Strain vs. Cultivar: Navigating the Cannabis Lexicon

Strain vs. Cultivar: Navigating the Cannabis Lexicon

In the fascinating world of cannabis, the terminology used to describe different varieties of the plant can sometimes be confusing or misleading. One such area of confusion is distinguishing between a “strain” and a “cultivar.” In this blog post, we’ll explore the meanings, differences, and implications of “strain” and “cultivar” in the context of cannabis.

Understanding Strains

The term “strain” in cannabis typically refers to a specific genetic variant of the plant. A strain encompasses a group of plants with common characteristics, inherited through selective breeding and hybridization. These characteristics may include growth patterns, cannabinoid profiles, terpene compositions, and physical attributes.

Historically, the term “strain” was used to categorize different subspecies or variations of the cannabis plant. However, with advancements in genetic understanding, many experts advocate for using “cultivar” in place of “strain” to be more accurate and consistent.

Defining Cultivars

“Cultivar” is short for “cultivated variety.” In botanical terms, a cultivar is a unique variation of a plant species, developed and maintained by cultivation. Cultivars are usually the result of human intervention, involving selective breeding and propagation to enhance specific traits.

When it comes to cannabis, a cultivar refers to a unique variety of the plant that has been cultivated and propagated to maintain specific characteristics, such as flavor, potency, growth pattern, or disease resistance. The focus is on the plant’s cultivated characteristics rather than its wild or original traits.

Key Differences

  • Genetic Origin: A strain primarily refers to the genetic makeup of a group of plants, often sharing a common lineage. A cultivar, on the other hand, emphasizes the cultivated variation, irrespective of the genetic background.
  • Human Intervention: Strains may occur naturally or through selective breeding. In contrast, cultivars are intentionally bred and maintained by humans for desirable traits.
  • Cultivation and Propagation: Cultivars are specifically cultivated and propagated to retain certain traits, while strains may or may not undergo a deliberate cultivation process.

Why the Distinction Matters

Using “cultivar” instead of “strain” encourages precision in the language used within the cannabis industry. It aligns with botanical and horticultural standards, allowing for a more accurate description of the plant’s variations and characteristics. This shift in terminology promotes a clearer understanding of the diverse cannabis landscape and facilitates better communication among professionals, cultivators, and consumers.

In conclusion, whether you prefer the traditional term “strain” or the more accurate “cultivar,” it’s essential to understand their meanings and implications within the evolving lexicon of the cannabis world. Clarity in language ultimately enhances our appreciation and comprehension of the fascinating world of cannabis and its diverse array of varieties.


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