Where does weed grow naturally

Cannabis, like every other cultivated crop, started off as a naturally occurring plant. Feral cannabis plants are hardy plants that produce seeds that can lay dormant for 7-10 years. But these wild plants don’t nearly have as much THC as the strains we cultivate today. Where did the ancestors of that sticky-icky you’re puffing on right now come from? Are they still around?

Where does marijuana grow naturally?

Before we answer the question of ‘where does weed grow naturally’? It’s important first to know the two main types of wild cannabis and their ideal growing conditions. For the uninitiated, the two main types are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. And although indica and sativa share the same basic growing requirements, the two differ.

Indica strains produce shorter and bushier plants. Despite their unassuming look, indica plants can handle harsh and unpredictable weather. It’s a trait that they needed to adapt to the wide-ranging climate of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

marijuana plants growing outdoors
Cannabis plant growing naturally

The eastern region of the Hindu Kush is known for its snowy or rainy summers and dry winters. Conversely, the central and western regions are more known for their dry summers and wet winters. Additionally, buds produced from indica cannabis plants are generally larger and denser than sativas.

Sativa strains prefer warmer climates, which is apparent by how it grows. Unlike indica strains, sativas produce taller and lankier plants with narrow leaves. This is to help conserve water. In terms of nutrients, sativas grow taller in soil with more nitrogen. 

The origins of the cannabis plant

The origins of cannabis can be traced back to Central Asia, roughly 3,000 years ago. Emperor Shen Nung listed it in his pharmacopeia. But, way before it was documented, cannabis was already being grown by early farmers for a variety of reasons. Early humans grew the plant for its fibers to make rope and textiles and for its medicinal properties. Its psychoactive properties were also used for both religious and recreational use.

early references of cannabis use from ancient China
Early references of cannabis use from ancient China

As for where cannabis grew in Central Asia, it’s agreed that it evolved on the eastern Tibetan Plateau. However, some may argue that cannabis originated in the Himalayas (specifically, in the Hindu Kush mountain range). And to an extent, that is true, as you’ll find the earliest indica varieties there. However, its origins in the Tibetan Plateau are in Asia.

Cannabis plants origins may actually be in East Asia

The prevailing belief is that cannabis’s origins began in the general region of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, a region we call Central Asia. But, a recent study questions that claim in favor of East Asia. The initial study aimed to determine when and where cannabis was first domesticated. To achieve this, the researchers gathered 110 different cannabis varieties worldwide.

This research led to what’s called the basal lineage of cannabis. This lineage is neither hemp nor marijuana but instead the progenitor of the two. This original cannabis may no longer exist in East Asia and is likely extinct; however, it is the actual parent of all cannabis.

Knowing where your plant originated is one thing, but growing it to the best of your abilities is key. Learn how to grow the best you can with my FREE Grow Bible

Regions where weed can grow wild

Dry Regions

Hot but dry areas with low precipitation are ideal for wild cannabis. They’re mostly composed of arid and semiarid regions like steppes and deserts. These zones also have high evaporation rates and wide temperature swings. The central part of the Hindu Kush mountain range also shares this climate. A few popular strains of cannabis grow wild in steppe climates. One of these includes Hindu Kush, which got its name from the mountain it naturally grows on.

Temperate Regions

Temperate regions are generally characterized by warm yet wet summers with mild winters. The climate is tepid in most areas but not in every region. Places like Cape Town, South Africa, have dry summers. For this type of region, it’s best to choose cannabis seeds that can handle temperate climates. For those in the subtropical region of the temperate zone, we recommend growing strains like Durban Poison.

Tropical Regions

Tropical regions are known for being hot and humid with high precipitation. They also have high average temperatures. It’s no wonder that pure sativas thrive in these regions. But sativa hybrids can also flourish in tropical climates. Strains like Orient Express and Strawberry Cough are good examples of this.

Feral vs.Wild Weed

There is a difference between feral and wild marijuana. Wild weed refers to marijuana that grows naturally in the region. You’ll find wild weed in places like the Hindu Kush mountain range or the eastern Tibetan Plateau. Feral weed, meanwhile, refers to wild-growing cannabis introduced in the region. Feral cannabis is often the result of hemp cultivation, which was legal until the early-1900s. Since then, many wild cannabis strains have grown wild in some parts of North America, earning the name “ditch weed” or roadside weed.

Marijuana plant in the wild
Feral cannabis (aka “Ditch weed”)

Ditch weed, as it’s called in the United States, is hardy and difficult to get rid of. And like dandelions, attempts to eradicate ditch weed have failed. If you have ever wondered where weed grows naturally in the U.S., it’s prolific in states like Indiana, southern Minnesota, and Missouri. You wild also see wild cannabis marijuana plants aka roadside weed found in the Midwest.

Where does weed grow naturally in the world?

Hindu Kush Mountains

Many people believe that the Hindu Kush mountains are where weed naturally grows since that’s where the second species of cannabis plant was collected. Described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck as “short and bushy,” he named this second species Cannabis Indica. There, it grew naturally along the mountainous terrain around Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Hindu Kush mountains are also where the first indica landrace strains evolved.

Hindu kush marijuana strain

Buy Hindu Kush Seeds

  • 100% indica strain
  • THC levels up to 18%
  • Great for dry and warm climates
  • Nice subtle relaxing and calming effect

Two of the most iconic landraces came from the Hindu Kush mountains. One is, of course, Hindu Kush. The other is Afghan, another landrace that grew in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The Nepalese Himalayas

Weed also grows naturally in the Nepalese Himalayas, where a strain of cannabis indica is known to thrive and flourish. In fact, this indica landrace is still cultivated by farmers to make charas, a type of concentrate. Landrace Nepali strains are also used to develop new hybrids.

OG Kush Marijuana Strain

Buy OG Kush Seeds

  • 75% indica 25% sativa
  • THC levels up to 19%
  • Produces a high yield, especially indoors
  • Experience euphoric joy and happiness

Nepalese, also known as Nepali OG, is an example of a hybrid strain with roots in this region. This hybrid crosses OG Kush with landrace Nepali strains. It’s a potent indica with a THC content of up to 21% that grows tall plants despite being an indica. Its only indica trait may be highly-resinous flowers.


Many people believe that Jamaica is where weed naturally grows, especially since the country has a rich history of growing marijuana and boasts its own landraces. The island nation was introduced to cannabis by Indian workers in the early 1900s, who also introduced cannabis culture.

Jamaica’s rich soil and tropical climate make it the perfect place to grow cannabis. In particular, sativa strains flourished in the region. One of the native sativas of Jamaica is the rare Lambs Bread. It’s characterized by a skunky, cheesy aroma and creamy, sweet flavor.

Central America

Central America, particularly Mexico, features a climate that ranges from arid to tropical. The northern and central parts consist of mostly arid and semi-arid regions. Meanwhile, some parts of the south feature a tropical climate. In these conditions, you’d think marijuana plants wouldn’t thrive. But cannabis can and has flourished in Mexico’s harsh arid climates.

Mexico produced strains like Rasta, Creepy, and Acapulco Gold.  Acapulco Gold is a landrace strain grown in the Guerrero mountains.

Wild cannabis may not grow naturally where you live, and you may never be able to recreate the original East Asian ‘proto-cannabis,’ but you can grow the next best thing. 

For example, Afghan – one of the oldest modern cannabis strains, is still considered a (mostly) pure indica(1).  Afghan is native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, where it’s also cultivated for hash(2).

Afghan marijuana seeds

Buy Afghan Seeds

  • 100% indica landrace descendant
  • High THC level towards 20%
  • Easy growing inside and outdoors
  • A great strain for relaxation and unwinding


Weed is native to many areas. It can also easily adapt to its environment and grow almost anywhere. However, don’t expect it to grow everywhere. 

If you aren’t growing where cannabis grows wild, starting with the best genetics is important. You can purchase high-quality cannabis seeds at ILGM.com.

FAQs Wild Marijuana

How did marijuana get to the United States?

Marijuana was brought to New England by The Puritans in 1645 because industrial hemp was widely cultivated for its strong fiber. Since then, feral cannabis has re-seeded naturally and grown feral. Where does weed naturally grow in the United States? The Midwest. 

Does weed grow naturally in India?

Yes. It was in India where Jean-Baptiste Lamarck found a species of cannabis that he dubbed Cannabis Indica. Indica is the Latin form of the word ‘of India.’

Where is the most weed grown in the world?

Afghanistan is where the most weed is grown in the world. It’s also one of the world’s major producers of cannabis resin





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Chris Gardner

Botanist and academic

Chris Gardner is a botany buff with years of experience in agriculture and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science an ... See profile

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