Cultivars, Landraces, and Clones? No, Not Star Wars Characters But Medical Marijuana Crop Terms

Marijuana cultivars, landraces, and clones — what do these terms mean?

When you set out to learn more about medical marijuana, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed. We understand that the many terms related to cannabis can be hard to keep straight. We’re here to help!

If you’re looking to grow your own medical marijuana at home, you’ll want to understand these three terms:

  • Cultivar
  • Landrace
  • Clone

Let’s take a look at each of these plant genetic terms and how they relate to your medical marijuana plants.

What is a Cultivar?

When the term cultivar is used, it refers to a plant or group of plants that have been selected from a naturally occurring cannabis species and then deliberately propagated vegetatively through selective breeding.

A cultivar, short for cultivated variety, can be created and maintained through a variety of sources, including seed, grafting, and cloning.

A cultivar of medical marijuana with desirable characteristics can have those characteristics maintained through selective propagation. Taking a cutting, for example, is among the most popular ways to propagate a cultivar of cannabis.

In the modern cannabis world, there are three main cultivar groups that are maintained because of their characteristics:

  • Cultivars that possess particular cannabinoid concentrations – including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) — that make them ideal for adult use or medical marijuana purposes
  • Cultivars that possess long stems and little branching for the harvesting of their fibers (hemp)
  • Cultivars that produce seeds that can be eaten or pressed into oil

marijuana cultivar

What is a Landrace?

In terms of marijuana, a landrace is a cannabis strain that has developed over centuries on its own in its natural environment. These native, or indigenous, cannabis strains have naturally developed unique characteristics that allow them to better survive in their distinct environment and climate.

Cannabis is thought to have originated centuries ago in central Asia, eventually spreading throughout the world. Surviving relied on the species’ ability to adapt to new environments, adjust its characteristics, and spread its genetics. As a result, landrace marijuana strains vary in characteristics partly by region.

A landrace marijuana strain has never been bred systematically, and any changes to its characteristics and genetics are related to isolation, adaptations, and inbreeding that have occurred naturally. Because of today’s emphasis on crossbreeding, pure landrace strains are relatively rare and hard to come by.

Here’s a list of a few landrace marijuana strains that continue to grow in different regions around the world:

  • Chocolate Thai (Asia)
  • Hindu Kush (Afghanistan/Pakistan)
  • Lamb’s Bread (Jamaica)
  • Malawai (Africa)
  • Acapulco Gold (Mexico)
  • Colombian Gold (South and Central America)

what is marijuana landrace

What is a Clone?

Marijuana clones are a type of cultivar that are propagated asexually through methods like rooted cuttings, taken from a “mother plant.” Cloned cannabis plants are genetically identical to the plant they were taken from, guaranteeing a marijuana cultivar with the same characteristics and flowers that produce the same effects.

When cloning marijuana, the lower branches of the mother plant are cut close to the plant’s main stem, then rooted and eventually transplanted to create a new plant.

If you find a marijuana strain you particular enjoy for its flavor, cannabinoid profile, grow time, or yield, cuttings will allow you to replicate plants with those desirable features. Cloning marijuana plants can also save money and time, because you don’t have to purchase new seeds and it shortens the entire growth cycle by at least a month.

You’ll find various cannabis clones for sale at your local medical marijuana dispensary. You can also make a clone from your own marijuana garden with a razor, rooting hormone to promote healthy growth, and a rooting medium like soil or water.

Some strains, like Blue Dream, are largely available as clone only, meaning that you can only find new plants to grow as clones of existing plants.

marijuana clone cutting

Interested in Learning More?

You can learn even more medical marijuana basics, including how to grow your own plants, and the differences between various marijuana strains, by visiting our Cannabis 101 page.