Dear Stoner: What's up with all of these crazy strain names?
Dear ND: Strain names are a pretty unique thing to cannabis growing. Other flowers, like roses, have more traditional names often derived from the people who bred or discovered them — like the Alba Rose or the Austin Rose. But cannabis cultivation and breeding has developed underground, away from any true governing bodies or international associations, and few people wanted to attach their real name to an illegal plant.
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Because of that, cannabis breeders use a wide range of names for their plants, ranging from the obvious (skunk smells like skunk, blueberry smells like blueberry, Hawaiian was bred in Hawaii, etc.) to the completely strange. Golden Goat, for example, was named for the smell of recycled soda cans rotting in the summer Kansas heat (seriously).
My favorite strain name is probably Skywalker OG or any of the other Star Wars-themed kush phenotypes. The force is strong with those. My least favorite? Pussy Kush. I can just see some L.A. douchebag really into tribal tattoos, muscle supplements and porn banging together a male and female plant and deciding that "pussy" was the most appealing description he could come up with for their offspring.
For the most part, strain names tend to stick and make it easy to identify plants — though less reputable dealers and dispensaries have been known to just slap any well-known name on their mid-grade herb to sell it.
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Dear Stoner: How are new strains created?
Dear Un-horticultured: It's a lot like dog breeding. If you mate two black labs, you're going to get labs. While the puppies might differ in small ways, such as size and intelligence, for the most part they are all the same breed. The same goes for seeds that have been stabilized through backcrossing the plants (horticulture-speak for incest). That way, you basically know what you're going to get when you order, say, AK-47 seeds, with only minor variations between the phenotypes (horticulture for offspring).
But breed a black lab with a greyhound, and you'll come up with all sorts of different variations in the puppies. Some will be long and lean, others loving and round-faced. Same with herb. Crossing two completely different strains in hopes of blending together their positive attributes is what brings us new types of cannabis. Once found, those unique strains are either passed along as clones (cuttings off of the original plant that grow into entire plants) or stabilized through backcrossing.