Top 10 iconic cannabis strains

Top 10 iconic cannabis strains
Adam Parsons

When you hear the phrase "classic cannabis", which strains do you think of? Read on to learn about 10 of the most iconic strains of all time.

Cheese, OG Kush, Sour Diesel… Some strains are so iconic, so beloved, that their influence spans far beyond the cannabis industry.

These are the classics—renowned strains that stormed the world with their incredible potency, unparalleled flavour, and, in the case of AK-47, their controversial title.


Here are 10 classic cannabis strains you need to know—and try—post-haste!


The scintillating lovechild of Haze, Northern Lights, and Skunk, Jack Herer is a strain fit for only the most dedicated cannabis enthusiasts. Originating in the 1990s, it shares a name with the late hemp activist and author.

Jack Herer’s charms are not lost on sativa or indica lovers. A swift, uplifting effect is characteristic for this strain, allowing users to remain alert yet serene. A welcome feeling of euphoria boosts the mood and keeps productivity high. With an eclectic flavour defined by notes of sweetness, cinnamon, and pine, taking a whiff of these buds is like smelling fine potpourri.

Jack Herer has scooped up its fair share of awards and accolades, including High Times honours, and is valued for both its yield and upbeat high.

2. AK-47

With a happy high that inspires creativity, AK-47 is a friendlier weapon indeed. Infusing the genetics of Colombian, Thai, Afghan, and Mexican landraces, this sativa-dominant wonder requires only some caution.  

It’s true; the energetic, social, and cerebral effect of this strain can feel a little like a caffeine rush, but for those who like their highs high, there’s no better tool for the job than AK-47.

Emerging as a stable cultivar in the early 90s, this award-winning strain invokes its diverse heritage to produce an array of intriguing flavours. “Forest” notes of pine mix well with a spicy citrus punch that screams “Haze”.

This smelly strain can be grown successfully by those with a couple harvests under their belt, reliably delivering medium-large yields after a brief flowering phase.


And the sativa classics keep on coming! Very few strains carry such prestige as the maverick that is Sour Diesel. An icon in more ways than one, SD is chiefly known for its savoury, petrol-tinged flavour and its lucid sativa high.

Harnessing a mix of Hawaiian, Shiva, Diesel, and Northern Lights genetics, Sour Diesel achieved unprecedented alchemy. Some strains make you feel fatigued after finishing an entire joint; not the case with Sour Diesel! Enjoy a pleasant cerebral high that encourages a long-lasting flow state. This is weed for the active, the creative, and the contemplative.

The almost chemical-y, herbal taste of Sour Diesel is so wrong it’s right. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be hooked for good. It's a little harder to grow than some of its peers, but then again, the best strains are worth the extra work.


A practically pure indica with strong Afghani heritage, Northern Lights is one of the most influential strains of all time. Playing a primary role in the emerging seed bank scene of the late 1980s and early 90s, Northern Lights would go on to form the foundation for many of today’s top strains.

Why this strain? Just look to its relaxing, almost narcotic high for answers. Upon smoking Northern Lights, a weight is immediately lifted. From there, the mood soars as euphoria banishes any remaining stress from the mind. Just as soothing is its flavour, which combines robust earthy-pine notes with a pleasant sweetness.

Northern Lights is one to really impress in the grow room, producing a sizable bounty of truly resinous nugs. Plus, its short flowering phase and indica vigour make it a reliable addition to any grow space.


Probably the biggest Dutch superstar on this list, Amnesia Haze gets the party going. A friendly sight on many a coffeeshop menu, this weed is often placed in its own cannabis category. Boasting a truly unique high that kindles creativity and vanquishes short-term memory (temporarily), Amnesia Haze is like jet fuel for the brain.

Coming from a formidable family of Jamaican, Afghan, Laotian, and Hawaiian landraces, Amnesia Haze is a bit of a diva with its long flowering period, but the results are always stunning. The buds are big and potent, and the flavour strikes the perfect balance between sweet and spicy.

By the time you’ve had a single toke of this sativa-dominant star, any misgivings you had growing it will be replaced by complete devotion. This strain delivers an instant vibe that transports users out of the mundanity of daily life.


There’s something in the air, and it smells cheesy. Must be Cheese, the Skunk-derived strain from the UK. Playing a significant role in the local underground rave scene in the early 90s, it would go on to win over the hearts of practically all cannabis users.

Another savoury addition to this list, Cheese rejects the characteristic sweet and fruity flavours of some hybrids in favour of a bold, earthy-cheese taste with some bite. This stuff smells good, and it tastes even better, with subtle spicy nuances revealing themselves on the palate.

And don’t forget about the high; strong and stoning, Cheese is a regular indulgence for nighttime smokers and those looking to seriously chill out. Still, it's not as narcotic as, say, Northern Lights, and it is definitely one to enjoy when looking for a boost in mood.


Like many of the best discoveries, the exact origin of White Widow is unclear. Suspected to derive from Brazilian and Indian genetics, the mystery surrounding this hybrid only makes it more alluring.  

After all, how can you explain the uplifting and uncanny effect of this strain? And what about its multifarious flavour that layers fruit and spice with earth and pine? Perhaps we’ll never truly know. What we do know, though, is that this classic is here to stay.

Amassing an incredible snowfall of trichomes, the inspiration behind the name "White Widow" becomes ever-more clear by the end of the flowering phase. It’s no surprise then that it has gained legions of fans since its introduction in the mid-90s.

White Widow delivers a high that “moulds” to your circumstances. Whether it’s the morning, the evening, or somewhere in between, the euphoria induced by White Widow will inspire positivity and perseverance.

8. SKUNK #1

Thanks to this strain, “Skunk” has become both a noun and a verb in the cannabis community. While it’s sometimes used to describe especially pungent weed, the strain itself has more to offer than just a distinct aroma.

As a major feature of the indoor growing scene, and as one of the first popular sinsemilla (seedless bud) specimens, Skunk #1 is largely responsible for revolutionising the way weed is produced today.

The breeding stock used to create this strain spans multiple countries, culminating in an uber-robust and reliable plant. But it’s not just its growth that’s impressive; its high and flavour are equally stacked.

Although Skunk #1 is indica-dominant, the relaxing high exuded by this strain is just as chill as it is energetic. You’ll feel inspired and comfortable as you indulge in your stoned activity of choice. Rounding off the experience is a classically earthy, sweet, and skunky odour that permeates every space it enters.


Californian wunderkind OG Kush needs no formal introduction. Crafted by tireless breeders in the Golden State, OG Kush is perhaps the most notable strain of the modern day. Ushering in major changes to potency and flavour, OG kindled up something big in the weed community.

A combination of Chemdawg and Hindu Kush, the stark indica-sativa conflict in this strain is what gives it its magic. A relaxing, full-body high is not truly “full-body” unless the mind is eased as well. OG Kush handles you from head to toe, giving rise to euphoria and deep contentment.

Adapting well to different environments, OG Kush has become the new standard for high-quality harvests. Both the size of the plant and the size of its yields are impressive, and opposing tastes merge to create a moreish delight.

10. G13

Sometimes, you just want your indicas to behave like indicas. In cases like these, reach for G13. Reportedly one of the oldest strains on this list, G13 was forged upon a potent Afghani foundation. With strange tales surrounding its inception, what’s most important to know is that G13 comes packing some serious firepower.

High THC levels and an assortment of terpenes give way to a sleepy yet utterly happy high. This is relaxing weed through and through, but it’s not without a due bout of euphoria. Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to hear that notes of sweetness, earth, and mandarin orange caress the tongue with every toke.

Taking a little longer to flower than some of the other indicas on this list, G13 is not particularly difficult to grow, and it's definitely worth the wait. If massively potent buds are what you seek, you’ll need to give them time to mature.


The above 10 strains are undoubtedly iconic, but they rank among other, equally impressive cultivars. To check out additional icons like Super Silver Haze, Hindu Kush, and more, browse our strain hall of fame.  

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons

As a professional cannabis journalist, author, and copywriter, Adam has been writing about all things psychoactive, CBD, and everything in between for a long time. In an ever-changing market, Adam uses his BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism degree to keep in stride with contemporary research and contributing worthwhile information to all of his projects.