What is cannabis ruderalis?

What is cannabis ruderalis?
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Ruderalis is a small and hardy sub-species of cannabis, responsible for bringing autoflowering genes to the world of weed. 

Cannabis ruderalis is perhaps the least discussed subspecies of the cannabis plant. The third wheel. The underdog. Yet the herb you enjoy could quite likely contain the genetics of this adaptation, it is responsible for the existence of autoflowering strains after all.

A key to the nature of ruderalis is contained within its botanical name. Ruderalis is born out of the word "ruderal" which is a botanical classification given to a range of plants that are commonly the first seen after disruption of the land has occurred due to natural causes or human interference. Examples are roadsides and recovering farm land.

Ruderalis was first classified by the Russian Botanist D.E. Janischevsky in 1942 after he noted its distinct differences in comparison to indica and sativa examples of cannabis.[1] However the fact that ruderalis is an entirely different subspecies is still a hot topic of debate, as there is inadequate genetic evidence.

It is also thought to belong somewhere in between the gene pools of sativa and indica varieties. During the rest of this article, for the sake of differentiation, we shall refer to ruderalis as a sub-species.


Cannabis ruderalis is a hardy and enduring subspecies native to the bitter climates of Russia, central Europe and central Asia. It is thought that ruderalis descended from the well known cannabis Indica, a subspecies sporting relatively small branches and broad leaves known among growers and consumers to induce a relaxing, body-centred high.

Ruderalis developed quite different characteristics in comparison to its botanical brethren. The ancestor to both ruderalis and indica is cannabis sativa, a tall and thin-leaved subspecies associated with euphoric and energising highs that evolved out of warmer and kinder climates.

Ruderalis is rather minute in nature, reaching heights no more than 80cm when fully mature. It harbours far less branches than indica and sativa strains and its leaves are much smaller and feature three dominant fingers.

However the most prominent feature of ruderalis is something that is causing a stir around its name, a factor this is gradually domesticating this once wild variety.

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Due to adapting to a vastly different climate ruderalis developed the ability to autoflower, ensuring it could still flower and disperse its seed in different annual lighting conditions in the name of survival.

Growers will be well aware that when it is time to force their indoor indica and sativa plants into flower they must alter the photoperiod, or light cycle, that their marijuana plants are exposed to. This is not the case with ruderalis as it begins to flower automatically based instead upon maturity. Ruderalis hybrids mostly begin to enter the flowering stage between 21 and 30 days after germination.

It is this characteristic that has seen the introduction of ruderalis genes into the grow rooms and gardens of breeders looking to decrease grow time and increase the ease of growing. Eradicating the need to alter the photoperiod removes another chore off of the long list that growers must tend to.


Although many high THC yielding strains have been gifted autoflowering genetic traits from ruderalis, plants derived purely from this subspecies are highly unlikely to be utilised for their recreational potency.

This is because ruderalis strains are naturally low in THC, probably in part because it has spent so long living the wild life away from the genetic manipulation of selective breeding.

Yet this does not render ruderalis at all useless. As well as bringing autoflowering genes into the picture strains are relatively high in CBD, meaning they may have a place in medicinal situations where the psychoactive effects of THC are unwanted by patients or just unnecessary.


  1. ^ Wikipedia, Cannabis ruderalis, retrieved January-23-2019

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Miguel Ordoñez is a long-time writer by trade. Utilizing his AB Mass Media and Communications degree, he has 13 years of experience and counting. He’s covered a wide array of topics, with passion lying in combat sports, mental health, and of course, cannabis.