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

OG Kush photo by Gabe Perry


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

The true origin of OG Kush varies depending on who you talk to; some say 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 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 the strain would have elevated levels of limonene and pinene, it is also likely that it 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 it 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 it is one of the best-loved strains of all time.

TELL US, do you smoke OG Kush?

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