What is Cannabis Ruderalis?

Unlike what you may think, Cannabis ruderalis is not a cannabis strain. Most consumers are familiar with two subspecies of cannabis, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. But most have never learned of the third species: Cannabis ruderalis. A hardy little plant that was only used in the early 2000s to crossbreed existing strains and create autoflowers. Learn more about Cannabis ruderalis and the differences between the subspecies.

What is Cannabis ruderalis?

Native toRussia and Eastern Europe
DiscoveredIn 1924 in Southern Siberia
Used forBreeding autoflowers
CultivationA tough plant that grows easily
Flowering2-4 weeks post-germination
Cannabis ruderalis at a glance

Cannabis ruderalis is the third subspecies of the cannabis plant, discovered in 1924 by Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewski when he was researching cannabis subspecies in Southern Siberia.

Many researchers believe cannabis ruderalis is a robust version of cannabis that evolved due to exposure to harsh growing conditions. They are hardy plants that have learned to survive in their native regions of Southern Siberia and Eastern European countries like Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus. The short growing season, long daylight hours (22-24 hours), and harsh environment are led to believe to have forced the plants to flower based on maturity instead of the photoperiod.

Ruderalis seeds easily fall from the plant and survive dormant in the frozen ground while waiting for growth conditions to become more favorable. They’re tough; even when they’re cracked open, they may still be able to sprout.

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

The name ruderalis comes from ruderal which springs from the Latin word Rudus, roughly translating to “rubble” in English. Ruderal species are defined as species first to grow after an environment and its topsoil have been affected by disturbances like wildfires or human activities.

If you’re interested in this information, you will probably like my Marijuana Grow Bible as well. I created this as a one-stop ebook that you can download for free and easily learn all about growing your own.

The differences between ruderalis, sativa, and indica

NativeEquator areasHindu Kush mountainsRussia, Eastern Europe
SizeTall and lankyStout and bushySmall, few branches
LeavesThin and longShorter and wideFewer wide leaves
FloweringPhotoperiodPhotoperiodBased on maturity

Cannabis ruderalis is said to have traveled from its Cannabis sativa and indica origins toward colder and harsher conditions. This has changed the plant over the course of time. However, the major difference between ruderalis and the other subspecies is that ruderalis plants can flower based on maturity.

Indica and sativa plants bloom based on the influence of darkness and light (the photoperiod). Ruderalis plants start to flower based on the plant’s age. This trait earned the ruderalis species the descriptive ‘autoflowering’ because ruderalis varieties flower automatically after around 21-30 days into their grow cycle. As long as cannabis ruderalis isn’t killed by frost, it can continue flowering through the entire season.

Read more about the subspecies of cannabis in our article Cannabis Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, and Hybrids.

Ruderalis plant
A cannabis Ruderalis plant

Characteristics of the Cannabis ruderalis plant

Size1 to 2.5 feet
StemThick and sturdy
BranchesShart and just a few
LeavesSimilar to indica but with fewer long blades
BudsSmall and dense, not many
CultivationHighly resistant to pests and diseases
YieldSignificantly less than indica and sativa
CannabinoidsLow on THC, high on CBD

Cannabis ruderalis is the smallest variety of cannabis. It typically grows between 1 and 2.5 feet (30-80 cm) tall and is significantly smaller than mature sativa or indica plants. That’s why it’s often called “bonsai cannabis” or “dwarf cannabis.”

Ruderalis plants have thick stems that grow sparse nodes. They represent the robust nature of ruderalis plants and create a foundation that supports their leaves and flowers. Ruderalis varieties only grow a few branches, leading to just a couple of chunky, dense flowers.

Ruderalis plants have pale green leaves that are quite broad with a small amount of taller leaflets.

Leaf comparison – Sativa vs. Indica vs. Ruderalis
Leaf comparison – Sativa vs. Indica vs. Ruderalis

Breeding cannabis ruderalis to grow autoflowers

Cannabis ruderalis is not used in itself for consumption, but it has some desirable traits that make them great for crossbreeding. Their ability to flower without the need for light reduction makes them very useful to cannabis breeders. It can be bred with sativa and indica strains to create new hybrid autoflowering cannabis strains. The autoflowering ability of ruderalis plants is highly beneficial to growers, while the THC levels of existing indica and sativa strains make them great for consumers.

Some benefits of growing autoflowers:

  • Don’t require light management
  • Grow from seed to harvest in two to three months
  • Don’t require as much fertilizer
  • Don’t take up a lot of space
  • Are tough and resistant plants

Faster is always better when it comes to harvesting your weed. With ruderalis genetics, an autoflower grows faster than its photoperiod equivalent. Where other indoor plants take three to five months until harvest time, autoflowers can be ready for harvesting within ten to twelve weeks.

The downside of small ruderalis plant genetics is that they yield less than their bigger sisters. Photoperiod plants are still highly valuable to commercial growers, but nowadays you see many home growers opting for the ease and fast-growing autoflower variants.

Head over to this article if you want to learn the history of how autoflowers were created.

Cannabis ruderalis was a key ingredient in crossbreeding existing cannabis sativa and cannabis indica strains and creating autoflowers—an easy-growing, low-maintenance cannabis plant for every type of grower. Check out our selection of autoflower seeds.

bergman holding autoflower plant

Buy Autoflower Seeds

  • For new and experienced growers
  • Easy-growing, low maintenance
  • All popular cultivars

What else is Cannabis ruderalis used for?

You won’t find a pure cannabis ruderalis strain, but another desirable trait of Cannabis ruderalis is its levels of the cannabinoid; CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is the psychoactive substance in sativas and indicas. CBD on the other hand is often sought after to help with certain mental and physical ailments. The benefits of CBD crossed with existing strains is perfect for people looking to combine the best of both worlds to help make life more convenient for them.

A popular ruderalis dominant strain is Carmagnola, but we sell more CBD-rich strains in my store.

robert bergman with cbd cannabis plant

Buy high-CBD Seeds

  • High levels of CBD
  • Low THC for a mellow effect
  • Available as fems and autoflowers

Learn more about Cannabis ruderalis

There’s much to learn about growing Cannabis ruderalis’ offspring, the autoflowers. I’ve gathered this list of topics you may be interested in:

Choosing what to grow next?

If you’re looking what to grow and you want to learn more about cannabis seeds. Be sure to dive into these guides:

Have you ever grown a Cannabis ruderalis strain? Leave a comment below or download my Marijuana Grow Bible for free and start your first grow.

Happy growing!


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Mr Robert Bergman PhD


Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations ... See profile

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4 comments on “What is Cannabis Ruderalis?”

  1. Hi there,

    Thanks for your question. Autos will flower around 3-6 weeks into growing in general. So 7 weeks is a bit out of the ordinary, yes.
    If they do not start flowering before week 8, you may in fact be growing photo-periods.
    Let us know if you ordered these with us (I could not find any orders associated with you email address).
    If not, you may want to contact the seedbank in question about this.

    Kind regards,

  2. So I have 3 autos at week 7 and still showing no pistils yet is this normal for autos? Also the have really thick fingered Leaves

  3. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for your comment. If it is a genuine ruderalis plant, it will have some decent CBD levels, but neglectable THC levels, so it won’t be very likely to get you high. But you could still use it for its CBD properties.

    We hope this helps, but let us know if you have further questions, of course!
    Kind regards,

  4. I am raising a Ruderalis weed plant. I got the seed from a friend. This plant is beautiful and it is only 10 weeks old. I planted it in the end of May. I have huge buds on top, many others are growing a good size it won’t be ready until Oct, November I was told. I am wondering if this plant will get me high? I will have to wait and See I guess.. I think this is an auto – flowering plant. It is beautiful Plant.