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What Is Cannabis Ruderalis? Definition, Effects, And More

Last updated: 19 December 2023

cannabis ruderalis

Quite often in modern culture, we see how things that have been around forever undergo a revival thanks to advanced research and modern-day applications. Cannabis Ruderalis is a great example of such a phenomenon taking place in the marijuana industry. While cannabis Ruderalis plants are ancient in nature, their unique characteristics are affecting today’s world of weed more than ever before. Let’s review the past, present, and future of the species to find out how cannabis Ruderalis and its unique characteristics are used in the modern cannabis market.

Ruderalis – Definition

So, what is Ruderalis? The name itself comes from the word ruderal or rudera. In plant terms, that means this type of cannabis is a hardy species that can grow despite many environmental disturbances. It does so by being resilient to colder climates and flowering automatically without dependence on the amount of light received – something neither Sativas nor Indicas are capable of doing! Moreover, Ruderalis grows wildly, and its applications among growers and smokers are also quite unique (more about this later). As the third subspecies of the cannabis plant, Ruderalis is trending now more than ever due to its key differences from Indicas and Sativas, most of which are due to Ruderalis’ origins. Let’s learn more about this next.

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Where Did Cannabis Ruderalis Come From?

ruderalis strains

Like coffee from Colombia or oranges from Florida, most plant species come from climates that are ideal for steady, healthy growth. The cannabis Ruderalis plant is no different. Ruderalis strains originate from Russia, Central/Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Due to the harsher environments of these areas, the ‘wild’-growing species of Ruderalis escaped domestication and adapted to the harsh conditions thanks to their ability to start flowering on their own, shorter growing times, smaller statures, and thick, sturdy stems.

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You likely already know that Indica and Sativa strains grow differently in terms of height and shape, consequently producing their own unique cannabinoid content – different levels of THC, CBD, and other chemical compounds that provide specific effects. So, if Ruderalis plants grow their own way, wildly and quickly, how do the effects differ from Indica and Sativa plants?

Cannabis Ruderalis Effects & Cannabinoid Content

Cannabis Ruderalis plants naturally produce higher amounts of CBD than THC, the latter of which is almost non-existent in their chemical composition compared to Indicas and Sativas. This makes Ruderalis buds desirable for those looking to harness the health benefits of cannabis without the ‘high’ of THC.

Since high CBD levels are somewhat rare in most strains, how do Ruderalis effects differ? Overall, the increased levels of CBD found in Ruderalis buds produce calming and relaxing effects. In fact, strains that are high in CBD are often recommended for those suffering from anxiety or insomnia. This is among other medical benefits of CBD like inflammation reduction, pain relief, lowering high blood pressure, and more. Because CBD can counteract psychoactive THC effects, the main benefit of Ruderalis strains is healing without the high.

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However, you’re unlikely to find pure cannabis Ruderalis strains on dispensary shelves or 100% cannabis Ruderalis seeds for sale online. On the other hand, many marijuana genetics nowadays have Ruderalis origins. This is because its naturally occurring properties are highly sought after by cannabis breeders for creating hybrid autoflowering strains. Continue reading to learn why. 

Using Ruderalis To Create Autoflowering Cannabis

ruderalis weed

More and more each day, the progress of technology and research can be seen in the weed industry. This is why modern-day cannabis breeders are using Ruderalis genes to create autoflowering seeds, thereby increasing the overall number of harvests growers can gain and decreasing turnaround time for products that are high in demand. So, what exactly is an autoflowering strain and how are Ruderalis autoflower properties changing the growing game?

Sativa and Indica strains rely on photoperiods of light and dark to begin flowering the precious buds so loved by their consumers. The start of their flowering phase is controlled either by the change in seasons and daylight periods shorter than 12 hours when weed is grown outdoors, or by growers shutting off the lights for 12 hours or longer when growing indoors.

However, unlike the sun-loving Indicas and Sativas, cannabis Ruderalis, as we’ve already mentioned, originates from the colder parts of the world. There, shorter summers made Ruderalis adapt to the limited hours of light, and thrive by developing unique autoflowering characteristics. Autoflowering means just that – cannabis Ruderalis plants will begin flowering on ‘autopilot’, or automatically, independent of any periods of light or darkness – they simply know when their time is! Luckily, a couple of decades ago, marijuana breeders found a way to cross Ruderalis with Indicas and Sativas to create autoflowering cannabis, which is both psychoactive and starts to flower on their own.

Lowryder is said to be the first-ever autoflowering hybrid strain – a three-way cross between the legendary Northern Lights #2, the lesser-known Mexican Ruddy, and the Ruderalis species William’s Wonder. Autoflower genetics on the market today are only getting better and better, and with advancements in crossbreeding, this type of cannabis strain combines traits of resilient Ruderalis with the psychoactive and medicinal properties of Indicas and Sativas. As a result, when investing in autoflowering cannabis seeds, growers not only harvest buds of increased potencies, but also automate their growing processes. Autoflowering cannabis derived from Ruderalis has an ensemble of benefits that can elevate your growing experience in a variety of ways. Let’s get into those details in the next part of this article.

There’s More To Ruderalis: Speed, Stealth, Resilience

When crossing a Ruderalis strain with an Indica and/or Sativa, you’re benefiting from each species. The hybrid outcome has all the properties and effects of the chosen Indica or Sativa gene, along with higher concentrations of CBD from the Ruderalis strain – not to mention those uniquely quick autoflowering growth capabilities. Here are a few unique traits of cannabis Ruderalis strains that transfer to hybrid autoflowering genetics: 

what is ruderalis

  • Compact size – Ruderalis and autoflowering cannabis plants derived from it are always more compact in size than Indicas and especially Sativas. Perfect for stealthy grow ops, autoflowering cannabis with Ruderalis genes typically doesn’t grow above 2.5 feet (75cm) in height. Boasting thick stems, wide leaves, and sturdy buds, these plants are ideal for growers looking to keep their grow discrete or those with limited space for flowering plants.

    ruderalis plant

  • Exceptional resilience – Most Indica and Sativa strains can be finicky to grow. However, due to the origins of Ruderalis strains, autoflowering cannabis is extremely hardy in nature, just like its wild parent. Their seeds can withstand cracking or breaking, and plants can even endure colder temperatures and strong winds.

    ruderalis buds

  • Faster harvests – Autoflowering cannabis strains, thanks to their Ruderalis genes, are typically ready for harvest in just 10 weeks or even less. To put this into comparison, Indica and Sativa plants have a growing cycle ranging from 12-32 weeks depending on the strain and location. This characteristic is perfect for many growers, as it allows them to benefit from multiple harvests in one season.
  • Light-independent flowering cycle – Again, thanks to their origins, cannabis Ruderalis, and, therefore autoflowering strains, begin to flower automatically – usually between 14-28 days from planting the seeds. This makes them ideal for growers who have better things to do than controlling lightbulbs in their grow rooms.

The Future Of Cannabis Ruderalis

Although cannabis Ruderalis is the least-known cannabis species, it’s certainly not lesser in benefits, which is why the use of this unique cannabis plant will continue to grow within the industry. Since Ruderalis cannabis plants are easy to manage, autoflowering in nature, and high in CBD, their popularity will undoubtedly continue to rise among breeders. Even though Ruderalis likely won’t be used for smoking on its own due to the lack of psychoactive properties, it’s still a treasure for creating more outstanding autoflowering strains.

Your article made me happy to discover that there are still knowledgeable researchers who can take time out of their busy schedules to put all this together. I will immediately subscribe to your RSS feed to stay updated on any changes you make
Fascinating article, I was aware of the ruderalis species and I've even heard of it being sold (not just as autos). From all I've read it's not a particularly prized plant for consumption but I'd never pass on a chance to try it out.
Hi, We are happy that you find these article useful. Ruderalis mostly used for producing autoflowering strains and gaining its resistant qualities
If its available at a dispensary, it's probably an autoflowering strain that will have similar effects and flavor to its indica/sativa parent. The ruderalis traits appear to be separable from cannabinoid production, never heard of it consumed on it’s own really! But if you get a chance, post an update!
So is there any high from Ruderalis itself? I mean if it’s the same species there must be thc and cbd right? Is it any different from sativa/indica?
Hello Joshhiggi,This strain can contain some THC/CBD but it will be low amount of them
There is no high... Ruderalis is almost devoid of THC. it's also why many of the autoflowers are somewhat lacking in potency.
I have pure landrace Ruderalis growing in the wild in my area. My verdict - not suitable for smoking deffo, too low in THC, but it works pretty well for making psychoactive concentrates. Probably there’s medicinal use to it as well
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