The origins of the skunk strain

The origins of the skunk strain
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Skunk strains are extremely popular all around the globe. Learn more about the origins of Skunk and how it became so iconic.

When we think of iconic cannabis strains, a handful of names come to mind: Northern Lights, Haze, Kush, and of course Skunk. And it’s this last strain that really gave birth to the hybrid growing movement that has since brought us so many classic strains.

But what exactly is Skunk? Where did it come from, and who is responsible for creating this legendary strain?


The birth of skunk

Skunk was first bred in the US in the 1970s. This was a critical time for the cannabis industry, especially in America, where growers were beginning to experiment with short, fast-flowering indica varieties from Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as tall, THC-rich sativas native to Central America.

The first ever Skunk variety (marketed today as Skunk #1) was bred by a collective of California growers known as Sacred Seeds. The collective was led by David Watson, better known as Sam “The Skunkman.”

By crossing Acapulco Gold and Colombian Gold with a short, fast-flowering, and resilient Afghani landrace, Sam and the team at Sacred Seeds managed to create one of the most quintessential cannabis strains to date.

At present, Skunk is still easily one of the most reliable strains on the market. Whether grown under the strong California sun or in a Dutch greenhouse, these plants manage to easily adapt to their environment and produce hefty harvests of potent, super smelly weed in a matter of weeks.

While it was first developed in the 70s, Skunk really got famous in the 80s after Sam moved to Amsterdam. The finer details of the story are shrouded in mystery, but people generally agree that Sam moved to the Netherlands after having completed a stint in jail in the US.

He landed in the Dutch capital with kilos of seeds and launched Cultivator’s Choice. Since then, breeders in Holland and all around the world have refined Sam’s original Skunk variety to create countless hybrids.

A batch of Sam’s seeds were eventually bought up by Nevil Schoenmakers at The Seed Bank, which eventually became Sensi Seeds. Sensi Seeds’ Skunk #1 is often marketed as “the original” Skunk variety grown by Sam, but it’s really impossible to know whether that’s true.


Skunk: still a world-favorite strain

Skunk really became popular on the market in the 1980s when its creator, Sam The Skunkman, brought his Skunk seeds to the Netherlands.

Since then, Skunk has given birth to countless new hybrids as it’s renowned for being a robust and resilient strain that can produce big harvests in short flowering times, even in the toughest climates.

Skunk buds are big, heavy, and usually covered in a frosty layer of trichomes. They produce a very strong, long-lasting euphoria that many would describe as uplifting and invigorating. At the same time, it produces some subtle physical effects, making for a very well-balanced strain that’s perfect for day and nighttime use.

Arguably the most attractive aspect of Skunk is its pungent aroma. Anyone who has had the pleasure to smoke or grow a proper Skunk variety will know that even a tiny bag of this stuff can fill an entire room with an unmistakable, citrusy-sweet aroma.


The creation of Skunk really underlies a huge shift in the cannabis industry. Prior to the arrival of this strain, most growers were working with seeds they’d find at the bottom of their baggies (appropriately known as “bag seed”).

The success of hybrid strains like Skunk really helped kick the cannabis cultivation movement into gear, and encouraged growers to experiment with breeding new varieties that they'd never seen (or smoked) before.

We can see this clearly in the sheer amount of hybrids that have since evolved from the original Skunk bred by Sam in the 70s. These include:


It’s important to note that the term “skunk” is often used in the wrong context. In the UK, for example, tabloid newspapers and other broadcasters regularly use the term to refer to any kind of THC-rich cannabis. Similarly, in the US, uninformed individuals may refer to any particularly smelly weed as “skunky.”

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.