Where Do Weed Seeds Come From

Learn about feminized seeds, or seeds that are bred to only produce female cannabis plants. From the Asian steppes where Cannabis sativa plants first evolved, to prehistoric hunters and gatherers, ancient China, Viking ships and finally the Americas, a new report outlines marijuana’s history

Feminized seeds

Feminized seeds are bred to produce only female plants, as opposed to regular seeds that have a 50% chance of producing male plants.

More about feminized cannabis seeds

Feminized cannabis seeds are important to cannabis cultivation because only female plants produce consumable flowers.

Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Beyond the fact that male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs instead of flowers, having males plants around female plants can ruin an entire harvest. That’s because male plants pollinate the buds of young female plants. When that happens, the flowers will be full of seeds, lowering their quality and value.

Breeders and growers developed feminized cannabis seeds to address these challenges. By increasing the likelihood that all your seeds will produce female plants, you eliminate the possibility of getting a male plant that won’t produce flowers and of having a male plant accidentally pollinate flower-bearing female plants.

How to get feminized seeds

Feminized cannabis seeds are very mainstream. You can buy feminized cannabis seeds online from seed banks around the world. And if you live in a place where home cultivation is legal, you should be able to purchase feminized seeds at most dispensaries. You can also feminize seeds on your own, but to get the best feminized seeds, buy them from a reputable breeder or seed bank.

How are marijuana seeds feminized?

Feminized cannabis seeds are created through a process of genetic manipulation. Essentially, the idea is to induce female plants to make pollen. Normally, only male plants produce pollen, but if you can somehow make a female plant produce pollen, then what you’ve got is pollen containing only female chromosomes. There are a few ways to make this happen:

  • Spray a female plant with colloidal silver while it grows and transitions into the flowering phase. This chemical promotes the growth of pollen sacs, and because this pollen comes from a female plant it carries female chromosomes. After the plant starts producing pollen, use it to pollinate the flowers on a regular female cannabis plant. These pollinated flowers will produce feminized seeds. There are some reports online that say you shouldn’t smoke or otherwise consume any part of a plant that’s been sprayed with colloidal silver. And there are also reports saying that’s baloney. You’ll need to decide for yourself.
  • In a process very similar to the colloidal silver method, spray a young female cannabis plant with silver thiosulfate. This chemical suppresses the production of ethylene, which is necessary to the flowering process. By feeding your female plant silver thiosulfate, you encourage the plant to produce pollen, which can be used to pollinate other female plants and produce feminized cannabis seeds.
  • The third main method is known as “rodelization.” This is an all-natural technique, although it does not produce the desired outcome as consistently as the colloidal silver or silver thiosulfate methods. Rodelization takes advantage of a natural process in which an unpollinated female plant will sometimes organically sprout its own pollen sacs. Think of it as the plant’s last-ditch effort to reproduce. In this method, you force a female plant to remain in the flowering phase for so long that the plant’s self-pollination mechanism kicks in. When this happens, you can use the pollen created by the female plant to pollinate the flowers on a regular female plant, which will then produce feminized seeds.
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What is the difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds?

Autoflowering seeds have been bred to move into the flowering phase without needing changes in light to activate the production of flowers. Whether cannabis seeds are seeds doesn’t have anything to do with when plants enter the flowering phase. Feminized cannabis seeds have been bred to grow only female plants.

Are feminized seeds guaranteed to be female?

While feminized seeds generally grow only female plants, there is no 100% guarantee whether you buy feminized seeds or create them yourself. Every once in a while, a feminized seed will still grow up to become a male plant. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your plants as they mature. If you ever see pollen sacs starting to form, remove the plant before it accidentally pollinates and ruins your female plants.

Do feminized seeds produce seeds?

Theoretically, plants sprouted from feminized seeds should not produce seeds. They should only grow into female plants, and unpollinated female plants produce buds instead of seeds. Cannabis plants make seeds when the flowers of a female plant are pollinated with the pollen from a male plant. In the absence of male plants, there should be no pollen and therefore no seed production. If you force a female plant to stay in the flowering stage too long, however, all bets are off and you could wind up with rodelization as discussed above.

Are regular seeds better than feminized?

Growing cannabis is all about your goals and preferences. There is no inherent reason why regular female marijuana seeds would be considered better than feminized seeds. With that said, feminized seeds:

  • Maximize yields by reducing the chance of producing an unusable male plant
  • Decrease the risk that a male plant will accidentally pollinate female plants
  • Simplify the growing process by making unexpected male plants much less likely

In many ways, feminized seeds can be a good option for new growers, as they eliminate some guesswork and reduce the pressure to quickly and accurately identify and eradicate unwanted male plants. However, there are no guarantees and new growers should still do their homework and know how to spot a male cannabis plant.

Tips for growing marijuana from feminized seeds

The steps for growing cannabis from feminized seeds are the same as growing from regular seeds. If you understand the laws and regulations where you live and want to give cannabis cultivation a try, keep these things in mind.

Before you plant the first seed, you’ll need to make some decisions:

  • Do you want to grow your cannabis indoors, in a greenhouse, or outside under the sun? do you plan to cultivate?
  • Will it be autoflowering or photoperiod?
  • Are you going to grow from seed or clone a cannabis plant?
  • What cultivation medium will you use? Good old soil, hydroponic solution, or an aeroponic system?

Each of these areas may generate more questions. If you grow indoors will you use natural or artificial light? If you go hydroponic, will you also use a grow medium like rockwool or hydroton? While you could just buy a clone, plop it in some soil, and hope, it’s best to think like a beginner and do some thorough research before taking the marijuana-growing plunge.

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On the other hand, if that’s just not your style, you could treat cannabis like a houseplant and attempt a simple indoor grow with natural light. If you start with a plant or two on a sunny windowsill and wind up with a nice harvest, you might choose to move on to a more complicated setup or just keep it simple. Like most things in the cannabis world, it’s all up to your personal taste and how much effort you want to put into it.

Marijuana’s History: How One Plant Spread Through the World

From the sites where prehistoric hunters and gatherers lived, to ancient China and Viking ships, cannabis has been used across the world for ages, and a new report presents the drug’s colorful history.

In the report, author Barney Warf describes how cannabis use originated thousands of years ago in Asia, and has since found its way to many regions of the world, eventually spreading to the Americas and the United States.

“For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes,” during pre-modern times, said Warf, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. For example, the Vikings and medieval Germans used cannabis for relieving pain during childbirth and for toothaches, he said.

“The idea that this is an evil drug is a very recent construction,” and the fact that it is illegal is a “historical anomaly,” Warf said. Marijuana has been legal in many regions of the world for most of its history.

Where did pot come from?

It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

A second psychoactive species of the plant, Cannabis indica, was identified by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and a third, uncommon one, Cannabis ruderalis, was named in 1924 by Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky.

Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved on the steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia, according to Warf. The history of cannabis use goes back as far as 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops, according to information in the book “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years” (Springer, 1980).

“It likely flourished in the nutrient-rich dump sites of prehistoric hunters and gatherers,” Warf wrote in his study.

Burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of mummified psychoactive marijuana.

Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were used widely in ancient China, Warf wrote. The first record of the drug’s medicinal use dates to 4000 B.C. The herb was used, for instance, as an anesthetic during surgery, and stories say it was even used by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 B.C. (However, whether Shen Nung was a real or a mythical figure has been debated, as the first emperor of a unified China was born much later than the supposed Shen Nung.)

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From China, coastal farmers brought pot to Korea about 2000 B.C. or earlier, according to the book “The Archeology of Korea” (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Cannabis came to the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C., when the region was invaded by the Aryans — a group that spoke an archaic Indo-European language. The drug became widely used in India, where it was celebrated as one of “five kingdoms of herbs . which release us from anxiety” in one of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems whose name translate into “Science of Charms.”

From Asia to Europe

Cannabis came to the Middle East between 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C., and it was probably used there by the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group. The Scythians also likely carried the drug into southeast Russia and Ukraine, as they occupied both territories for years, according to Warf’s report. Germanic tribes brought the drug into Germany, and marijuana went from there to Britain during the 5th century with the Anglo-Saxon invasions. [See map of marijuana’s spread throughout the world.]

This map shows how marijuana spread throughout the world, from its origins on the steppes of Central Asia. (Image credit: Barney Warf, University of Kansas )

“Cannabis seeds have also been found in the remains of Viking ships dating to the mid-ninth century,” Warf wrote in the study.

Over the next centuries, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa, reaching South America in the 19th century and being carried north afterwards, eventually reaching North America.

How did marijuana get to the United States?

After this really long “trip” throughout the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.

“Many early prejudices against marijuana were thinly veiled racist fears of its smokers, often promulgated by reactionary newspapers,” Warf wrote in his report. “Mexicans were frequently blamed for smoking marijuana, property crimes, seducing children and engaging in murderous sprees.”

Americans laws never recognized the difference between Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis sativa. The plant was first outlawed in Utah in 1915, and by 1931 it was illegal in 29 states, according to the report.

In 1930, Harry Aslinger became the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and undertook multiple efforts to make marijuana illegal in all states. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act put cannabis under the regulation of the Drug Enforcement Agency, criminalizing possession of the plant throughout the country.

“Today, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD, indicating it has high potential for abuse and addiction, no accepted medical uses and no safe level of use,” Warf wrote.