What is Ruderalis?

Read time:  5 minutes, 5 seconds

You have probably heard of Indica and Sativa, but did you know that there is a third type of cannabis known as ruderalis? The underdog of the cannabis world, botanists still argue over whether ruderalis qualifies as a separate species of cannabis, or if it is really just a subspecies. We will explore everything that pertains to Cannabis ruderalis in this article.

Cannabis ruderalis was reportedly first classified in 1924 by Russian botanist D.E. Janischewsky. The botanist was studying cannabis when he noticed a plant with differences in shape and size than other varieties that had previously been analyzed.

What’s in a name?

The term Cannabis ruderalis is derived from the Latin word rudera, which translates into English as “rubble”. A ruderal species is defined as a plant that colonizes lands after disturbances occur (such as wildfires, avalanches and human intervention including construction and mining) and continues to grow in spite of its environmental conditions. The term ruderalis originally was used to refer to species of hemp that escaped human cultivation in Russia.

Ruderalis plants are rugged and are able to survive in almost any environment. For this reason, ruderalis is often referred to as a “wild” form of cannabis. Whereas sativa and indica cannabis varieties are believed to have origins rooted in south central Asia, ruderalis plants are native to Russia and can be found growing naturally across Asia and Central Europe. Ruderalis has also been found growing in the extreme climate of the northern Himalayas. Researchers are split as to whether ruderalis is a naturally-occurring plant, or if it escaped from cultivation into the environment at one point in history.

Researchers are split as to whether ruderalis is a naturally-occurring plant, or if it escaped from cultivation into the environment at one point in history.

Material Qualities

Cannabis ruderalis is a relatively short and stalky plant when compared to other cannabis types and will typically only grow to a height of 1 to 2.5 feet tall at peak harvest time. Some growers refer to ruderalis as “dwarf” or bonsai cannabis because of this short stature.

The leaves of ruderalis plants tend to be wider and possess a lighter green colour than sativa or indica plants. The buds harvested from ruderalis are typically small and chunky and are supported by thick and strong fibrous stems. Ruderalis tends to have a smaller number of branches than sativa or indica.

Ruderalis plants are generally not cultivated for recreational purposes since they typically contain only a small concentration of THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active compound that is responsible for producing the intoxicating high reported by recreational cannabis users. However, ruderalis varieties frequently have high CBD levels. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the active compound that most of the cannabis plant’s medicinal and therapeutic applications are attributed to. By mixing ruderalis with other strains, breeders can increase these cannabinoid percentages while simultaneously maintaining all of the benefits that ruderalis provides.


Cannabis is an annual plant. This means that, in nature, cannabis plants grow from new seeds every year, mature, and then die at the end of the flowering process. The majority of cannabis cultivars are “photoperiod”, meaning that they are used to receiving a certain amount of sunlight and darkness throughout the day depending on what season it is. Typically, indoor systems are designed to mimic the natural summer-time outdoor cycle of approximately 18 hours of sunlight and 6 hours of darkness. Most photoperiod strains will transition into flowering when the hours of daylight dip below 15 (signalling in nature that fall/harvest time is approaching).

Ruderalis, however, is an “auto-flowering” plant, which means that it doesn’t depend on seasonal changes to begin flowering. Regardless of the amount of light exposure, auto-flowering cannabis will start to flower approximately 21 to 30 days post-germination. Ruderalis varieties also typically mature faster and are therefore ready to harvest earlier than other species of cannabis.

Ruderalis varieties adapted to their local climate and are used to thriving in short, cool summers. Ruderalis seeds detach easily and can survive an entire season in frozen ground until conditions change to allow for growth. Ruderalis seeds are much more durable than those from sativa or indica plants. These seeds have evolved to survive being stepped on and cracked open by animals or humans.

Ruderalis Hybrids

Cannabis ruderalis has long been a wild cannabis breed. However, in recent years, ruderalis has been cultivated and bred with other strains to create new hybrids.

Ruderalis is typically bred with other cultivars to capitalize on its auto-flowering properties. Mixing ruderalis with any other strain will essentially turn that strain into an auto-flowering variety. Ruderalis strains also have a strong resistance to pests and diseases. Additionally, growers will breed ruderalis to control the potential size of their plants and speed up the growing process, as ruderalis varieties mature faster than other hybrids.

Ruderalis hybrids include: Northern Lights Autoflowering, Gorilla Glue Autoflowering, White Widow Autoflowering, Royal Bluematic, Amnesia Haze Autoflowering, AC/DC, Alaskan Thunder Fuck, CBD Critical Cure and many more.

Ruderalis vs Other Types Of Cannabis

The differences between sativa, indica and ruderalis in their growing patterns can be attributed to the wildly different ecosystems encountered by the Cannabis Sativa phenotype that originally developed in tropical areas. As the cannabis plant spread further north of the equator following the last ice age, the plant changed and evolved into new forms to thrive in unfamiliar climates. Unlike sativa and indica, ruderalis has been largely unaffected by human intervention and agriculture.


Cannabis Indica is a species of the genus cannabis. The plant is distinguishable by its relatively short stature, broad leaves, and short flowering cycles. While Cannabis Indica originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is now grown and consumed all over the world.


Cannabis Sativa is another species of the genus cannabis. Physically, the Cannabis Sativa plant is noted for its tall height, narrow leaves, and long flowering cycles. Sativa is indigenous to East Asia, but just like Indica, it is now available worldwide.

Ruderalis in Canada

Cannabis is legal for recreational and medicinal purposes in Canada. You can find cultivars that have Cannabis ruderalis in their genetic make-up through privately-licensed or provincially-run storefronts across the country. One example of a strain with ruderalis on the legal market is AC/DC from BlissCo.

Celebrating 420: The History of Cannabis in Canada

April 20th, also known as 420 has become an important day within the cannabis movement. In honour of the international day of celebrating cannabis, we take a look back at the history of cannabis culture and legalization in Canada.

SESHIQUETTE: Social Distancing Edition

“Seshing” has always been a way for the cannabis community to connect and feel welcomed in hard times. Unfortunately, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made it very difficult to Sesh together for the foreseeable future.

What is THCP and CBDP?

A group of Italian researchers announced the discovery of two new phytocannabinoids that were isolated from the Cannabis sativa L. plant species. The study was led by Professor Giuseppe Cannazza from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and was published in Scientific Reports.