Cannabis Ruderalis

Most marijuana users are familiar with two strains of cannabis but have never heard of cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa is mentally stimulating with an energizing experience, while cannabis indica provides a deep sense of physical relaxation.

Of all the strains of cannabis (sativa, indica, ruderalis), ruderalis is the least well-known. This article will explain this type of cannabis and provide some reasons why you should get to know ruderalis. 

While C. ruderalis was first classified in 1924 by a Russian botanist studying wild cannabis, it’s said to have originated throughout Asia, Central, and Eastern Europe.

Many researchers believe Cannabis ruderalis is a robust version of cannabis that evolved into ruderalis seeds due to exposure to inadequate growing conditions.

Ruderalis survived the harsh climatic conditions and shorter growing seasons of the northern and southern parts of the old Soviet Union, where the strain originated.

While some historians see ruderalis as a distinct species, it’s widely believed to have evolved from indica types, which in turn are most likely to have developed from sativa varieties.

Ruderalis strain with leaves
A cannabis ruderalis plant

The name ruderalis comes from the Latin words ruderal or rudera, which becomes rudus in plural form. Interestingly, it means means “rubble” in English. Ruderal species colonize and grow in environments affected by naturally occurring disturbances or inhabited by humans.

Cannabis ruderalis seeds easily detach from the plant and survive dormant in the frozen ground while waiting for growth conditions to become favorable. They’re tough; even when they’re cracked open, they still can continue living.

How does Ruderalis Differ from Sativa and Indica?

Cannabis ruderalis strains and the other varieties are all linked to Cannabis sativa L., the original tropical phenotype that spread north of the equator after the last ice age.

However, as it encountered different climates, these three types evolved with adaptive and reproductive mechanisms to survive in their new environments.

For example, cannabis plants in areas with weaker sunlight tend to have larger leaves to help them absorb more sunlight.

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    However, the major difference between C. ruderalis and the other types of cannabis is that ruderalis plants can flower based on maturity.

    Unlike typical flowering plants that reproduce based on the influence of daylight, darkness, and seasonal weather changes, ruderalis strains can reproduce according to the plant’s age. 

    Ruderalis Super Skunk feminized autoflower plant
    Ruderalis – Super Skunk feminized autoflower plant

    This trait earned the ruderalis ‘species’ the name autoflowering because ruderalis varieties flower on their own around 21-30 days into their vegetative cycle. As long as C. ruderalis isn’t killed by frost (quite unlikely), it can continue flowering through the entire season.

    Auto-flowering plants can reproduce based on changes in the plant instead of the environment. While photoperiod dependent plants rely on light and dark hours to grow, some autoflowers can flower after 3-4 weeks of growth until environmental factors such as winter cause it to die.

    Typically, after 5-7 weeks of vegetative growth, Cannabis ruderalis starts to flower on its own, and you can easily predict when it should die off.

    Many researchers believe that Cannabis ruderalis must have developed this auto-flowering ability to survive the long daylight hours (22-24 hours) and short summers of its originating habitat.

    For their auto-flowering characteristics, ruderalis plants are now popular among cannabis growers who want to grow hybrids with auto-flowering abilities.

    Main Characteristics of the Ruderalis Weed Plant

    C. ruderalis is the smallest variety of cannabis. Ruderalis plants have small and dense buds, thick and sturdy stems, limited branches, and fewer flowers than other cannabis species.

    They typically grow below 2 feet and are highly resistant to insects, pests, and diseases.

    Since ruderalis plants are small and produce fewer flowers, their yield is significantly smaller than sativa and indica.

    However, the short stature of ruderalis plants makes it easier for growers with limited indoor space that want to grow cannabis at home.

    Ruderalis weed plants are also known to have significant levels of cannabidiol, making them ideal for therapeutic use.

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    Height

    Cannabis ruderalis is a very short plant that typically grows between 1 and 2.5 feet tall. That’s why it’s often called “bonsai cannabis” or “dwarf cannabis.”

    Ruderalis varieties also only produce a few branches. So, right from the flowering stage, a ruderalis plant will be shorter than an indica.

    A fully grown ruderalis plant (typically between 30 and 80 centimeters, or 10 and 30 inches) is significantly smaller than mature sativa or indica plants.

    Cannabis ruderalis, Sativa and Indica plant height compared
    Cannabis ruderalis plant height compared to Sativa and Indica

    Leaves

    Ruderalis plants have pale green leaves that are quite broad. Since they are the smallest among the three cannabis strains, a fully grown ruderalis leaf might only have 5 to 13 leaflets.

    Ruderalis leaves are short, wide, and fat-bladed, just like indica leaves.

    However, indica leaves can be narrower at times, and ruderalis plants have fewer leaves overall than both indicas and sativas.

    Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis plant leaves
    Leaf comparison – Sativa vs. Indica vs. Ruderalis

    Buds

    The buds from ruderalis plants are typically smaller than those grown by Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. However, ruderalis plants have thick, sturdy stems that support their buds. While they tend to be small and sparse, the buds are relatively chunky and dense in structure.

    Cannabis ruderalis buds in closeup view growing indoors

    Stems

    Ruderalis plants have thick stems that grow sparse nodes and provide support for the flowers, leaves, and buds. They influence the robust nature of ruderalis plants and create a foundation that supports more buds when they are mixed with other cannabis varieties. The stem also contains vascular tissues that carry water and nutrients around the plant.

    A cannabis ruderalis plant with thick stems growing outdoors

    Cannabinoids

    C. ruderalis is known as a low-THC and high-CBD variety of cannabis. Ruderalis is rarely grown for recreational use because of its significantly lower tetrahydrocannabinol levels(THC) than sativas or indicas. However, it’s mainly grown for its high levels of cannabidiol (CBD). This makes it suitable for therapeutic use by those who would love to enjoy the benefits of CBD without the psychoactive high of THC.

    Effects of Cannabis Ruderalis

    Pure ruderalis strains are typically low in THC and quite high in CBD. While both cannabinoids can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and influence the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, they generally have unique effects.

    Cannabis ruderalis is high in CBD
    Cannabis ruderalis is high in CBD

    Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is capable of mimicking anandamide, a natural brain chemical that influences normal brain communication and produces a sense of high or euphoria. However, since Cannabis ruderalis has low THC levels, it doesn’t have any of these significant “high” effects.

    The psychotropic effects that THC provides are the primary reason for its popularity among recreational marijuana users. However, this is the same reason why Cannabis ruderalis is very unpopular for this group of users – because it has extremely low THC levels, it simply doesn’t get users high.

    Effects of cannabis ruderalis
    Cannabis ruderalis is very low in THC – as an effect, it doesn’t get you high

    CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have the euphoric effects that THC does. It does, however, have positive effects on conditions such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, research speculates that at high doses, CBD can reduce the intoxicating and sedating effects of THC. 

    The high level of CBD in ruderalis plants is responsible for its popularity. Many people rely on ruderalis because they can get the calming effects and other CBD benefits without the euphoria and high that comes with THC. The cannabis ruderalis effects can, therefore, be highly beneficial for some. 

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    Breeding the Ruderalis Plant to Grow Hybrids

    Ruderalis plants are useful for more than their CBD. While they might not have psychoactive properties, their ability to flower without the need for environmental growth factors makes them useful to cannabis breeders. As previously mentioned, ruderalis flowers according to their age, not light changes. This means it can be bred with C. sativa and C. indica strains to create new hybrid autoflowering cannabis strains. 

    The autoflowering ability of ruderalis plants is highly beneficial to breeders because they can experience multiple harvests in one growing season, unlike photoperiod strains.

    Breeding the ruderalis plant to grow hybrids
    Breeding the ruderalis plant to grow hybrids

    Ruderalis also provide other benefits when hybridized. For example, if you breed ruderalis strains with sativa strains, you’re likely to create a hybrid that can be grown outdoors because it now has the disease resistance of the ruderalis strain. Although sativa strains can’t reasonably be grown indoors because of their height, breeding a sativa with a ruderalis could lead to a hybrid that is a bit shorter, thanks to the diminutive nature of ruderalis.

    While ruderalis strains are very low in THC, using ruderalis in cannabis hybrids, don’t automatically decrease the level of THC. If you want to maintain THC levels, simply cross a ruderalis strain with a high THC strain

    Cannabis ruderalis might not be high in THC, but it is extremely valuable to the cannabis community. With its sturdiness and autoflowering capacity, growers can create their ideal hybrid that can grow under nearly any condition. 

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      FAQs About Cannabis Ruderalis

      What are some cannabis ruderalis strains?

      You won’t find a pure cannabis ruderalis strain; however, many breeders call hybrid strains with large amounts of cannabis ruderalis by this name. A popular ruderalis dominant strain is Carmagnola.

      Do ruderalis genetics grow faster?

      Many autoflowering strains grow faster than non-autoflowering strains; however, this is not always the case. For the fastest harvest, choose from our fast-flowering seeds

      Do ruderalis plants have less yield?

      Ruderalis plants are smaller and will therefore yield fewer flowers. To learn how to get the most from an autoflowering plant, read this guide on increasing yield

      Have you ever grown a cannabis ruderalis strain? Leave a comment below or post any question you may have.

      Happy growing!

      Robert

      Robert Bergman

      Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations. His passion for growing lead him to develop his own Gold Leaf strain. Now, Robert is dedicated to sharing his knowledge with the world.... [Read full bio]

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