands out so much in that department compared to the rest of the pack, namely indicas and sativas.
In the plant world, every flowering plant will start reproducing or start flowering when the climate dictates so, both by changes in temperature and, most notably, fluctuation in the number of hours of daylight. For the cannabis plant, as soon as it gets 12 hours of complete, uninterrupted darkness during a 24 hours period, the plant will start its flowering cycle.
These plants are defined as “photoperiod” plants. “Photoperiodism” is a physiological reaction of plant organisms that switches over from the vegetative phase to the flowering phase as soon as they encounter a change in the length of nights or dark periods.
Marijuana breeders use this notion to precisely dictate when they feel their cannabis plants are ready to start flowering and the optimal time in a plant’s life has been reached.This optimal time will vary greatly for each strain but the ability to dictate when a cannabis plant switches over to the flowering phase can be accurately induced by making sure photoperiod plants get exposed to exactly 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness in a 24 hours period.
The ability to begin flowering based on other factors than the darkness time is referred to as “auto-flowering“; in the case of c. ruderalis flowering typically occurs as a function of the plant’s overall age. In terms of hemp cultivation, this is often regarded as the single most important characteristic of cannabis ruderalis.
The capacity to flower or reproduce according to the plant’s age makes ruderalis plants enviable prospects for cannabis growers. Hybrid strains with significant CBD levels can be created by pairing c. ruderalis strains with various popular sativa and indica varietals, ending up with autoflowering hybrids, easy to raise for beginner growers, that still retain the sought-after big buds and high-THC content of non-ruderal cannabis strains.
Cannabis ruderalis plants will begin flowering/entering their reproducing cycle when it reaches a certain stage of maturity in its plant’s life; this usually happens around the 30-day mark but may vary from 5 to 8 weeks with different auto-flowering hybrids that have been paired with various cannabis species.
Once the cannabis plant enters the flowering phase it continues to produce flowers until either environmental factors (such as extreme climate change, like the arrival of the winter season) cause it to expire, or it otherwise reaches the natural end of its life; this will usually coincide with the end of the cannabis plant’s reproduction cycle.
Unique Growth Cycle
Because of the various climate roadblocks ruderalis has had to endure in order to survive it’s natural locales, the adaptations made by this low-THC species can be quite remarkable.
Short-and-cool summer seasons, paired with big fluctuations of the night’s duration, forced the ruderalis to adapt to the elements it was exposed to, to survive and fulfill its life mission of reproducing before dying by the freezing temperatures of winter climates.
The ruderalis is able to complete its life cycle within a short 10 weeks period (although 12-14 weeks can be observed frequently). The evolutionary path of the ruderalis’s seeds allow it to survive during the freezing winter months, with even years going by before the seeds have the chance to sprout, still fully capable of producing a healthy plant once the favorable conditions on land are presented again.
What is C. Ruderalis Used For?
As mentioned above, cannabis ruderalis produces rather small yields compared to the behemoths of indica-dominant genetics and 10ft high-sativas – Plus the ruderalis plant normally boasts a notoriously low THC content.
However, ruderalis species are great at producing an even 1:1 ratio of CBD/THC. For medical marijuana patients and consumers taking CBD or other cannabis products for health concerns, auto-flowering ruderalis hybrids can make a perfect option for a small, manageable plant that is easy to grow at home without taking up too much space.
Industrial growers are also looking at ruderalis hybrids as a great profit tool, by virtue of their quick life cycle and subsequent turn-around time. Hemp producers are able to turn over their active crop of flower much quicker than with traditional indica strains and sativas strains, resulting in more volume (and profit) in a year. Compared to photoperiod strains the auto-flowering capabilities of ruderalis gives more control to the growers on their yield as well.
The short stature of ruderalis hybrids can likewise be helpful for outdoors horticulturists, as they don’t have to worry about precise light deprivation, and indoor growers can take advantage of the auto-flowering characteristics to save up on light energy costs.
Is Ruderalis Legal?
Ruderalis is a subspecies of the cannabis plant just like the more well-known cannabis sativa and cannabis indica, meaning the laws and regulations already existing will apply in the same way for cannabis ruderalis as it does to any other THC-bearing plant.
Wherever cannabis is considered legal, whether for recreational or medical purposes, ruderalis will be legal in those states and/or countries under the cannabis legal framework those areas have put into place.
Where Can I Find Ruderalis Strains?
It may be a bit hard for consumers to find ruderalis strains available at their local dispensaries. For various reasons exposed earlier in this article, not many growers will put the effort into producing pure cannabis ruderalis products, as the costs/benefits are simply not there to justify fostering a ruderalis-only farm/grow production.
What you will be able to find is the product of human ingenuity often often referred to as “autos” or “matics” strains. These are a combination of high-THC indicas and sativas (with favorable growing characteristics and unique terpenes profiles) that have been paired with native ruderalis cannabis strains, producing a hybrid that aims to provide the best of both worlds.
Examples of high-percent THC strains that have auto-flowering capabilities and low-to-moderate levels of CBD are: Gorilla Cookies Auto (boasting a 27% THC level), Strawberry Pie Auto, Gelato Auto, and Wedding Glue Auto (all with a 26% THC level), while several other auto hybrid strains hit levels of over 20% THC content.
Other notable strain names include:
- Wedding Cheesecake Auto
- Zkittlez Auto
- Gorilla Glue Auto
- Orange Sherbert Auto
- Mimosa Cakes Auto
- Purple Punch Auto
The above are all great choices of seeds for those willing to try the auto-flowering methods when growing.
Ruderalis hybrids might just become a very important part of modern cannabis growing operations for its fast and efficient life cycles and shorter heights. Medical patients now have more suitable options for quality seeds in autos that allow for faster harvests in smaller spaces, and producers are able to create crops with faster, more reliable turn-around times, leading to more efficient growing production overall.
We hope our article on the ins-and-outs of cannabis ruderalis has left you feeling more informed. There’s still lots to learn about the world of cannabis types (did you know about cannabis rasta? Check the link for more info!) and when it comes to creating unique, interesting hybrids there’s never been a better point in history than now to see just what the various species of marijuana can accomplish when intelligently bred together.
Whether an auto-flowering hybrid or a pure strain of your favorite bud, as always, we wish you happy smoking!