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Where Strain Names Come From


If you’ve never spent much time around marijuana, walking into a dispensary can have some interesting aspects you may not be prepared for, one of the most consistently hilarious being the names of marijuana strains. There are hundreds if not thousands of different strains, though they are not as random as they seem. While some can be informative and others just seem to be random or silly, there are more clues in the names as to what you can expect from certain strains than most people realize, even allowing you to accurately imagine what kinds of effects a strain you’ve never seen before will have on you, if named properly.

Ultimately the names should always be some kind of reference to the genetics of the two parent plants that created whatever strain it is that you are considering buying. For instance, several strains can be found with “Kush” somewhere in their name, a sort of suffix that can tell you a few different things. Generally these strains are named because are descendants of a subset of indica plants that originally grew in the Hindu Kush mountain range around Afghanistan and India. These will generally be more on the relaxed, euphoric side unless they have been crossed with something particularly racy.

Chem and Dawg are two other qualifiers that can be found a lot in different strains, Cali Chem, Chem Forum, Alien Dawg, Ghost Dawg, and both refer to the strain Chemdawg. This strain is very popular as it crosses well with other strains and produces very well harvestwise. It can also have many different effects when combined with other strains, but in my experience they all generally carry a high THC content and a bit more of an uplifting effect that some other strains, whether they come out more on the Indica or Sativa side. It is also one of the parent plants of Sour Diesel, another strain that can be found littered into tons of strains, anything with “sour” or “diesel” in the name generally containing some amount of Chemdawg as well.

One of the most disputed qualifiers that you can find in marijuana names is OG, which has several different possible translations, none of which truly confirmed or denied. There are a few stories that relate it to the phrase “Original Gangster,” in relation to few different rappers or rap groups having coined it, while other speculation is that it can refer to “Original Genetics,” sort of relating it to be descendant of a land race. The most credible story that I have come across is that a breeder took some Afghan genetics to California and managed to grow it as solid as it originally grew in a much different climate, then explaining that the plants were not mountain grown but were “Ocean Grown.” This distinction gets thrown around a bit more than it should, sometimes with growers just adding it on for no reason to feign credibility.

Another thing that doesn’t show up too often is phenotype numbers. When you grow marijuana from seeds each one has the potential to be slightly different in it’s effects, though generally sticking to the same kind of feeling per strain. These different phenotypes can sometimes get renamed into new strains but some companies retain their original names with numerical notations to track batches of different phenotypes. For instance, Bruce Banner is a very popular strain but not that many people realize that the phenotype they have probably had is the Bruce Banner 5. This can sometimes cause distress when your favorite strain is just not as good as usual, it could be because it is a different phenotype.

So while there may be a list in front of you with twenty or so names you don’t recognize or that sound made up, ask about their genetics. With the freedom to grow and experiment that we have in this industry there is so much more opportunity for finding the perfect strain for you. Make note of what works and what doesn’t, try new strains whenever you can. If you decide that Diesel trains aren’t for you, you’ll know that anything on the list that says “Sour” might be a waste of your time, allowing you to narrow down your experience and get you closer to your perfect strain.


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