OG Kush – A Phenotype by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

A Macro Shot of OG Kush Against a Black Backround

The true origin of OG Kush varies depending on who you talk to, but there are some commonalities to all the myths, namely that it began as a bag seed (a seed obtained from flowers or bud intended to be seedless) and most likely has Chemdawg genetics. The website Leafly says OG Kush is a hybrid of Chemdawg and Hindu Kush, but it also states “we can’t be sure because OG Kush first came from bag seed in the early ’90s.” DNA Genetics, who sells OG Kush seeds, says that it is a “bag seed from a Grateful Dead show.” If this is true, then there is no actual Kush genetics anywhere in OG Kush, or maybe there could be, but nobody knows because Chemdawg also has unknown genetics and is attributed to being discovered at Grateful Dead show in 1991 (hence Chemdawg 91).

The seedbank Dinafem tells a similar story, also involving a cutting of Chemdawg, when explaining how the “OG” got into OG Kush. Many competing theories exist as to what “OG” stands for, the most common two are “original gangsta” and ocean grown. Dinafem attributes the “original gangsta” meaning to the rap group Cypress Hill, but says that the ocean grown theory is more widely accepted by professional growers and more likely to be true. According to Dinafem, the ocean grown comes from a California grower named John who gave a cutting of Chemdawg to an LA-based grower named Putz, who crossed in a Lemon Thai/Pakistani Kush hybrid, and created OG Kush. The OG comes from someone telling Putz that his buds tasted mountain grown, his reply was “this Kush is ocean grown” and the rest is history.

Taste and Terpenes

The signature scent and flavor of OG Kush has been described as “an earthy pine and sour lemon scent with woody undertones,” also as a “deep pine smell which captivates the nostrils and might lead to you getting high just smelling it.” These descriptions lead one to assume that OG Kush would have elevated levels of limonene and pinene, it is also likely that OG Kush will have high amounts of myrcene since it is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis.

Strain fingerprinting done by Steep Hill Labs confirms that myrcene and limonene are the two primary terpenes in OG Kush, followed by β-caryophyllene and then pinene. Both limonene and pinene are known to produce uplifting and euphoric effects, and are likely a major reason for the sativa-like effects that some users report feeling from OG Kush. Myrcene can have a sedating effect that cannabis researchers think could be a major component in the couchlock feeling some users report from indica strains. The Reverend Dr. Kymron DeCesare, of Steep Hill Labs, has noted that “OG Kush is considered by most to be a strong couchlock flower at about 1.25 percent myrcene.”

Is it an Indica or a Sativa?

Again, this depends on who you talk to, and it may have a lot to do with the fact that there are over a dozen strains commonly sold on dispensary shelves which are actually just different phenotypes of OG Kush. Technically, different strains would have distinct genotypes, their own genetics which make them unique. If the genotype is the same, but there is a different physical expression, such as a taller plant or a plant that becomes purple, that is a different phenotype. The environment in which plants grow has a huge role in what their phenotype will be, for example a phosphorous deficiency can stunt a plant’s growth making it appear more like an indica rather than taller like a sativa. Sometimes different phenotypes can also result in more than just physical differences, such as two Kush strains having radically different terpene/cannabinoid profiles.

According to Dinafem, OG Kush is “75 percent indica and 25 percent sativa,” this would make OG Kush a pretty heavy indica, which many users would expect to give them a relaxing effect. Despite this, many OG Kush fans report that it produces sativa-like uplifting effects, which could certainly be true given the pure sativa Thai genetics crossed into the Lemon Thai Kush that is potentially a parent of OG Kush. Much of the discrepancy over whether or not OG Kush is an indica or a sativa may come from recent research which shows that we don’t really know what is a sativa, what actually is an indica and if those are even the terms we should be using.

In my nearly six years working in the cannabis industry I have come across 16 different OG phenotypes being sold on shelves next to other OG phenotypes, named differently and treated as different strains, with many patients and budtenders unaware they had the same genetics. First, of course there is OG Kush, and then in alphabetical order we have Alpha OG, Boss OG, Butter OG,  Ghost OG, Khalifa Kush, Larry OG, Lee Roy (the only one without OG in the name), Legends OG, Presidential OG, SFV OG Kush, Skywalker OG, Steve’s OG (50/50), Tahoe OG Kush, True OG Kush, and Triple X OG Kush. I have also seen some of these strains, namely Butter OG and Skywalker OG, referred to as hybrids of other strains with OG Kush rather than a different phenotype, further compounding uncertainty. On top of the different phenotypes, there are the legion of OG hybrids, including numerous back-crosses, such as Fire OG, which is OG Kush crossed with an SFV OG Kush pheno.

Like the Chemdawg which gave rise to OG Kush, there is more mystery than certainty. But, people do love a mystery, which may be one reason why OG Kush is one of the best loved strains of all time.

Do you smoke OG Kush? Tell us about it below.

Mitchell Colbert became a cannabis activist when he was busted for possession at nineteen years old and was inspired to educate others to know their rights. He has written for Weedist, AlterNet, High Times, Cannabis Now Magazine and runs a blog called wellsuitedforlife.com. He's a former chapter president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and was a regional director for 2010's Prop 19 campaign to legalize cannabis in California.

4 Comments

  1. DavidWilhoax

    June 23, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Hi, there are multiple OG Kushes.

    OG was attributed to ‘kill’ back in the day in LA, where Kush-region genetics were already popular for their effects, distinctly mountain or valley. Kush is Kush (and OG Kush is OG, not Kush) .

    This is the same time period the NorCal “Nope, Ocean Grown” event attached a name to this terp-phenol profile. The name started to spread and growers in LA immediately tried to identify something similar in the local library, and they had it. Og was no longer a generic term for dank in LA.

    Then we have Crippy and southern landraces.. The OverGrow forum cut is another “OG” added to the mix. You can define pick them apart after a while, only one being a SD relative.

    • DavidWilhoax

      June 23, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      I forgot to mention, the SD version can be detected by high levels of delta9-Thc vs Thc-a

      Terpine tests only take you so far, as the grow method effects the smell as much as genetics, and the sharpness and resin smells are typically phenol alcohols, not Terpines or flavinoids.

    • Shane Mansfield

      November 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Hey Dave,

      So if I understand your post correctly you’re saying that OG Kush didn’t come from one source? And in fact were different genetics grown in different regions of the country? Please correct me if I’m wrong because like any grower / breeder / strain Hound I’m fascinated by not only cannabis genetics but at the moment specifically the whole chemdog / Sour Diesel Kush OG Kush Saga if you will. Lol 🙂
      I have a question for you? That sounded silly… Personally the OG Ringo is high on my list we’ve been running it for a minute and I just happen to have some about 30 minutes ago. At any rate my question is what are your favorite OG? And if you had to rely solely on internet Seedbank to obtain and OG Kush. What would that be? Likewise with the chemdog and Sour Diesel same question?

  2. cowboy sumo

    March 4, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve only smoked strains and variants of OG. All have been great.

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