Afghan Cannabis Strains
Afghan Cannabis Strains
Origins of Cannabis
Cannabis is thought to have evolved in the Qinhai Plateau in eastern Tibet around 28 Million-years ago. The Neolithic Archaeological finds of fossil pollen suggest that it was first domesticated in multiple areas around Central Asia for its fibre and seeds. Recent research on wooden braziers stemming from C.500 BCE in Western China has shown concrete evidence of the selection of Cannabis for its Psychoactive properties. It was during this period that Cannabis began to Spread between China and Eastern Europe via a route that would have been the precursor to the Silk Road route. Proof of the Scythians burning Cannabis at their burial rituals appears to indicate that being a Central Asian tribe with nomadic and settled communities, they would have likely been responsible for the early dispersion of Cannabis as they migrated between India, Russia, China and Danube from the late Bronze Age to the 3rd century BCE.
In regions such as North and Eastern Asia, followed by Europe, Cannabis became a popular seed and fibre crop. Contrastingly, at the same time, one of the plant's main uses in central and southern Asia for its psychoactive properties. Afghanistan's geography (small populated valleys surrounded by towering mountains has always made the country tough to govern and consequently became an ideal place for cultivation. However, governmental pressures caused a slow but increasing decline in the production of Cannabis in regions such as Balkh. Nevertheless, in modern times at the physical heart of the first propagation of Cannabis, the traditional cultivation of Cannabis remains unchanged, making for a unique & pivotal part of Cannabis Culture(1).
Afghanistan, a country with a long history of cannabis cultivation, is known for its diverse and unique cannabis strains. These strains have deep connections to their origin regions, with each being home to distinct genetics that reflects the area's environmental conditions and cultural practices. This article will explore parts of Afghanistan and the associated cannabis genetics, focusing on whether they are landrace or hybrid varieties. We will also explore the diverse climates of Afghanistan and the types of Cannabis found in each region; some of these genetics are available through our Afghan Selection range of elite landrace seeds.
Afgan Regions and Their Cannabis Genetics
Afghanistan consists of several distinct territories, each known for producing unique Afghan Cannabis strains, so let's explore some of these regions and their associated genetics:
Hindu Kush Region
The first mention of Kush concerning Cannabis is about the varieties found in the Hindu Kush mountainous region of Northeast Afghanistan, which also stretches through present-day Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. Hindu Kush as a strain has direct links back to this region as its genetics will be descendants of landrace Indica dominant varieties or at least those with traditionally sedating terp profiles as previously discussed (link); the labels of Sativa and Indica are a topic of debate as obsolete ways of classing Cannabis genetics. A landrace is a original Cannabis strain not selectively bred in modern times that has organically developed over thousands of years in direct adaptation to the conditions of its native environment. That contrasts with a modern hybrid cultivar, a strain of Cannabis, where human breeding intervention occurs to produce traits desirable to the grower.
Across the Hindu Kush region, 'top-shelf' Cannabis was used to produce exceptional hashish by filtering crushed dry flower, a time-tested technique ideal for the typically arid and often cold environment along the southwestern periphery of Central Asia. Stories of the quality of hash and Afghan Cannabis strains resulted in a rush of travellers following the infamous 'Hippie Trail' spanning from Europe to India. Those familiar with Cannabis strains grown in other regions would've typically noted the terpene profile of the Hindi Kush strains and other Afghanistan strains consisted of a different spectrum of profiles that naturally express high resin production as well as possessing aromas more centred in the dank, earth and skunk world of fragrances.
Hindu Kush Climate
The climate of the Hindu Kush range of mountains does vary significantly. Still, it is extreme in many areas, with the northern regions being typically glacial and freezing with frequent harsh and dry winters, whilst the areas in the south are more frequently subject to seasonal monsoons. Primarily, the vegetation in this region is ‘sclerophyllous’, which describes vegetation that adapts to an environment with low rainfall volume & long periods of extreme heat. These plants are typically short but hardy evergreen trees and shunted shrubs.
Considering this native climate, & the expression of shrubs and plants in the area, it's obvious why the rapidly growing Afghan Kush is compact in stature, with broad fan leaves and a bushy structure resulting from natural adaptation to the shorter growing period. Over many periods, the Hindi Kush was grown and crossed to other Hindu Kush plants to enhance her attributes, resulting in plants that consistently produce consistent and stable progeny. The variety has high quantities of resin and became an essential source for the production of 'charas', an infamous form of hashish made from the live plant, by rolling the fresh, living flower between two hands and collating the resulting sticky resin glands off from their hands using a knife.
The genetics of the Hindu Kush cannabis varieties had thousands of years to adapt to the environment in the Hindu Kush mountains, so they excel. Often growing on inaccessible mountainsides, where they're safe from considerable dangers and grow at a high altitude slightly closer to the Sun. This reality, and the region's nutrient-rich soil, means the terroir suits growing potent Cannabis to the optimum level.
Hindu Kush is famous for her devastatingly powerful effects, with a profile expressing an earthy aroma and hash-like taste. Due to the isolated and mountainous terrain, this strain's landrace genetics have remained relatively unchanged over centuries. Hindu Kush is a pure indica plant; whilst the taxonomy of the Cannabis plant and its subspecies has been a hot topic of debate in recent times, plants with a 'pure indica terp profile' produce euphoria and relaxation that tend to make one feel sedated, the Hindi Kush delivers powerful effects due to its heavy THC content.
The Balkh region is within Northern Afghanistan and where the Mazar-I-Sharif strain stems from, close to the borders of Ubekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikstan; this strain is a legendary landrace variety that packs around 20%THC based on testing. There is no shortage of Afghani expressions in modern strains throughout cannabis culture, but the original Mazar-I-Sharif can reportedly extend up to 13 feet in height when cultivated in the fertile soils in northern Afghanistan. Mazar-I-Sharif is another sedating, India-Afghanistan landrace, so a potent and lasting experience is to be expected; it is also a stellar hashish strain, as so many Afghanistan strains are. The strain is full of classic Afghani and Kush flavours that blends spicy, herbal pine notes that all cling to the area you're enjoying it in. A few sour notes & sweet blend in amongst the classicly-earthy profile as well as sage, incense & wood, demonstrating her many complexities.
Reportedly, Mazar-I-Sharif's profile dominates with Linalool, Caryophyllene and Mycreene, which packs in lavender notes, black pepper spicy notes & herbal aromas, respectively. However, several different seed banks offer the strain, such as one of our seed brands, the Afghan Selection range. In Afghanistan, the native farmers typically harvest between October and Early December, which they then use to produce traditional Afghanistan hashish. Like many Afghanistan hashish landraces, the Mazar-i-Sharif expresses chemotypes ranging from high-THC to higher CBD, this is part of the reason that Afghan landraces are a stellar choice for breeders or those looking to run a little project; these seeds are perfect for collectors.
Herat is a city with an oasis at its heart, the third largest in Afghanistan, located within the namesake province, Herat is one of the oldest cities and is a world heritage location. This location has a cold, semi-arid climate characterised by low rainfall throughout the year, with the heaviest periods of downfall occurring in winter. Parts of the eastern side, where the Hari River is located, are generally frozen solid throughout winter, and travellers & locals use it as a road. Herat was one of the stops on the Hippie trail on the route toward India, and it was a popular point of rest in the 1970s when many cannabis enthusiasts would travel the trail in search of the best hashish and different varieties of Cannabis to those found in the west at that time.
Local farmers typically produce Cannabis grown here for small-scale trades or for personal consumption. Some of the seeds selected from plants in this region produce an exotic scent that is equal parts sweet and fresh with hints of wild berries and a resinous hashy flavour. The buds can get very dense and pack a lot of weight but the plants themselves are consistent in appearance & structure, ensuring that these plants tend to support their weight easily.
There are many reasons why Afghanistan genetics are sought-after by collectors, breeders and growers alike, from their stellar growing characteristics to their high resin production and sedative effects as well as their hardiness thanks to their natural environment. As a result of these traits many growers Afghanistan genetics to make genetic crosses with, whether in F2 variety or with their cultivars/ phenotypes.
Characteristics of Afghan Cannabis
Aroma and Flavor
Afghani strains are distinctive thanks to their intense aromas, typically including earthiness, pine, and spice notes. The flavour profile tends to be equally captivating, with a rich combination of sweet and spicy undertones.
Afghani Cannabis thrives in harsh and challenging growing conditions, making it a suitable choice for experienced cultivators. Its resilience to adverse weather and pests is a testament to its heritage.
Thereauptic Effects of Afghani Cannabis
Afghani cannabis strains are often a great choice for their potential therapeutic benefits, including:
The analgesic properties of Afghani cannabis strains may provide relief from those suffering with certain pain conditions.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
The calming effects of these strains may alleviate stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation and mental well-being.
Afghani cannabis strains' sedative properties can be beneficial for individuals experiencing sleep disturbances.
Non-therapeutic effects of Afghani Cannabis
Apart from its therapeutic and potentially medicinal uses, Afghani cannabis is also desirable thanks to its effects & physical properties:
Relaxation and Euphoria
Afghani strains can induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria, making them suitable for unwinding after a long day.
Many users enjoy the social experience of using Afghani cannabis strains in a relaxed and comfortable setting.
1. (as described in Afghanistan, Fortress of Cannabis by Lucas Strazzeri).