Cannabis Ruderalis: What Is It and How Is It Different from Sativa or Indica?

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis is a curious species that has remained in the shadows of indica and sativa varieties for too long. 

We believe that this particular strain should receive the attention it deserves, as it has contributed to a plethora of contemporary strains of cannabis.

In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about cannabis ruderalis and how it is different from sativa or indica.

What is Cannabis Ruderalis?

Once believed to be the parent of other cannabis varieties, cannabis ruderalis is now accepted as its own species. It’s a hardy variety of cannabis that currently grows wild throughout Russia and Central Asia. It’s also an invaluable species for cannabis breeders, who have been cross-breeding ruderalis with other species to create hybrids with traits unique to the ruderalis variety, such as the autoflowering effect.

Cannabis ruderalis is visibly smaller than indicas and sativas, growing a smaller number of side branches and palm-like leaves. Because of that, ruderalis often produces smaller yields of flower compared to other varieties. It’s a great feature for medical marijuana patients who want to grow their own medicine but have limited space indoors. 

Cannabis ruderalis plants also don’t need special lighting, which means they’re also perfect for outdoor fields at any latitude.

The Origins of Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis probably originated thousands of years ago in the regions of Central and Eastern Europe — specifically Russia — and Asia. It still grows there as a weed.

The name “ruderalis” comes from the word “ruderal”, which in the botanical world refers to a species that is the first to be distributed by humans and colonize land. You can find ruderalis growing even near high-traffic areas such as roadways.

Cannabis ruderalis was first put into botanical annals in 1924 by a Russian Botanist D.E. Janischewsky, who was studying cannabis and noticed a plant with different seeds, shape and size than other previously described varieties.

How Can You Use the Autoflowering Effect of Ruderalis?

Autoflowering means that the plant transitions from the vegetative stage into the flowering stage regardless of changes in light cycle.

The flowering stage is particularly important for medical marijuana patients, as this is when the cannabis plant produces flowers that carry high concentrations of cannabinoids and other beneficial molecules. Regardless of the light-to-dark ratio, modern ruderalis plants start to flower on their own up to 4 weeks after they germinate from seeds.

This trait is unique to cannabis ruderalis. Indica and sativa plants are “photoperiod”, meaning the flowers can begin to grow only once introduced to a minimum 12 hours of lights-off each day. The grower must often trigger the flowering stage with photoperiod varieties by manipulating the lighting settings.

How is the autoflowering effect useful for growers? Well, having an autoflowering plant means that it will grow anywhere and produce flowers throughout the entire year. You don’t need to pay as much attention to creating a strictly controlled environment for your crops unlike with photoperiod species.

Cannabis Ruderalis: Cannabinoid Profile and Effects

Cannabis ruderalis has naturally higher levels of CBD than THC. In fact, there’s very little THC in ruderalis plants.

This means that it’s difficult to get high from using this species. Ruderalis plants are a more popular choice among those consumers who want to experience the natural benefits of cannabis but aren’t interested in the euphoric effects that are typically linked to marijuana use.

Higher levels of CBD have also benefited breeders, who will cross ruderalis strains with indica and sativa plants to achieve autoflowering hybrids with a higher CBD content. Crossing cannabis ruderalis with sativa strains can also make them more manageable to grow indoors.

How is Cannabis Ruderalis Different from Sativa or Indica?

In this section, we’ll cover the most important differences between cannabis indica, sativa, and ruderalis.

  • Flowering: Ruderalis plants have the ability to automatically trigger the flowering stage — indica and sativa don’t.
  • Appearance: Ruderalis plants are typically short — they grow under two feet — and they share more genetic traits with cannabis indica. Similar to this variety, ruderalis plants are also short and bulky, with wide leaves. On top of that, ruderalis has excellent resistance to insects and diseases.
  • Yields: Cannabis ruderalis produces significantly less flower compared to indicas and sativas. The buds are small but chunky.
  • Cannabinoid makeup: Similarly to hemp, ruderalis plants have higher levels of CBD and are naturally low in THC. Consuming a purebred ruderalis strain for getting high would be counterproductive, but it can be used for anxiety, pain, epilepsy, inflammation, and other conditions where CBD proves beneficial.
  • Uses: Ruderalis is mostly used for breeding autoflowering hybrids. It can also be harvested several times during one outdoor season, which makes them the most popular seed choice for novice growers. However, cannabis ruderalis plants don’t have many uses outside of the growing spectrum.

Is Cannabis Ruderalis the Same as Hemp?

Cannabis ruderalis and hemp are two completely different plants, although some of their traits might suggest otherwise.

Even though cannabis ruderalis has very low levels of THC (below 3%), this content is still significantly higher than in hemp, which has around 0.3% THC.

Hemp is a more versatile plant than ruderalis — it’s used around the world for a plethora of purposes, including food, health supplements, fabrics, paper, bioplastic, biofuel, and construction materials (hempcrete).

Cannabis ruderalis is just a wild subspecies of cannabis, and besides using it for cross-breeding with sativa and indica strains, it doesn’t really have any other commercial applications yet.

Is Ruderalis Legal?

Cannabis ruderalis is only legal in countries where other types of high-THC cannabis are allowed. In order to be classified similarly to hemp, ruderalis should have less than 0.3% THC.

Can Ruderalis Get You High?

Ruderalis plants have very little THC, and as such, they don’t create a typical high associated with other classic high-CBD marijuana strains. It can give you some very mild psychoactive effects — actually on the verge of psychoactive — but they’re nowhere near the effects coming from regular weed.

Final Thoughts on Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis has been greatly underestimated until recently. Due to the lack of psychoactive effects and only one commercial use so far, it has stood in the shadows of indica and sativa plants for a very long time.

And for much too long, we should add.

We hope that this article has shed enough light on cannabis ruderalis and its differences between sativa or indica strains. If you’ve ever grown your own plants using ruderalis strains, let us know in the comment section!

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