Cannabis Ruderalis – A Cornerstone of Weed Genetics


It’s likely that you’ve heard of Cannabis Sativa and Indica, but have you heard of Cannabis Ruderalis? Originally thought to be a variant Cannabis Sativa, the lesser-known Cannabis Ruderalis is in a unique position where botanists are in disagreement as to whether Ruderalis meets the requirements to be qualified as an entirely separate species or a subspecies of cannabis

Even if you’re not familiar with this odd sounding strain, chances are you’ve smoked it, enjoyed it and gotten high off of either ruderalis, or a strain that has included ruderalis in its genetics. Here’s why the the cannabis ruderalis strain is so highly prized and why it’s an integral part of the cannabis cultivation community. 

What is Cannabis Ruderalis?

ruderalis guide

Cannabis Ruderalis is said to be the third possible species or subspecies of the cannabis plant. The name Ruderalis is derived from the term ruderal, which in botanical vernacular translates to a species of plant that is able to colonize the land despite the presence of human disturbance and interruption.

That said, this particular subspecies is a feral variant of the cannabis plant that flourishes abundantly throughout regions of Central Asia and Russia. Cannabis Ruderalis is known to have a unique auto-flowering characteristic, allowing the plant to flower independently of the light cycle of its environment.

As a result, Cannabis Ruderalis is able to grow even during seasons where lighting is severely limited, producing flowers throughout the year.

Genetic Origins

Cannabis Ruderalis was first identified at around 1930 through its distinctive minimalistic structure by Russian botanist D.E. Janischewsky. 

Though the exact origins of the subspecies are unknown, it is commonly thought to have spawned in the Central Asian and Russian regions thousands of years prior. In fact, to this day, Ruderalis still continues to inhabit the area abundantly, even in high traffic zones.

Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis – The Differences

ruderalis definition

Since the advent of cannabis, botanist and cultivators have relied on physical traits to differentiate one subspecies from another. Indicators such as size, shape of the leaf and the amount of fiber produced were key components used to differentiate individual species of the plants.

In terms of appearance, the Cannabis Ruderalis tends to be much smaller in size compared to Sativa and Indica plants. They typically grow to heights of 1 to 2.5 feet high, which could be beneficial to those who are looking to grow in tighter spaces. 

The plants also tend to don a much stalkier appearance than their counterparts, possessing narrower leaves and even fewer side branches. While this strain is known to produce bud, they typically are much smaller in size when compared to the harvests of Sativa or Indica strains.


Due to the physical constraints of Ruderalis, the subspecies has often been overlooked as the net yield is much smaller compared to its cousins. However, this disadvantage is offset by Ruderalis’ unique auto-flowering trait. Unlike Ruderalis’ counterparts, light cycles do not play a critical role in the development of the plant. Cannabis Ruderalis has been shown to flower regardless of the change in light cycle, but rather in regard to the actual maturity of the plants themselves. 

For growers, that means a lot less maintenance in caring for the plants, however, there is much less control in manipulating the final harvest with custom light sources. That said, Ruderalis seems to be more suited for independent growers at home rather than commercial cultivators as their independent nature may cause issues in conforming to the typical harvest periods of commercial Sativa and Indica crops.

That said, Cannabis Ruderalis does have a redeeming quality for commercial usage. Their auto-flowering trait lends itself to be crossbred with many other more commercial-friendly species to create hybrids with the added benefit of auto-flowering. To figure out whether a strain has been crossbred or not, growers will often label their auto-flowering hybrids as automatic or auto to categorize them accordingly.

Although auto-flowering is greatly beneficial to keeping crops low maintenance, there is a cost to get the trait. It is important to note that strains that have been crossbred with Ruderalis tend to produce plants that grow slightly smaller than non-hybridized variants.

Ruderalis Cannabinoid Makeup

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When compared to the other two subspecies, Ruderalis strains are typically much higher in CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and lower in THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.  

The exact balance has changed over the years due to deliberate crossbreeding, however, a cannabis species is considered Ruderalis if it contains a 1 to 1 ratio of THC to CBD.

Since CBD has agonistic behaviors towards the psychoactive effects of THC, the balanced ratio of THC to CBD in Ruderalis will produce a less potent high with more mild psychoactive effects. 

That said, Ruderalis carries plenty of value for patients or consumers who are looking for a more subdued experience with cannabis. CBD’s prowess in treating a wide range of issues is not limited to:

  • Paranoia and/or anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Dystonia
  • Parkinson disease
  • Crohn disease
  • Various other conditions…

Growth Cycle

As mentioned before, the main distinction for Ruderalis plants is their ability to auto-flower when they have reached the correct maturity instead of depending on the environment’s light cycle. 

This trait lends Ruderalis to flower to possess a shorter flowering phase, and an overall low maintenance profile, ideal for year-round growth or those who have limited equipment. The balanced cannabinoid content coupled with the low maintenance of the plant makes it an ideal choice for consumers who are looking to grow for medicinal purposes or have limited space and lighting in their area of operation.

Legality of Cannabis Ruderalis

As the name suggests, Cannabis Ruderalis is considered to be a subspecies of the cannabis plant. Due to this, Ruderalis is regulated in the same manner as other forms of cannabis. It is important to refer to your region’s legal status of cannabis to be safe.

Where to Get Ruderalis?

Unfortunately, Ruderailis isn’t a common find in most dispensaries as its popularity is more catered towards growers who are interested in the auto-flowering trait. Though rare, you may have luck in finding auto-flowering seeds at dispensaries. That said, due to the low maintenance of the strain, you may be better off attempting to grow it on your own.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a big-time commercial cultivator or a ninja farmer overseeing a stealthy crop, we hope this article helped shed some light on the characteristics of Cannabis Ruderalis for you. If you’re interested in growing your own auto-flowering plants, experiment with the next time you start your grow op!

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