Article by D. J. Short


O’Shaughnessys • Winter/Spring 2013 —61—
There’s Cannabis Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis…
Proposing a new Classification: ‘Cannabis Indoor’
Plants acclimate to the indoor
environment after several gen-
erations of breeding within it.
Some in the industry use the term ‘genet-
ic bottlenecking’ to describe varietals that
have been overly inbred. Such ‘bottleneck-
ing,’ would occur only after many, many
generations in the wild. In my opinion,
what is actually occurring is that plants
acclimate to the indoor environment after
several generations of breeding within it.
My varieties all originate from land-
race, true breeding stock that tend to hold
their uniqueness over several generations
of breeding indoors. This remains true
through about the seventh to ninth gen-
eration removed from the original progeny
By the tenth generation, all of the prog-
eny tend to become rela-
tively generic, pretty
much the same, and in my
opinion have acclimated
to the indoor environment.
This is why so many of
the various hybrids avail-
able today are so similar to
one another in overall ef-
fect and desirability. They
Cannabis growing in the Himalayan Mountains is exposed to have become a new sub-
ultraviolet light unfiltered by the atmosphere. UV light seems to species, or varietal, that I
“coax” changes in phenotype. Photo was made by Arne Huck- think should be designated
elheim outide the village of Kalopani. In background is the “Cannabis Indoor.”
peak of Mt. Dhaulagiri (elevation 26,795 feet).
‘Ruderalis,’ in my opinion, was a phe-
nomenon coaxed via selective breeding in
the early 1980s. Breeders who appreciated
the short flowering time of the indica may
have over-selected for that one trait, result-
ing in plants that tend to possess little me-
dicinal value.
I’ve yet to sample anything of interest
that took less than seven weeks in flower
to finish indoor, or anything harvested be-
fore mid-September at or near 45 degrees
There is a variety labeled ‘Ruderalis’
that exists north of 50 degrees latitude.
There is also rumor of intrepid voyagers
who trekked through Russia to retrieve the
legendary ‘by-the-side-of-the-road’ hemp
seeds. I hope not, as the same thing could
be found in Minnesota or Manitoba. At any
rate, the famed ‘ruderalis’ is generally use-
less in its pure form medicinally. Certain
specific/unique cannabinoid profiles may
be found via some form of ruderalis hybrid
and rigorous testing.
High UV light seems to have an effect
on resin type and might possibly even in-
fluence plant type. One aspect of the true
tropics (the area between latitude 23 de-
grees North and 23 degrees South) is direct
overhead sunlight twice per year. Couple
the lack of atmospheric filtration with high
elevation and the result is maximum UV
light. Cannabis grown outside the tropics
in Nepal and Kashmir also gets high UV
exposure because of the height of the Hi-
malayas. High UV light systems are avail-
able for the indoor horticulture market.
Another aspect to consider regarding
manipulating indoor grow environments
is that of light timing. The light cycle of
a tropical sativa would be approximately
13 hours of light and 11 hours of dark for
the vegetative stage and approximately 11
hours of light with 13 hours of dark for the
flower cycle. I expect such a light regimen
— especially 13-hours-on/11-off during
the vegetative phase— would encourage
lengthier growth times. Such a light regi-
men, coupled with high UV light sources,
may encourage truer sativa-leaning pheno-
type from the indoor grow environment.
By DJ Short
Most of the lines of cannabis offered to-
day to medical users —and to cultivators,
as seeds or clones— are hybrids. There are
very few pure landrace varieties available,
and the few that are tend to be of lower
quality/desirability when grown indoors.
There seem to be more indica-leaning vari-
etals than sativa, as the indica lines tend to
be easier (and quicker) to “coax” into pro-
ducing marketable qualities.
Which characteristics determine the dif-
ference between sativa and indica? Many
look to leaf shape/structure as an indicator,
but I have witnessed some wide-leaved sa-
tiva and some narrow-leaved indica. There
may be some relation between the number
of leaflets (or leaf-blades or “fingers”) per
leaf and sativa/indica makeup, with sativa
having more blades per leaf, especially in
the late vegetative stage of growth. Sativa
generally tends to be taller, indica shorter,
again with exceptions to the rule.
The only consistent indicator I have
found to distinguih true sativa and indica is
flowering time, with sativa taking longer.
The true, landrace tropical sativa would
sometimes take up to 20 weeks to finish in-
doors under a long-night light cycle while
the average indica flower time is approxi-
mately eight weeks.
The only other indicator in my opinion
is resin type, with sativa having more open
oils and resin on the leaf/calyx surface.
Tackiness is indicative of potency, but also
of other potentially desirable characteris-
tics. Stickiness tends to suggest open resin
and oils at the surface, or easily ruptured
gland heads. There appear to be secretory
hairs that pump non-encapsulated liquid to
the leaf surface. This phenomenon is more
common among the more sativa-leaning
lines and may well prove to be a desirable
It has been suggested that the glandu-
lar stalked trichome, with oils and resin
produced by secretory cells and encapsu-
lated within a membrane at the tip of the
trichome ‘stalk,’ were bred for hashish
production outside of the tropics. In tropi-
cal regions to which sativas are native, the
main form of hashish extraction is hand
rubbing —a technique that makes open oils
and resin desirable. Outside of the tropics,
where indicas prevail, the main form of
hashish extraction is some form of sieving
where membrane-encapsulated oils and
resins are advantageous.
Hand rubbing is usually done with live
plants whereas sieving involves harvested
and usually dried material (except for some
forms of ice-water extraction that produce
pure resin from fresh frozen flowers and/
or trim).
Note that there is a difference between
plants developed for high quality hash and
high quality bud production. Generally
speaking, many gland heads packed with
the proper oils are desired for hashish pro-
duction (indica), whereas more open oils
saturating the flower/leaf surface seem to
be a desirable indicator for the sativa-lean-
ing plants.
Environmental Triggers
Genotype refers to the genetic makeup of an organism, its genetic code, the specific
order of the ‘G’s’ and ‘T’s’ and ‘A’s’ and ‘C’s’ of its DNA.
Phenotype refers to the actual physical expressions witnessed in an organism,
which are often influenced by environmental factors or “triggers.”
An example I like to use involves the purpling of leaves and flowers on some plants
brought on by cooling temperature. In order to witness the phenomenon, the plant
must possess the genotype (genetic makeup) for cool-temperature purpling and the
plant must be exposed to lowered temperatures (the environmental trigger).
It does not appear to be a specific cold temperature per se that causes the plant to
purple. The phenomenon is brought on by a certaom difference or range between
day and night temperatures. That is, the plant does not react specifically to the actual
temperature, it reacts to the difference between day and night temperatures, usually at
least a 20 degree Fahrenheit differential.
The key point is that phenotypic expressions are induced by environmental triggers.
There are many phenotypic expressions yet to be coaxed from the genus Cannabis,
especially from our thus far limited indoor environment. But there are many areas we
may begin to explore.
Perhaps the most obvious factors involve the timing and frequency of exposure
to light. Light timing refers to the schedules of ‘day/night’ that we utilize in our
grow rooms. Most cultivators now expose plants in their vegetative stage to light
for 18-hours-on/6-hours-off, then switch to 12-hours-on/12-hours-off when the plants
begin to flower.
I was advised by some old-timers in the mid-‘80’s to reduce the amount of light
provided during flowering to 11-and-a-half -hours-on and 12-and-a-half-hours off. I
have since had extremely good luck using 11-hours-on/13-hours-off during flowering
Plants take on nutrient during the day hours and translate that into fiber production at
night. Therefore this 11-on/13-off lighting strategy tends to increase production while
at the same time saving some electricity. Also, light is one of the main components
that degrades or breaks down active cannabinoids.
Another ‘trigger’ we have available to manipulate is that of light frequency, or light
‘temperature,’ also referred to as ‘Kelvin’ rating (color). We are discovering that high
ultraviolet radiation inspires production of various cannabinoids. There are bulbs
and light systems available now that offer high UV output, and new products are
constantly being introduced. These systems need to be tested and the results analyzed
in order to get a better grasp of the relationship between these phenomenon. To which
end there is no substitute for adequate data collection, analysis and research.
—DJ Short
Although we may be able to manipu-
late our indoor environment to some ex-
tent with advancing technology, no indoor
environment will ever rival the highland
tropical environment for triggers capable
of coaxing interesting phenotypes. That
is, there is no substitute for the great out-
doors, especially the upland tropical envi-
ronment, for producing truly unique, de-
sirable, quality herb.
Finally, aspects of effect need to be con-
sidered regarding indica, sativa and indoor
hybrids. Generally speaking, sativa tends
to be described as ‘uplifting,” “stimulat-
ing,” “bright,” etc. whereas indica tends
to be more “down,” “sedating,” “narcot-
ic,” “sleepy,” etc. But there are excep-
tions and combinations of both.
There is nothing short of long-term
testing to determine the many and often
subtle effects of quality cannabis. Con-
sideration needs to be given to quality
hashish production using domestically
produced plants. I believe that this is
where domestic quality and desirability
will best shine. Happy hunting!




Interesting. :smiley: