From Girl Scout Cookies to Pineapple Dog Shit, marijuana strain names can range from enticing to odious to just plain strange. Names can be indicative of the type of experience or flavor profile it might provide, its lineage or it might just for the fun of it. Keep reading to see how these popular marijuana strains got their names.
The History of Naming Marijuana Plants
When it comes to naming marijuana strains, the power is usually in the hands of the grower or producer, and is much like naming children. Usually there is a story behind the name and it is passed down from generation to generation. Names may hold historical significance, tie in parental lineages, or reference pop culture and celebrities.
Strain names can tell you specific flavors or aromas to expect, such as Strawberry Fields or Lemon Sour Diesel. The name could speak to the appearance of the plant, as in the case of Purple Haze or White Widow, denoting deep purple leaves or an abundance of white frosty trichomes. In other instances, a name might be a tribute to a celebrity or cannabis activist, such as Obama Kush and Jack Herer.
"Landrace" strains, or the first feral strains cultivated by modern growers in the ‘60s and ‘70s, usually denote their region of origin, like Panama Red or Afghan Kush. These heirloom strains are the forefathers of the genetic diversity we see amongst marijuana strains today. Genetic traces of these strains are sometimes detectable in modern hybrids, though our penchant for variety has made pure strains quite rare.
What’s Not in a Name
While tracing names can tell us interesting stories about the history of marijuana, it is not always a reliable indication of what the particular effects will be from a plant or its byproducts. Specifics such as THC content, color and aroma differ from one crop to the next, and are sensitive to processing methods, storage conditions and methods of consumption.
It is generally accepted (although debatably so)- that indica and sativa strains have body and mental effects that are loosely associated with each profile. The terms "indica," "sativa" and "hemp" reference different species of cannabis, each with different plant characteristics. However, since the first cannabis plants reached the Americas in the 1960s, thousands of crossbred hybrids have been created, making the strains we have now very different from their ancestors.
Further, unique differences exist in each cultivar based on grow methods, expertise and location, making it futile to summarize a succinct list of effects based on name alone. In some states with legal cannabis use, we see producers branding their product within the strain name. For example, Applegate Valley Organic’s Blue Dream versus Emerald Jane’s Blue Dream.
Popular Strain Names and Their History
If you’ve enjoyed weed regularly, you’ve likely come across the same strain names via multiple dispensaries or from friends. These are some of the most famous strains and their histories, as well as reported effects.
Durban Poison: This sativa strain is named for its origin city of Durban, South Africa. One of the original heirloom varieties, users report a clean, energetic high from this sweet-smelling, sticky bud.
Afghan Kush: Also an heirloom variety, this resin-packed indica strain is named for the Hindu Kush mountain range near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. It has been cultivated and passed down for its powerful relaxing effects, perfect for users experiencing stress or insomnia.
GSC (formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies): This renowned strain is considered by some to be the ultimate for a creative, mind-bending, relaxing high. A cross of Durban Poison and OG Kush, its sweet aroma and subtle baking spice flavor are said to have inspired the name. High THC levels make it a go-to for users needing relief from pain, fatigue or lack of appetite. GSC phenotypes such as Thin Mints and Platinum Cookies are popular and powerful strains as well.
Sour Diesel: This popular sativa gets its name from its acidic diesel aroma. Diesel strains tend to be popular among medical patients for their powerful clarity-promoting, pain-relieving effects.
Blue Dream: This West Coast sweetheart is named after both its aroma-flavor profile and reported physical effects. This Blueberry indica-sativa haze cross is known for its sweet berry aroma and euphoric dreamlike state.
Acapulco Gold: This rare but powerful strain gets its name from Acapulco, Mexico, where it originated. It resembles a gold nugget, and is heavy with golden brown resin. This hard-to-find strain is said to be one of the world’s best strains of cannabis.
Which Strain Should I Choose?
While it may be increasingly difficult to find the famed strains of yesteryear, some say the cultivars we see today have preferable levels of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenoids. Growers and scientists have been breeding plants to enhance the qualities and characteristics they are trying to highlight. Researchers seek to understand and log the markers for specific traits so as to be able to synthesize strains consistently for clinical use.
The things that really matter most to consumers when trying new strains are the methods employed by the producers, the quality and the experience they have while consuming it. So, whether it is Pineapple Express or Petroleum Nightmare, take the name with a grain of proverbial salt, kick back and enjoy the buzz.