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Species of Cannabis: Ruderalis and Hybrids

(From left) sativa, indica and ruderalis/Photo courtesy "Idiots Guide: Growing Marijuana"


Species of Cannabis: Ruderalis and Hybrids

Due to the federal illegality of cannabis, no one is truly sure how many species of cannabis there are. However, sativa, indica and ruderalis are typically considered the three main species of cannabis, with top strains of each of these species sometimes combined to create hybrids.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Although it’s not nearly as popular as indica and sativa, ruderalis has become a more prevalent species in more recent years. Originating from Central Russia, it has a similar chemical profile to hemp and contains very low levels of THC.


The name ruderalis comes from the word ruderal, a term used by botanists to describe hardy, non-domesticated plants. So any breed of cannabis that has the ability to adapt to extreme environments and avoid human cultivation has been classified as ruderalis. Only recently have indoor growers begun to utilize the characteristics of the ruderalis plant to influence new hybrid varieties.

Plant Characteristics

This stalky species of cannabis only grows to a height of 1 to 21⁄2 feet tall (30.5cm to .75m) and produces small, chunky buds. But what really differentiates the ruderalis from indica and sativa is its flowering cycle. Unlike the other cannabis species, ruderalis’s flowering cycle is induced according to its maturity and not by the photoperiod (seasonal changes in night length), a process known as auto-flowering. This auto-flowering can begin in as little as 21 days.


Over time, growers have combined their top indica, sativa, or ruderalis strains to create strains with the best aspects of both parents, known as hybrids. One well-known hybrid is Afghanica. This strain, once erroneously identified as indica, is an indica-predominant strain with a potent and sedating high. Great for indoor or outdoor growing, the plant can grow between 5 and 6 feet (1 and 2m) tall, depending on the setting.

Another well-known type of hybrid is an auto-flowering strain. As you might expect, this comes from cross-breeding a strain with ruderalis. Very popular with growers, this hybrid is easy to grow due to the short time from seed to harvest and its ability to flower when mature rather than when seasonal changes happen.

Reprinted from “Idiot’s Guides: Growing Marijuana” by permission of Alpha Books, an imprint of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.

Originally published in Issue 26 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, ruderalis is very rare, have you ever seen a ruderalis strain?

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