What’s in a Strain Name?

Separating the Facts and Fiction in a Strain Name

Let’s get one thing straight: Strain names are pretty amazing.

When it comes to strain names, there are the classics (OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Silver Haze), the favorites (Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies, Jack Herer), the pop culture references (Pineapple Express, Obama Kush) and the downright strange (Lamb’s Bread, Alaskan Thunder Fuck, Mr. Nice).

It seems that everyday a new strain pops up, which can make selecting cannabis flower a bit confusing. This is due in large part to the fact strain names don’t do a great job of conveying a strain’s effects, flavors, or medicinal benefits. A strain name is more or less a marketing message.

Some strains are proprietary and their genetics have been protected by those involved in the plant’s creation. You can only get Mega Wellness from one authentic cultivator, for example. These growers keep tight control of their inventory and can verify the markets where their products can be found. But the name “Mega Wellness” alone doesn’t tell you anything about the effects you can expect. You can only determine that if you’re familiar with the cultivator. The Weedmaps Verification system helps you discover authentic brands with verified products. This helps people make better buying decisions instead of simply shopping by strain name.

Let’s use OG Kush as the next example. It’s one of Southern California’s most popular strains and can be found in nearly every dispensary, but the effects from one dispensary to the next can be completely different. This is primarily due to the fact that the growing conditions from grower to grower can vary and alter the resulting composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. “Annie’s” OG Kush can be drastically different from “Johnny’s” OG Kush. So if you want the same experience, make sure you are buying it from the same cultivator or brand.

What's In Your Weed?
These OG Kush samples from different cultivators highlight the chemical and physical differences that can occur among the same cannabis varieties.

Due to the legal landscape of cannabis throughout the world, most current strains that are found have been hybridized through selective breeding by breeders. Landrace strains are the exception. They’re cultivars of cannabis that have never been crossed and have evolved naturally due to prolonged exposure to elements in their natural environment. Known landrace strains originated in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jamaica, Mexico, Africa, South and Central America, and Asia.

Where and how cannabis is grown, harvested and processed directly contributes to the composition of terpenes and cannabinoids found in the final product. If you’re looking for consistent quality, everything starts with the source (the brand) — not the strain. So it’s important to explore your options to find the right flower that works for you based on what’s in it and who made it, rather than the strain name alone.

The names of various cannabis strains can be inconsistent and have primarily been developed to add marketing appeal, though some value can be garnered from them. For example, you can expect a bright, fresh aroma from the California Orange, Tangie and Sour Tangie strains, all of which share a fragrance of citrus fruit. Sour Diesel, NYC Diesel, and Blue Diesel strains all have, to some degree, a gasoline-like pungence, as suggested by the word “diesel” in the names. Strain names may lack uniformity and overall structure, but can add insight to some of a strain’s characteristics.