What are 'kush' cannabis strains?

What are 'kush' cannabis strains?
Max Sargent

Kush is a buzz word among cannabis users from all around the world. But what exactly are Kush strains? Where do they come from, and what should you look for in a decent bag of Kush?

Kush is a buzz word among cannabis users from all around the world. From new users to veteran tokers who have been smoking for decades, most cannabis connoisseurs will be familiar with the word “Kush”. But what exactly are Kush strains? Where do they come from, and what should you look for in a decent bag of Kush?

The term Kush refers to a wide variety of cannabis strains originating from the Hindu Kush region. Kush strains can be pure landrace strains that are native to this area, or powerful hybrids that have been bred using Kush genetics.

Kush strains are believed to have made their debut in the US in the 1970s. Today, they are loved by both medicinal and recreational cannabis users around the world. Kush genetics are also the backbone of many great new hybrids on the market, including Hindu Kush, Critical Kush, OG Kush, Purple Afghan Kush, and countless more.

Kush strains are usually indica-dominant and tend to boast the following characteristics:


Kush strains tend to be short and stocky. Their leaves and colas tend to be dark green in colour and may even demonstrate subtle purple hues. The buds are usually thick, chunky, and generously coated with trichomes. Pistils can vary in colour anywhere from straight orange to a darker, rust-like colour.

Smell and flavour

Kush strains can have very complex aromatic profiles, combining everything from earthy, floral, or piney notes with more distinct smells like pepper, citrus, or even gas. In terms of flavour, smoke and vapour from Kush strains tends to taste earthy and floral and may also combine more complex flavors like berry or citrus.


Kush strains generally produce powerful sedative effects coupled with a strong euphoria typical of indica-dominant cannabis varieties. Some Kush varieties can contain up to 20% THC, meaning they can pack a powerful punch that leaves some users giggly, happy, and locked into the couch.



To better understand Kush varieties, it’s important to look at the region where they originated from.

The Hindu Kush region is an 800km (approx 500 mile) mountain range that stretches from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan. It is known for its harsh climates, and served as a main passageway connecting the Central and South Asian slave markets. It was not uncommon for slaves to die in the region due to the harsh climates while being transported from Central to South Asia.

These harsh climates obviously had an important impact on the cannabis plants growing in this region. Kush varieties are known to be strong plants that can withstand cold temperatures and moderate water consumption yet still produce heavy yields. Unlike some sativa varieties native to warmer areas, Kush varieties tend to grow into short, stocky plants.

These traits can be really beneficial for growers and breeders. The fact that the plants grow to a manageable height yet still produce big yields makes them ideal for indoor set ups or situations where the grower doesn’t want to attract a whole lot of attention.

Kush varieties are also a common choice for outdoor growers dealing with cold climates both in the northern or southern hemisphere.


It is important to note that, thanks to crossbreeding and the subsequent creation of hybrid strains, not all Kush varieties display the same characteristics.

Experienced breeders will play around with a wide variety of strains to build new varieties with unique traits. For example, they may choose to cross a Kush landrace strain with a powerful sativa to create a variety that boasts the physical characteristics of a Kush but produces more notable sativa-like effects.

Besides that, the individual phenotype of each plant can give some Kush varieties distinct traits that can affect everything from their appearance to their cannabinoid profile and much more.

Max Sargent
Max Sargent

Max has been writing about cannabis and psychedelics for several years now. With a strong belief that an open, honest attitude toward drugs and drug policy can improve the lives of many, he seeks to offer insightful and developed opinions on the subject.