The origins of the Diesel strain

The origins of the Diesel strain
Steven Voser

Diesel weed strains boast delicious aromas and flavours, as well as a typically uplifting high treasured for its social and creative effects. But just how did Diesel strains like Chemdawg/Chemdog and Sour Diesel come to be? Keep reading to find out.

To the modern-day cannabis connoisseur, it's almost impossible to imagine a world without Diesel. With its bright, tangy aromas/flavours and top-shelf potency, the Diesel family of cannabis strains continues to win over recreational and medical smokers alike. But where did Diesel cannabis strains originate, and how did they come to be so well-known?

As is the case with many cannabis cultivars, the origins of Diesel are shrouded in mystery. In this article, we'll dive deep into the world of cannabis folklore to uncover the possible origins of Diesel and popular Diesel cannabis varieties, including Sour Diesel, Chemdawg, Jet Fuel, and more.

What is Diesel?

The origins of the diesel strain

Diesel refers to a family of cannabis strains that includes Sour Diesel (aka Sour D), Chemdawg, and others. As the name suggests, these cannabis strains stand out from other varieties thanks to their pungent aromas and flavours reminiscent of, you guessed it, fuel. As is the case with other cannabis strain families, the world of Diesel aromas and flavours is ripe with all kinds of complexities. In general, however, these strains are pungent and strong-smelling, with upfront chemical overtones, a sour or tangy bite, and hints of spice. Some Diesel varieties, such as Lemon or Strawberry Diesel for example, also bring fresh fruit aromas into the mix, making for even more variety. Other Diesel strains may also mix their tell-tale fuel aromas with notes of pine, hops, and earth.

Diesel strains get their unique aromas from their novel mix of terpenes. According to lab test results of different Diesel varieties, these strains can be rich in caryophyllene, terpinolene, myrcene, humulene, limonene, and linalool. Of course, the exact concentrations of terpenes found in a particular strain vary based on that strain's genetics as well as how a particular plant was grown. Uniquely, Diesel strains are also said to be rich in sulphur compounds, which are thought to contribute to the skunky, gassy aromas that define these varieties.

Besides being rich in aromatic terpenes and volatile sulphur compounds, Diesel strains are also packed with cannabinoids. Most Diesel cultivars are predominantly rich in THC, though they may also contain trace amounts of CBC/CBCA and CBG/CBGA. Again, the exact expression of cannabinoids in Diesel strains varies depending on their genetics as well as their cultivation.

What is the strongest diesel-smelling strain?

The chemical stank of fuel is, by far, the dominating aromatic note of Diesel cannabis strains. Of course, defining the exact aromatics of a strain is subjective, as the way we distinguish and categorize aromas varies from one person to another. There are, however, some iconic Diesel strains that serve as perfect exemplars of what Diesel weed should smell like.

Chemdawg (aka Chemdog, Chem Dog, or simply Chem), for example, is highly regarded as the strain that birthed the entire Diesel family of strains. Pop the lid off a jar of Chemdog flowers and your room will immediately be filled with a pungent aroma of diesel and kerosene, though the strain's hints of pine and wood can also be reminiscent of turpentine.

Other Diesel varieties that stand out for their bold, diesel aromas include:

  • Sour Diesel, which combines strong fuel notes with hints of skunk, pine, and citrus.
  • NYC Diesel, boasting a mix of pungent fuel with delicious hints of sweet lemons and limes.
  • Jack Diesel. A more modern hybrid created from a mix of Diesel and Jack Herer genetics, Jack Diesel is sweet, fruity, and herbal, with slightly subdued but still very present Diesel notes.

Where did Diesel weed originate?

What is the strongest diesel-smelling strain?

A lot of mystery and folklore surrounds the origin of Diesel cannabis strains. However, it is now widely accepted that the mother of all Diesel strains is Chemdog. So, how was Chemdog created? Well, turns out it wasn't. Instead, Chemdog was discovered by accident among some bag seeds.

In 1991, Greg Krzanowski got on a bus to watch the Grateful Dead perform live. On the way to the show, he scored a bag of "Dogbud" weed (which was apparently grown indoors somewhere in Northern California). Impressed by the quality of the weed he'd scored, Greg organized for 2 more bags of Dogbud to get shipped to his home on the East Coast. In one of those bags, Greg found 13 seeds, which he proceeded to grow between 1991 and 2001. Among those 13 seeds were 3 strains that set the genetic groundwork for the entire family of Diesel strains:

  • '91 Chemdog
  • Chem's Sister
  • Chemdog D (aka Chem D)

Greg named these strains after their strong chemical aroma as well as in honour of the original Dogbud strain they'd descended from. He shared these strains with many other growers and breeders, and also elaborated on the original Chemdog genetics, using the strains named above to create a variety of unique hybrids, including Giesel, Bubble Chem, and more.

In interviews, Greg has encouraged other breeders to also share the strains with friends, as it was his decision to share the Chem lineage that kept the strain alive after he was raided in 2001 and also paved the way for the creation of strains like:

  • Original Diesel
  • Sour Diesel
  • DogDaze

Unbeknownst to even some veteran smokers, there are also theories suggesting that the almighty OG Kush may be a descendant of Greg Krzanowski's Chemdog. Basically, there are 3 common theories about the origins of OG Kush. some believe OG Kush to be a descendant of Sour Diesel, while others suggest that it's the result of Chemdog's self-pollination. Finally, the most commonly accepted theory about OG Kush's origins is that the strain is the result of crossing Chemdog with a landrace Pakistani Kush variety.

What is the origin of NYC diesel?

NYC Diesel is an ambiguous strain with murky origins. To date, the most accepted origin story of NYC Diesel is that the strain is simply a '91 Chemdog phenotype renamed by a grower in New York City sometime in the early 1990s. Note that Soma Seeds in The Netherlands also sells a strain named NYC Diesel. This strain, however, hit the market in the early 2000s and descends from a mix of Afghani and Mexican landraces. It was supposedly named after New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

What is the origin of nyc diesel?

Since the discovery of Chemdog in 1991, Diesel cannabis strains haven't stopped winning over recreational smokers and medical marijuana patients alike. Whether you're a seasoned Diesel smoker or looking to explore this renowned strain family for the first time, consider looking into the following Diesel varieties.


Chemdog is the original Diesel strain. Luckily, despite having been created over 30 years ago, Chem is still widely available from a variety of breeders and seedbanks, including Greg Krzanowski (who currently serves as director of cultivation at Canna Provisions in Massachusetts). If you're looking for an authentic introduction to the world of Diesel cannabis, Chemdog is the way to go. It boasts delicious tangy fuel aromas and flavours with other chemical overtones. Moreover, Chemdog provides a well-balanced cerebral high that's intoxicating, uplifting, and often creatively or socially stimulating. Best of all, Chemdog has a nice and soft "landing" once its effects wear off—a trait that's not so common in more powerful modern hybrids.

Sour Diesel

Like many cannabis strains born in the 1990s, Sour Diesel's origins are murky at best. Most sources attribute the strain to a breeder known as Asshole Joe who allegedly received a clone of '91 Chemdog from Greg Krzanowski while working at The Wetland's Music Club in New York. At some point, Asshole Joe crossed Greg's '91 Chem with either Super Skunk or Northern Lights (or both), creating arguably one of the most famous Diesel strains to date. Sour Diesel (aka Sour D or Sour Deez) boasts an even more intense fuel aroma than Chemdog, exacerbated by strong Skunky undertones as well as hints of pine. Its effects, on the other hand, are said to be exhilarating and dream-like, producing a rush of cerebral energy that many find perfect for stimulating creativity and conversation. Medical users also treasure Sour D for its ability to ease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

NY Purple Diesel

Also known simply as NYPD, NY Purple Diesel is, you guessed it, a stunning purple-coloured Diesel variety. Unfortunately, the origins of this strain aren't clear, though most smokers, growers, and breeders believe NYPD to be a descendant of either Sour D or NYC Diesel. Regardless of where it came from, NYPD is beloved for its stunning purple flowers which produce a heavier, more indica-leaning stone. Note that Nirvana Seeds sells a strain named New York Power Diesel that stems from Aurora Indica and Mexican landrace genetics and doesn't seem to share any genetic origins with the US Diesel varieties discussed here.

Strawberry Sour Diesel

Bred by Devil's Harvest Seeds, Strawberry Sour Diesel fiercely combines Sour Diesel and Strawberry Cough genetics. The result is a potent hybrid with indica-dominant genes and rich aromas that perfectly combine notes of sour, tangy diesel and citrus with the fresh sweetness of ripe strawberries. Inhale her sweet smoke, and Strawberry Sour Diesel won't just delight with her aromas and flavours, she'll also leave you under the spell of a pleasant, relaxing body buzz while preserving the creative and social energy that Sour Diesel is known for. If you're looking to try Diesel weed but tend to shy away from overly energising strains, Strawberry Sour Diesel may be perfect for you.

Jet Fuel

Jet Fuel is a modern hybrid cannabis variety bred from a combination of different Diesel genetics. Also known as G6 or Jet Fuel OG, this strain is renowned for its uplifting, mood-boosting effects. Boasting strong levels of THC and a rich mix of gassy terpenes, Jet Fuel is perfect for smokers looking to stay focused, energetic, and motivated. Many treasure this strain in the morning, while others prefer to enjoy it in their free time to get creative and indulge in a positive, active high that's perfect for enjoying the outdoors, engaging with art or music, or socialising with friends.

Diesel Strains Today

Jet fuel

Diesel is one of the most popular cannabis varieties on the market today. Typically containing a good balance of indica and sativa genetics, Diesel varieties are beloved for their uplifting and energizing effects, along with their iconic fuel aromas. Luckily, Chemdog, Sour Diesel, and countless other classic Diesel varieties have been well-preserved since their discovery in the 1990s, and modern breeders continue elaborating on their unique profile, making it super easy for curious smokers to experience this line of cannabis genetics.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.