Understanding The Diversity Of Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis seeds are the way that the Cannabis and marijuana plant reproduce their genetics in order to continue and multiply. Like many plants, Cannabis produces seeds which fall to the ground in the hope that some will germinate and grow into strong, vibrant plants to continue the strain the following year.
Many of the plants we see reproduce genetic copies of themselves the following your, the majority of these plants all have the ability to produce seeds themselves, ensuring that each seed carries the same genetics as the plant that created it. In this way the plant continues to reproduce very similar traits and characteristics year after year.
The Cannabis plant does not reproduce and create seeds in that way however. Unlike many plant species, the sex of the plant is imprinted into the seeds genetics at creation, and so if it germinates and grows to maturity it will be either a male, or female Cannabis plant, and without it’s opposite sex will not be able to produce seeds to continue the following year.
Male Cannabis plants produce sacks of pollen that burst open releasing their spores onto the wind. In general they tend to be slightly taller than their female counter-parts so the pollen can fall onto them. Female plants produce white flowers or pistels that resemble small, thin white hairs at first. As flowering continues the flowers form clusters or buds where the seed bracts are swelling, waiting to be fertilised by any male pollen.
It is this process that allows for such diversity in Cannabis plants, as there require the genes from two separate and individual plants to combine to create new seeds. Even when all of the seeds produced by combining a single male with a solitary female are guaranteed to only contain the genetics from those two sets of plants are achieved, the diversity of the seeds they create can be very dramatic.
It is these differences in the genetic formula of each individual seed that make the traits and characteristics of the subsequent plants so different. Seed breeders go to extreme lengths to perfect the right balance for a new strain, and then have to cross it with itself to achieve a stable and uniform strain where the majority of the seeds grow into plants displaying similar traits such as aroma, taste, height, yield and flowering time.
Even then it is extremely difficult to achieve total stability within each seeds, and this often creates a split in a strain where it is reported as having more than one ‘pheno-type’. This means the seeds tend to take on one set of characteristics or the other, and sometimes less stable strains can have a variety of pheno’s.
Over time the Cannabis plant split into three distinct varieties. Cannabis Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. This was due to different characteristics being being desirable to the plant in different parts of the world. Sativa Cannabis grew in hotter climates with longer hours of sunshine and relatively good environmental conditions. This lead to the plants becoming tall and requiring many weeks to achieve peak maturity.
Cannabis Indica however developed to cope with the cold and harsh winds of the Afghan mountain regions where it developed better if it remained short and squat, developing more as a bush than a tree, and reducing it’s flowering time to as short as possible to compensate for the shorter summers and reduction in daylight hours.
The Ruderalis form spread across Europe and Russia, growing wild, tall and fibrous. Unlike the Sativa and Indica varieties, the female plants produced few flowers or buds, creating just enough to be pollinated and produce the following years seeds.
The Uses Of Cannabis
One of the most commonly associated aspects of Cannabis is it’s use as both a recreational and medicinal drug. Many people in the UK know people who use or smoke Cannabis for it’s recreational and relaxing properties, and in the USA it has been accepted by 22 States as having medical benefits and is legally obtainable under prescription and from a registered marijuana dispensary.
The medical benefits of using Cannabis and its byproducts are constantly under review and study. Much of the information is inconclusive or conflicting. It is possible to find many people on a wide number of forums, from a wide diversity of backgrounds and beliefs who have found Cannabis to be beneficial to them. There are reports of people who have been cured by taking certain combinations of Cannabis strains and varieties. Unfortunately however, the medical community does not believe in fast miracles and more tests and studies need to be undertaken before the results can be taken as conclusive.
It is accepted that certain types of Cannabis can help to reduce pain in arthritis and multiple Sclerosis suffers, as well as increasing appetite for many people with eating disorders and assisting with sleep for insomniacs.
Apart from it’s use as a recreational and medicinal drug, the Cannabis plant itself has a wide number of uses and complete industries have developed in the past based on the production of hemp, the wild Ruderalis form of Cannabis.
Hemp produces strong fibres and during the 1700-1800’s was widely cultivated in England for a wide number of uses. The stems and stalks made very strong rope, while the foliage could be used to produce hemp fibre clothes and blankets, as well as make an excellent feed for cows, pigs, goats and sheep. Even the seeds had a use, being made into hemp oil or stored and used as bird and chicken feed.
The Future For Cannabis
The later part of the 20th Century saw public and political opinion sway against the use of Cannabis. It was used as racial propaganda against the increasing tide of Mexican immigrants who were flooding into the USA, bringing with them culture change and a new drug…Marijuana, which was just another name for the Cannabis that was freely available as a medicine at the time.
The inclusion of Cannabis on the Bush administrations ‘War On Drugs’ didn’t help it’s cause during the 1990’s and early part of the new millennium. Despite this however, attitudes across the world are becoming more liberal and relaxed about Cannabis and it’s use, with many countries police forces allowing, decriminalizing or turning a blind eye to its use.
Parts of Europe openly tolerate it’s use such as the Netherlands, Spain and parts of Germany. While more and more States in America are voting on allowing the use of Cannabis for both medical and recreational use.
Sadly there are no changes in the law on the horizon for Great Britain and England, but we can live and hope that one day our politicians will allow its use as they allow alcohol and it’s sale.