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A History of Cannabis

52 posts in this topic

Thanks for the heads up Namkha.

A new book by RCC has to be worth a read.


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In Hilligs study Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae) they assigned Garhwali hemp as C. Chinensis, which would suggest double origins of modern northeast Indian strains.

where did Hillig do that? you've misread him I think... Garhwal is in the Western Himalaya, Northwest India 30N

Bean pole phenotypes are much more common where cannabis is grown for multiple purposes, while in strictly ganja producing areas (Kerala) plants tend to be bushier.

hmm... not sure about that... indoors in a small plot Himalayan plants may often tend to grow somewhat like a 'bean pole' in a small pot, but given space as they would be in an outdoor grow for charas they will stretch out... either Christmas tree shaped, or big and bushy

in the Himalaya you have situations where you have specialised charas strains as well as multipurpose strains...

most of the strains offered by RSC would fall under the specialised charas category... e.g. Nanda Devi, Nepalese, Malana Cream etc.

the multipurpose strains that make more rustic/coarse charas, large seeds for food, and fibre... the strain that was sold as Nepalese White Mountain is an example of that

the Kumaoni (and the original Pahari Farmhouse) straddles the categories though, as it has the big seeds, could be used for fibre, but also makes good strong charas

it's an articifial distinction though - as the Nepalese would be in practice 100% exclusively for charas, and the Malana and Garhwali too, but people will still keep and eat the seeds, and the fibres could probably still be used

in SEAsia there are ganja strains, fibre strains, and the large seeded Chinese hemp strains too... but they aren't grown in close proximity

Edited by namkha

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an excerpt

Chapter 1: Natural Origins and Early Evolution of Cannabis

"What seest thou else

In the dark backward and abysm of time?"

William Shakespeare - The Tempest


Basic life cycle of Cannabis

Ecological requirements of Cannabis: Sunlight, temperature, water and soil

Cannabis origin and evolution studies

Central Asia: Vavilov and the origins of Cannabis

Cannabis and Vitis

Theories for South Asian origin of domesticated Cannabis

Model for the early evolution of Cannabis

Summary and conclusions


Where and when did humans first come into contact with Cannabis? And how and why did people begin to employ these extremely useful plants? In order to support our hypothetical scenario of early human interactions with Cannabis presented in the introduction, we need to identify when and where the species originated. What were our planet's environmental and biotic conditions during Cannabis' early evolution? What are the environmental conditions in which it grows naturally without human help? Can we realistically understand how Cannabis evolved? And if so, where and how did it evolve? To answer these questions we must investigate the basic life cycle and ecological requirements of Cannabis. After understanding the botany and ecology of Cannabis, including an identification of its closest botanical relatives, an analysis of the processes through which it reproduces and an application of these parameters to ancient vegetation and climate reconstructions, then we can begin to comprehend its geographical and evolutionary origins (see Chapter 11 for discussions of climate reconstruction, refugia, and species formation).

Many avenues must be explored during a thorough study of the origin and evolution of any cultivated plant. We have utilized diverse sub-disciplines of botany, along with archaeology, paleontology, history, linguistics and geography to provide useful insights into the origin and dispersal of Cannabis (also see Chapter 3). The data gleaned from each approach have been filtered and then assembled carefully in order to gain the clearest possible view of the plant's antiquity. Several great plant geographers studied Cannabis and we investigate their theories of origin in Central and South Asia. Even so, the information is often incomplete for a particular region or era, and it is important to resist temptation to indulge in idle conjecture without sufficient facts to back up hypotheses. With this in mind, we have attempted to assemble enough data to support the hypotheses for the natural origin and early evolution of Cannabis presented here. However, we have constructed only the skeleton of our model and additional, more rigorous, biosystematic analysis is still needed to flesh out more detail. [Figure01.01.a-j]

Basic life cycle of Cannabis

Typically, Cannabis is a medium to tall, erect, annual herb, but environmental influences strongly affect the growth habits ofindividual plants throughout its range. Provided with an open sunny environment, light well-drained soil and sufficient nutrients and water, Cannabis can grow to a height of five meters (16 feet) in a four to six month growing season. Exposed riverbanks, lakesides and agricultural lands are ideal habitats for Cannabis since they normally offer good sunlight, moist and well-drained soil and ample nutrients. When growing in arid locations with negligible soil nutrients, Cannabis develops minimal foliage and may mature and bear seed when only 20 centimeters (eight inches) tall. When planted in close stands on fertile soil, as in fiber hemp cultivation,plants do not branch but grow as tall, slender and straight stalks. If a plant is not crowded (e.g., when cultivated for seed or drug production) limbs bearing flowers will grow from small axial meristems (growing points) located at the nodes (intersections of the petioles or leaf stalks) along the main stalk.

In temperate environments, seeds are sown outdoors in the springtime and usually germinate in three to seven days. The first true leaves arise about ten centimeters (four inches) or less above the cotyledons (seed leaves) as a pair of oppositely oriented single leaflets. Subsequent leaves arise in opposing pairs, and a variously shaped leaf sequence develops with the second pair of leaves having three leaflets, the third five, and so on up to nine, 11 and even 13 leaflets. In some warm sunny climateswith favorable soil conditions Cannabis can grow taller by as much as 10 centimeters (four inches) a day. The rapidly elongating stalks produce a strong bast (bark) fiber used for cordage and woven textiles.

Cannabis exhibits a dual response to day length. During the first two or three months it responds to increasing day length with more vigorous vegetative growth, but later in the season Cannabis requires shorter autumn days to flower and complete its life-cycle. Cultivated Cannabis produces flowers when it is exposed to a day length (photoperiod) of 12 to 14 hours, which varies with the strain, and all varieties have an absolute requirement of a minimum number of short day lengths (or, more accurately, long nights) that will induce fertile flowering. Dark (night) cycles of 10 to 12 hours must be uninterrupted by light periods in order to induce flowering.

Cannabis is normally dioecious, which means that unisexual male or female flowers develop on separate plants, although co-sexual monoecious or hermaphrodite examples with both sexes produced on one plant occasionally do occur (see Chapter 9). Cannabis is anemophilous (wind-pollinated) and relies on air currents to carry pollen grains from male plants to female plants.

The first sign of flowering is the appearance of undifferentiated floral primordium along the main stalk at the nodes, one behind each of the stipules (leaf spurs), with one on each side of the base of each leaf's petiole. Before flowering, the sexes of Cannabis are indistinguishable except for general trends in growth habit-in less crowded conditions female plants tend to be shorter and produce more branches than male plants. When flowering is initiated, the male flower primordium can be identified by its curved, crab's claw shape. This is soon followed by the differentiation of dense clusters of round, pointed flower buds each having five radial segments. The female primordium can be identified by the enlargement of a tapered curved tubular bract (floral sheath). In both sexes, when flowering begins, the pattern of increasing numbers of leaflets reverses, and as flowering progresses, the number of leaflets per leaf decreases until only a small single leaflet appears below each pair of flowers. The phyllotaxy (leaf arrangement along the main stalk) also changes from opposite to alternate (and remains alternate) throughout flowering regardless of sexual type.

Development of branches bearing flowering organs varies greatly between males and females. Female plants are leafy to the top with many small leaflets subtending the flowers tightly crowded within erect compact clusters while male plants have only a few small leaves growing sparsely along the elongated flowering limbs. Male flowers hang from long, multi-branched, loose clusters formed of small (approximately five millimeters or 1/5 inch long) individual flower buds along an axis up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. Tightly clustered female flowers have two long white, yellowish or pinkish stigmas (female sexual organs receptive to pollen) protruding from each bract. The bract measures two to eight millimeters (1/12-1/3 inch) in length and adheres closely to the single ovary, completely surrounding it. The bract is covered with hundreds of glandular trichomes or plant hairs. These glands and their resinous secretion may protect the reproductive organs from excessive transpiration and may also repel pests (Clarke 1981). It is this aromatic resin that contains the psychoactive properties that have attracted human attention for millennia (Pollan 2001, also see Merlin 1972, Clarke 1981).

The differences in flowering patterns of male and female plants are expressed in many ways. Soon after pollen is shed, the male plant dies. The female plant may mature for up to five months after viable flowers are formed if little or no fertilization occurs and if it is not killed by frost, pests or disease. Compared with female plants, male plants show a more rapid increase in height as well as a more rapid decrease in leaf size and leaflet number approaching the single leaflets that accompany the flower clusters.

Many factors contribute to sex determination in flowering Cannabis plants. Under average conditions, with a normal day length of 12 to 14 hours, a Cannabis population will flower and produce approximately equal numbers of male and female plants, their sex determined by X and Y sexual inheritance (see below and Chapter 11). Monoecy (male and female flowers on the same plant) is an aberration used by breeders to create relatively stable monoecious hemp cultivars. Artificial selection under cultivation for sex-related characters such as female flower form and seed size may also result in abnormal sex ratios (see Chapters 2 and 9). However, under conditions of extreme stress, such as nutrient excess or deficiency, mutilation, extreme cold or radically altered light cycles, populations have been shown to depart greatly from the expected one-to-one male-to-female sex ratio, and cosexual individuals of many different phenotypes (observable traits) may arise. Environmental influences and genetic mechanisms affecting monoecious sexual differentiation in Cannabis are poorly understood.

Pollination of the female flower results in browning, shriveling and eventual loss of the paired stigmas and a swelling of the tubular bract inside which the fertilized ovule is enlarging. After approximately three to six weeks the seed matures and after some time is harvested and dispersed by humans or drops to the ground. This completes the normally four to six month life-cycle that may take as little as two months or as long as ten months, varying according to its biotype (group of organisms sharing the same genotype) or ecotype (group within a species sharing similar ecological adaptations) as well as ambient environmental conditions. Fresh and fully mature seeds approach 100% viability, but this decreases with age. For example, usually at least 50% of the seeds will germinate after three to five years of storage at room temperature, but without refrigeration, viability of seeds rarely exceeds 10 years (Clarke personal observation). On the other hand, uninterrupted freezing can preserve seeds for decades. We would expect viability over time to be much lower under most natural conditions.

The mature, achene fruit (seed) is partially surrounded by the bract. The calyx is reduced to a seed coat variously patterned in gray, brown or black. The seed is slightly elongated and compressed, measuring two to six millimeters (1/12-1/4 inch) in length and one to four millimeters (1/24-1/6 inch) in maximum diameter. Seed weights vary from 600 seeds per gram (16,800 seeds per ounce) in wild varieties to very large seeds comprising only 15 seeds per gram (420 seeds per ounce) in cultivated varieties. Larger seeds have long been used as edible grains. Cannabis seed provides an excellent nutritional source of easily digestible protein and essential fatty acids (EFAs, Deferne and Pate 1996, see Chapter 5). Now our focus turns to some of the more significant environmental aspects of Cannabis adaptation, growth and development.

Ecological requirements of Cannabis: Sunlight, temperature, water and soil

Relationships between an individual plant and its environment are complex, and for most plants, poorly understood. Environmental conditions, in association with the genotype, determine what the phenotype will be, i.e. the actual individual organism. We know that a number of different genetic and environmental variables affect the morphology and physiology of a Cannabis plant. Key environmental factors influencing growth and development of Cannabis plants include sunlight, temperature, moisture and soil condition.

Although Cannabis plants are thermophilic (warmth-loving) and heliotropic (sun-loving), they are more tolerant of shade than many crop plants and may survive in shaded areas, but their biomass and production of pollen and seed will be greatly reduced. Cannabis thrives best in exposed places where it does not have to compete with taller plants for available sunlight. Cannabis plants find a suitable habitat for their energy needs in open environments, such as scars in vegetation created by stream erosion, landslides and various forms of human landscape alteration. Disturbed soils are vital for proper establishment of feral populations, which are derived from escapes from cultivation and are comprised of self-sown, naturalized individuals. If seeds cannot find a crevice in the soil in which to sprout safely they will be eaten by birds or small mammals; if they do germinate atop the soil, they will dry out and die if their roots cannot find moist soil to penetrate.

Cannabis can become acclimated to high temperatures if sufficient water and nutrients are available, but it does not tolerate extreme cold. Seedlings and young plants are more frost resistant than plants nearing maturity. At higher latitudes, hemp is traditionally planted in late spring and harvested at the end of the short summer, avoiding the cold temperatures and short day length of the low sun, autumn.This climatic adaptation indicates that Cannabis is probably native to a northern temperate region where it can successfully complete its life cycle between spring and autumn without experiencing lethal frosts.

Impact of temperature variation is regulated by the transpiration rate of the plant, or how fast it loses moisture. In hot dry climates, Cannabis' high transpiration rate makes it very susceptible to wilting. However, the pubescence of glandular trichomes concentrated around the inflorescences, especially of female flowers, helps protect vital reproductive tissues from drying out, slowing water loss by producing a lower surface temperature and slowing transpiration.

Cannabis needs relatively small amounts of water to merely survive, except during germination and establishment. It flourishes on well-drained soils where ample supplies of water are available; on the other hand, stressful arid conditions or waterlogged soil can cause severe stunting and death. Cannabis matures and reproduces under a wide range of moisture regimes, especially in sub-humid to moderately arid conditions. However, water deficiencies negatively affect root proliferation, branch and leaf development, flower formation, seed production and resin secretion.

The Farmer's Cyclopedia (United States Department of Agriculture1914) briefly described the moisture requirements for fiber Cannabis cultivation in the temperate continental United States, providing us with insight into its natural adaptation:

"Hemp requires about 110 days for its growth. It should have a rainfall of at least 10 inches [25 centimeters] during this period. If the level of free water in the soil is within 8 to 10 feet [2.5-3.0 meters] from the surface, as is often the case in alluvial river-bottom lands, and the character of the soil is such that there is good capillary action to bring the water up, hemp will not suffer from drought, even should there be very little rainfall."

Cannabis plants display prominent adaptations to a variety of moisture conditions that relate closely to its differing uses. For example, the long fibrous cells in the stalk are much more durable and flexible when grown under mild humid conditions (Klages 1942). Where moisture stress is high, as in hot and dry environments, these same cells are less well developed and more brittle. This difference in stalk cell formation is an important consideration when the plant is cultivated specifically for strong and flexible fiber.Seed yield and quality are also lower in crops starved for water. Cannabis must have evolved in at least a seasonally moist and temperate region with warm, wet summers, such as areas with continental temperate or sub-tropical climates.

Cannabis plants also need well-drained soils. This is an important ecological requirement, as the roots are attacked by various fungi and cannot tolerate standing water. Cannabis is generally a tall plant growing in open environments, and the extensive root system needs a friable, but nutrient-rich soil to allow proper root growth, adequate drainage and efficient uptake of vital soil minerals. Under natural conditions Cannabis grows best in sandy and loamy alluvial (river valley) soils, and theseedaphic limitations help us determine its original geographical origin.

Cannabis origin and evolution studies

Humans have been attracted to Cannabis for a very long time, resulting in its wide distribution and multiple uses. Generally, we assume that the longer people use a plant, the greater the number of applications they will find for it. Cannabis has been used for millennia as a fiber, food and drug plant and ranks among the very oldest of economic plants. Many varieties of Cannabis have evolved through the pressures of natural selection within the diverse environments into which humans have introduced it, compounded by varying human selective pressures to provide hemp fiber, seed or resin. We should point out here that a controversy surrounds the taxonomy of Cannabis, which has been classified either as a monotypic genus, containing only a single species, Cannabis sativa, or a polytypic genus, including up to three species, Cannabis sativa (NLH and NLHA), Cannabis indica (NLD, NLDA, BLD and BLH) and possibly Cannabis ruderalis (PA) which is the taxonomy we support (see the Table of Acronyms and also Chapter 10for a more detailed discussion of Cannabis taxonomy). In any case, we suggest that there are three population types for Cannabis plants based on their natural origins and associations with humans: (1) those that are truly wild, (2) those that are cultivated and (3) those that grow spontaneously in areas associated with (and often disturbed by) humans, either derived from wild populations or from feral escapes from cultivation. We rely on the ecological requirements and reproductive strategies of Cannabis to offer clues as to which regions it inhabited prior to human contact. The present geographical distribution of truly wild and feralpopulations should also provide us with a good indication of the geographical region, or at least the ecological conditions, within which it evolved.

The first criterion when searching for the geographical origin of a cultivated plant is to determine the range of its truly wild growth (de Candolle 1967). At first this may seem straightforward, with relatively easy solutions resulting from a survey of herbarium specimens, biodiversity surveys and guidebooks to native floras. Cannabis, however, is particularly difficult to study in this respect as it was among the very early plants to be cultivated and spread by humans. Consequently it has escaped from cultivation repeatedly and has become naturalized (feral) in a wide range of environments throughout Eurasia and North America.Early Cannabis is characterized as a weedy camp follower, living on nutrient-rich dump heaps associated with human occupation and as such was pre-adapted to cultivation (Anderson 1967, Merlin 1972). Consequently, it is difficult for observers to accurately determine if a self-sown population of Cannabis is truly wild, and therefore indigenous to a region, or if it is growing spontaneously as a feral escape from ancient or recent cultivation.

Cannabis is particularly adept at naturalizing to a range of temperate and sub-tropical climates. The contemporary geographical range of Cannabis in all its biotypes (ecotypes, subspecies or varieties) is immense, and it grows spontaneously or cultivated, or both, in many regions. If a plant was recorded in a region and at a later date has vanished, it may be assumed that it was either not indigenous to that region and only introduced for a time, or was native but became extinct in that part of its original truly wild range. Conversely, because a plant maintains its spontaneous growth in an area does not necessarily mean that it is indigenous to that region; as an introduced species it might, in fact, have found a niche favorable for its continued proliferation and become naturalized and even invasive. For example, Cannabis is found today growing as a weed along streams, drainage ditches and farm fields across temperate continental areas of North America where it was introduced from Europe in the 17th century.

The diversity of Cannabis populations, both in terms of morphology and economic usage, varies from region to region. Areas of rich diversity are often interpreted as probable places of origin, or at least areas with lengthy periods of naturalization, since increased diversity can be a product of increased time during which to diversify. However, great diversity within a region is not always a sign of antiquity. Alien plants often evolve quite rapidly under a new set of natural and/or human cultural (artificial) selection pressures encountered in new habitats and can diversify extensively in a relatively short time.

The famous Swiss botanist Alphonse de Candolle (1967) postulated that agricultural crops in particular are subject to sudden and often radical evolutionary pressures of human selection for a particular plant product such as fiber, food or drug. A cultivated plant varies from its wild ancestor primarily in those economically or culturally valuable characteristics for which it is grown and selected. Feral escapes from cultivation will often vary in these same characteristics. Other characteristics tend to vary much less, as they are of less importance to the farmer, and thus are not as affected by careful scrutiny and selection. De Candolle's basic principles accounting for morphological changes in crop plants during domestication still hold true. However, physiological changes are probably of greater importance as plants adapt to new ecological conditions but are harder to recognize as they leave no direct fossil evidence.

As we have noted, Cannabis grows in a wide variety of areas across distant regions of the world and thrives in temperate continental climates. But because its distribution is often so closely associated with human settlements or trade routes, the original native range is obscured. Today it is widely believed that Cannabis is indigenous to some area in the broad region referred to as Central Asia (e.g., Vavilov 1931, Schultes 1969a/b, Merlin 1972, Damania 1998).

Central Asia: Vavilov and the origins of Cannabis

Parts of Central Asia (from the Caucasus to the Altai Mountains), South Asia (through the foothills of the Himalaya and Hindu Kush Mountains) and East Asia (in the mountainous Hengduan-Yungui region or along the Yangzi River and Huang He (Yellow River) of present-day China) have all been proposed as possible locations for the area of natural origin and/or primary domestication of Cannabis, and all these regions likely played a role in Cannabis evolution at one time or another. Exact geographical origin is unclear today because Cannabis' range shifted repeatedly during glacial-interglacial cycles covering hundreds of thousands of years. Perhaps soon after Holocene warming began about 12,000 years ago, or later during the advent of agriculture, it was spread across Eurasia by humans. In any case, we believe Central Asia offers by far the most plausible location for the primary origin and early evolution of Cannabis.

De Candolle (1967) stated that Cannabis occurs "wild" only south of the Caspian Sea, in Siberia near the Irtysch River, and in the Khirgiz Desert beyond Lake Baikal; he also suggested that it was first cultivated in southern Siberia. The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report (1893-94; see Kaplan 1969) identified a broad area encompassing the southern Himalayan foothills from Kashmir through Nepal and northeastern India as the region of spontaneous growth. Currently, the range of self-sown growth extends throughout Eastern Europe into the western and central regions of the former Soviet Union and across northern South and Southeast Asia. Cannabis grows spontaneously, as well, in its introduced ranges in parts of Africa south of the Sahara Desert and in parts of temperate, central North America (Hulten 1970)and as a weed in farm fields and disturbed niches across temperate China where it has escaped from cultivation (International Association of Agricultural Economists 1973).

Fieldwork and theories of the famous Russian botanist, Nicolai Ivanovich Vavilov (1931) added considerably to our understanding of crop plant origins. Vavilov studied phenotypic diversity (variation of observable traits) within Central Asian Cannabis, made many first-hand observations of the genus and usedit as an example of how to differentiate between a genuinely wild plant and a more recent escape from cultivation. Some of these characteristics of domestication are also found in wild cereals. His four criteria for identifying wild Cannabis were as follows:

1 - Germination of seed is slow and irregular,

2 - Seed coat [reduced perianth] persists as an outer husk around the seed, developing a camouflaging pattern,

3 - Seed has oil glands, and these attract various insects that remove and distribute them,

4 - Inflorescence shatters and distributes the seeds.

Vavilov and Bukinich (1929) reported that weedy Cannabis occurred commonly in irrigated parts of Afghanistan. More importantly, Vavilov (1931) also wrote about his 1929 visit to Chinese Turkestan to look for evidence of proposed origins of several wild and cultivated plants. Chinese Turkestan, in present-day Xinjiang province of China, lies north and northwest of the Himalayan Mountains and Qinghai-Xizang plateau, southwest of the Tian Shan Mountains and northeast of the Pamir Plateau; it is separated from the whole of China by the Taklimakan Desert to the east. Vavilov reported numerous thick stands of cultivated Cannabis in valleys of Chinese Turkestan and along the slopes south of the Tian Shan Mountains as well as its occurrence as a common weed throughout the Russian provinces of Irkutsk, Omsk and east to the Amur River. He concluded that the majority of the cultivated plants of the region were predominately imports from China to the east, or Afghanistan and Pakistan to the southwest. However, Vavilov considered Cannabis to be a native crop that originated in Central Asia.

Vavilov characterized wild and weedy Cannabis populations from Chinese Turkestan and northern Central Asia (1931) as "shattering forms with a horseshoe at the base of the fruit, with seeds of different size, up to the dimensions of the cultivated large-seeded forms." Wild hemp, according to Vavilov, was utilized only occasionally by local people for the manufacture of cordage, and he commented that the people of Central Asia extracted hemp fibers in a most primitive way and without retting-merely pulling the fibers from the dry stalks. Its utilization, however, was especially extensive in the Altai Mountains, and he surmised that it was there that wild hemp could have been a likely candidate for cultivation near settled populations. Vavilov observed what may have been a vestige of ancient hunter-gatherer (by then pastoralist) use of Cannabis, collecting wild hemp fiber in the mountains at the beginning of autumn before moving into lower valleys to avoid the cold winter. Similarly the Nu, an ethnic minority of part-time pastoralists living in Yunnan province, China, will sow hemp seeds along ridges in early summer while grazing their livestock and leave the crop unattended until they return in autumn to collect winter fodder, when they thresh the hemp seeds, strip off the bark and haul it back to town for processing, spinning and weaving (Clarke 1996, personal observation).

Vavilov and Bukinich (1929) generally characterized Afghan Cannabis as short in stature with short internodes and profuse branching from the first node. Eastern Afghan varieties were described as having small leaves with egg-shapedleaflets with their narrow ends toward the base, and extremely small dark-colored seeds that shattered and dispersed easily-characteristic of wild plants. Vavilov termed this wild Cannabis of eastern Afghanistan, which commonly had dark gray seeds with a marbled seed coat pattern, C. indica var. kafiristanica. Hillig and Mahlberg (2004) preserved this name and assigned it to wild and feral narrow-leaf drug ancestor (NLDA) biotypes. A second variety was described with a colorless seed coat and named C. indica variety afghanica. Hillig and Mahlberg (2004) also preserved this name to represent broad-leaf drug (BLD) biotypes, which they called wide-leaf drug biotypes (see also Chapter 10). Vavilov concluded that Afghan Cannabis varieties were entirely different from both wild and cultivated European and Asiatic Cannabis and therefore must be considered as varieties of C. indica Lam. Vavilov also pointed out that "C. sativa L." of the European type was cultivated for hashish in northern Afghanistan. We recognize this as the C. indica ssp. indica narrow-leaf drug (NLD) biotype based on its resemblance to European hemp (tall with narrow leaves) and its high THC content (Hillig and Mahlberg 2004).

Earlier, Russian botanist D. E. Janischevsky (1924) described and published descriptions of a new species, Cannabis ruderalis, growing wild in the Volga River region, Western Siberia and Central Asia. Hillig (2005a/b) recognized C. ruderalis as the putative ancestor (PA) of C. sativa (see Chapter 10). However present-day narrow-leaf hemp (NLH), narrow-leaf ancestor (NLHA) and PA populations overlap in range and traits and there is no clear differentiation between the taxa (Hillig and Mahlberg 2004). Janischevsky's work was part of a large-scale Soviet agricultural research program carried out under the direction of Vavilov during the 1920s and 1930s. Vavilov, with help from a team of experts, conducted an extensive series of expeditions to many continents, collecting information that contributed to identifying and understanding regions of species diversity, which Vavilov argued were the areas of species formation. De Candolle (1967, see above) first used this criterion, although he did not rely so heavily on it, and took a more comprehensive approach in his attempt to determine Cannabis origins, integrating a greater variety of sources than Vavilov.

Based on the work of Janischevsky and others, Vavilov (1949-1951) classified Cannabis as indigenous in three major "centers" of species formation described below. These "centers" we may categorize with hindsight as areas of hybridization induced by relatively intense, directional, artificial selection for desired crop characteristics as well as regions of trade and exchange rather than areas of evolutionary origin. Each of these factors can promote variation within a cultivated species. Under the category of fiber plants, Vavilov placed varieties of"Cannabis sativa"that produce large seeds, which we now consider broad-leaf hemp (BLH) biotypes after Hillig (2005a/b), in his "Chinese Center" of cultivated plants which includes the mountainous regions of central and western China and adjacent lowlands. Under the category of spice plants and stimulants, Vavilov listed"Cannabis indica," which we now consider to be a NLD biotype (Hillig 2005a/b), as originating in the so-called Indian Center, which includes all of the Indian sub-continent except northwestern India, Punjab and the Northwest Frontier (now a part of Pakistan). Finally, under the category of grain crops in his "Central Asiatic Center," Vavilov again listed "Cannabis indica," which we recognize as BLD biotypes, once again after Hillig (2005a/b). This comparatively small area includes northern Pakistan, all of Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as the western Tian Shan Mountains. We propose that these three centers were more likely areas of early agriculture and selection for specific uses (food, drug and fiber) following the early Holocene dispersal of Cannabis throughout Eurasia.

Although Vavilov's evidence for centers of agricultural crop diversity is convincing, his interpretations of the evidence are not as well accepted (e.g., see Merlin 1972). The use of phenotypic diversity as a key to plant origins has been thoroughly challenged in recent decades. For example, the idea of a "center of origin" might be intellectually satisfying, but it does not always follow as a logical conclusion from an analysis of the data. Although patterns of variation can supply valuable information about the genome of a crop, the question of agricultural and species origins, "is much too complex to be solved by such a simple device, and every scrap of evidence is needed from any source that might be even inferentially pertinent" (Harlan 1971). Phenotypic change upon dispersal away from the area of origin and into an introduced environment is common and has obviously occurred in the case of Cannabis. In addition, evolution, and thus variation, has been greatly accelerated by human selection during domestication.

David Harris (1967) emphasized the significance of crop hybridization with weeds in the evolution of species diversity and argued that a large number of weedy plants "are derivative from, rather than ancestral to, their associated crops, and consequently Vavilov's centers of maximum diversity are not necessarily centers of primary domestication." Edgar Anderson (1967) in his informative book exploring the antiquity of the ongoing important relationship between humans and plants suggested that Vavilov's areas of greater variability are places where flora previously separated came together and hybridized. Indeed the continued existence of primitive varieties of cultivated plants among traditional peoples, often found in remote areas (such as regions of temperate Eurasia where spontaneously growing Cannabis is found today), is probably a result of the basic conservatism of these isolated peoples. Thus Vavilov's ancient centers of species formation may very well be centers of early human cultural and agricultural survival rather than centers of origin. Actually, Vavilov (1931) suggested this possibility when he discussed the origin and distribution of Cannabis in Central Asia. At first, he asserted that Cannabis was most likely one of the few indigenous crops of the area:

"The autochthonic [indigenous] crops of Central Asia are few, but still such ones may be found. Of the field crops the first to be mentioned is hemp. All over [the] northern Tian Shan [Mountains], on its slopes, in the valleys to the north of it, wild growing hemp is of common occurrence. The waste lots of the town of Yarkand in Xinjiang province Chinaare covered with thick stands of hemp. It grows on the ridges of fields, not infrequently forming broad borders along the roads. In ravines, on forest skirts, on marshy ground, on waste land near the villages - weed hemp is the commonest of plants."

But then Vavilov reevaluated this assumption in the very same paperand noted that there is also good reason to believe that hemp is not endemic to Central Asia:

"We admit that the introduction of hemp, as of a wild growing plant characterized by a vast area stretching from the southeast of European USSR to the Pacific, has taken place simultaneously, as well as at different times, in different regions. It may as well have taken place in the agricultural districts of Central Asia."

The former Harvard University economic botanist Oakes Ames (1939) referred to scholars of his time who generally believed Cannabis "to be indigenous to the temperate parts of Asia near the Caspian sea, southern Siberia, the Kirghiz Desert and Persia." Ames' student, Richard Evans Schultes, who eventually took Ames' position at Harvard, stated that Cannabis is "...one of the most ancient of cultivated plants [and] is native probably to Central Asia" (Schultes 1969a/b).

Even though the arguments for hemp being endemic to Central Asia are not conclusive and, in fact, the origin and first use of C. sativa and C. indica may have occurred elsewhere, we suggest, with the same cautious reserve as Vavilov, that its natural origin was probably in Central Asia, possibly in the upland valleys of the Tian Shan or Altai Mountains and that very early, if not the first, cultural applications of Cannabis took place in this same general area during the Pleistocene. If Cannabis originated in Central Asia, it would have been ideally situated for migration east into eastern Asia and west into Europe as Pleistocene ice sheets advanced (see Chapter 11).

Cannabis and Vitis

Here it is relevant to briefly review the biological evolution and domestication of common grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) which was derived from the wild grapevine (Vitis vinifera subsp. silvestris). Evolution of this useful plant, under the processes of domestication, provides us with a model which has strong parallels to that of Cannabis. Vitis is similar to Cannabis in many respects, including its biology, reproduction, geographical origins and human influences that include long-distance seed dispersal followed by localized distribution of select individuals via asexual propagation. The grapevine is much farther down the vegetative domestication path than Cannabis, and therefore an understanding of grapevine history and its interaction with humans may help us predict the future of Cannabis evolution.

Vitis vinifera is the only member of the grape genus indigenous to Eurasia, possibly originating in the Near East (e.g., see Myles et al. 2010), with evolutionary origins dating back to around 65 million years ago (This et al. 2006). Following the last glacial maximum (LGM) about 18,000 years ago, grape populations began spreading northward from the Italian Peninsula and also westward from the Caucasus, resulting in some admixture in central Europe (Grassi et al. 2008). Presently, the truly wild form, V. vinifera subsp. silvestris, is relatively rare. It is occasionally found in environments from sea level up to 1000 meters (about 3300 feet) in elevation all the way from the southern Atlantic coast of Europe to the western Himalayas, and from Portugal in the west to Turkmenistan in the east, and the Rhine River valley in the north to Tunisia in the south, it grows as a vine on the surrounding tree canopy (This et al. 2006). The common, domesticated grapevine is one of the oldest fruit crops; it is cultivated extensively worldwide and is of great economic importance in its use for table fruit, raisins, sweet preserves, juice and wine. Its domestication, occurring between 9000 to 7500 years ago in the Near East, with the earliest archaeological evidence for this in northern Iran, Georgia and Turkey, was coincident with discovery of wine (This et al. 2006, also see McGovern 2003). Domestication brought many changes to grape's agronomic traits including greater fruit yield and sugar content. Truly wild grapevines are dioecious and wind-pollinated with bird mediated dispersal (similar to Cannabis) while domesticated grapevines are self-pollinating hermaphrodites (Grassi et al. 2008). How did this change come about?

Selection for higher yield, more sugar content and determinant maturation resulted in changes in berry color, berry and bunch size as well as a crucial change from dioecious to hermaphrodite sexuality; this eliminated the need to maintain male plants as pollinators and allowed the self fertilizing of mutant phenotypes. By 5500 to 5000 years ago early domesticates were spread by humans to Egypt and Lower Mesopotamia, followed by dispersal into several Mediterranean cultural realms, especially the Roman Empire, eventually reaching as far as China and Japan by 200 CE. In the process, humans shaped the diversity of grape cultivars extant today. Long-range transport was facilitated by seeds, new cultivars arose from sexual crosses between seedlings, and unique offspring with favorable characteristics were multiplied asexually, producing populations of identical clones (This et al. 2006). The domestication process presently followed in indoor drug Cannabis production is much the same-sexual crossing of pollen and seed parents to produce genetically diverse seeds which are transported to new environments, sown and grown with only a few select female plants reproduced asexually through rooted cuttings, thereby fixing the selected traits and allowing no further evolution.

As a result of centuries of exchange of genetic material (seeds and cuttings), it is difficult to determine the original home of widespread domesticated plants such as grape and hemp. Wild-growing grape populations are documented from many regions of Europe, but it is often unclear if they are truly undomesticated silvestris rather than vinifera cultivars growing as feral escapes from cultivation or possibly hybrids resulting from crosses between wild and cultivated plants (This et al. 2006). This situation must also be rectified in Cannabis before its evolutionary pathways can be deciphered. Are there any truly wild progenitor populations of Cannabis extant today?

Theories for South Asian origin of domesticated Cannabis

South Asia also presents another possible location for the origin and/or early domestication of Cannabis. Used in preparation of a ritual drink known as bhang, Cannabis was referred to in the ancient Indian Atharva Veda or "Science of Charms" (written sometime between 4000 and 3400 BP) as one of the "five kingdoms of herbs....which release us from anxiety" (Abel 1980, see also Booth 2003 and Chapter 6). Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), the "Father of Taxonomy," who first used the Latin binomial Cannabis sativa believed it to be native to India although he never collected or categorized specimens from this area. The great diversity of Cannabis varieties and usages in northern India and Nepal along the foothills of the Himalayas may indicate that this region was one of the first areas where Cannabis was extensively utilized, most likely for mind-altering purposes.

Sharma (1979, 1980) used phenotypic diversity as a major criterion in his conclusion that Cannabis originated in the valleys along the southern slope of the Himalayan Mountains from Kashmir through Nepal and Bhutan to Burma. He noted that wild (or nearly wild) populations occur in relatively unpopulated areas throughout the Himalayan region, and that significant variation can be measured between glandular trichome characteristics and epidermal (leaf surface) patterns of populations from differing climates. He did not, however, offer evidence that leaf surface traits are sufficient taxonomic criteria to determine races of Cannabis. Furthermore, like Vavilov, Sharma assumed that an area with the greatest diversity within a species is also the area in which the natural origin of the species occurred, rather than recognizing that such variation may be derivative instead of ancestral. In other words, if Cannabis was introduced to the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountain range and then intensively cultivated, the evolution of many varieties through artificial selection and hybridization by humans, in conjunction with substantial ecological variation along steep elevation gradients, may have occurred subsequent to its introduction. In addition, it should be remembered that perceptions of significant variation are often subjective. Whether it was Vavilov or Sharma who observed the "most" variation in spontaneously growing populations they investigated (in Central Asia and the Himalayan foothills respectively) is impossible to determine by studying their reports, and neither traveled in the study area of the other.

Although we have argued that Cannabis evolved naturally in Central Asia, if Cannabis did originate in northern South Asia, it most likely would have evolved along or relatively near streams in the Himalayan foothills. According to our Holocene dispersal scenario Cannabis arrived in this region early on as it expanded westward from the Hengduan Mountains and Yungui Plateau in southwestern China. Much later, traders could have carried Cannabis west to the Middle East. NLD varietieseventually spread westward by sea traders to the east coast of Africa and eastward through Burma into Southeast Asia. Following this scenario further, NLH would have evolved at higher latitudes from South Asian NLD varieties and spread farther north into southern Russia and then west into Europe. Some varieties could have migrated so far north that the summer season was too short to produce psychoactive levels of THC and evolved into fiber or seed varieties under human selection. Under this scenario, the PA, C. ruderalis, collected during the 20thcentury, in turn, would likely have evolved from C. sativa as this species spread farther north into the Central Asian region formerly known as Turkistan. However, there is little evidence to support this scenario and several reasons to doubt it.

The massive Himalayan and Hindu Kush Mountains, which have proven such a mighty barrier to plant and animal dispersals (including humans), lie between the origin regions proposed by Vavilov and Sharma. No examples of crop plant co-origin both north and south of the Himalaya and Hindu Kush Mountains have yet been reported (Simmonds 1976, Smartt and Simmonds 1995). In addition, genetic data does not reveal any links between South Asian NLD and European NLH populations except those resulting from more recent hybridization influenced by cultivation and breeding (Hillig 2005a/b). Although Cannabis now grows spontaneously throughout Eurasia, but not necessarily as a native plant, it seems unlikely to us that the genus originated both north and south of these mountain ranges. However, human migrations spread Cannabis throughout the Himalaya and Hindu Kush Mountains early in prehistory, probably starting sometime after the beginning of the Holocene, but possibly much earlier as anatomically modern humans (AMHs) first began their advance across Eurasia.

Models of early use and domestication (see Chapter 2), archaeological data (see Chapter 3) and historical records (see Chapters 4 through 8), in conjunction with evolutionary studies involving reproductive strategies and geography (see Chapter 11), lead us to conclude that Cannabis originated somewhere in Central Asia, rather than South or East Asia, although these regions may have served as glacial refugia where speciation occurred. China and India were both regions of early Cannabis evolution under domestication and foci for later diffusion, resulting in the broad diversity of phenotypes selected for various uses appearing across both East and South Asia. In the following discussion we evaluate the, at times, seemingly contradictory data and opinions in a temporal framework, then rectify many of the discrepancies and propose a hypothetical model for the early evolution of Cannabis.

Model for the early evolution of Cannabis

How long ago did Cannabis originate, and when did AMHs begin their association with these useful plants? We know that the earliest angiosperms (flowering plants) probably evolved more than 140 million years ago (e.g., see Soltis et al. 2008); early humans appear to have evolved into Homo sapiens in Africa about 200,000 years ago (e.g., University of Utah 2005, McDougall et al. 2005), and AMHs began extensively colonizing the Middle East during the Upper Paleolithic about 45,000 to 40,000 years ago reaching the steppes of Central Asia and highland southern East Asia by about 35,000 years ago (Wells 2002, Finlayson 2005). Migrations then radiated outward reaching Europe and South Asia by about 30,000 years ago and northeastern Asia by around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago (Meltzer 2009, Kunzig 2004, also see Wells 2002). The ice age of the LGM reached its peak about 21,000 to 18,000 years ago (Soffer and Gamble 1990, Otto-Bliesner et al. 2006) and the warming Holocene epoch began about 12,000 years ago (Roberts 1998). Early farming commenced relatively soon after the end of the Pleistocene and spread widely from a series of centers in the Old and New Worlds (Bellwood 2005). The timing and location of the earliest cultivation of Cannabis, as with most plants, may never be completely ascertained, and although we do not have archaeological evidence for very early cultivation of Cannabis in Central Asia (probably due to the lack of sufficient research in that general region), we do know that hemp was planted quite early on in China and most likely much later in Europe (see Chapter 3 for a full discussion of cultural spread and early farming of Cannabis, and Chapter 11 for a detailed look at climate change and glacial refugia).

When and where along this continuum did (1) family Cannabaceae appear, (2) Cannabis and Humulus diverge and (3) Cannabis' species evolve? When was the natural evolution of Cannabis first affected by human contact? How did the various subspecies, biotypes and ecotypes evolve? Answering these questions will allow us to advance our hypothesis for the early evolution of Cannabis. In the absence of pre-Holocene Cannabis seeds, limited ancient pollen (which may be hard to identify with certainty, see Chapter 3)and without fossils of a clearly identified Cannabis progenitor, it is difficult to determine with any accuracy when Cannabis evolved into the biotypes we see today. The survey of reproductive strategies presented above indicates that Cannabis, an herbaceous, sun-loving, short-day flowering annual, most likely evolved somewhere in temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and data from published research favors Eurasia, especially Central Asia, as its region of origin. Future DNA research and additional forms of molecular genetic investigation may help to more accurately determine the original home of Cannabis.

In the meantime, a review of evidence for the origin and prehistoric dispersal of Cannabis offered by the disciplines of palaeoclimatology, archaeology and taxonomy supports our model for the evolution of Cannabis. During the last interglacial period (approximately 135,000 to 110,000 years ago) the northern hemisphere, including the vast region of Eurasia, was relatively warm and humid; it is somewhere within this huge area that the ancestors of modern Cannabis and Humulus would have found environmental niches suitable for their evolution and proliferation. Around 50,000 years ago, AMHs began migrations northward out of Africa into middle Eurasia where their populations thrived and multiplied, eventually spreading both west and east to occupy vast areas of the earth's landmass (Kunzig 2004). This middle Eurasian cauldron of human evolutionary and cultural change lay within the natural range of Cannabis, and Pleistocene early humans would have been attracted to its readily apparent attributes.

Our assertion that Central Asia was both the original Pleistocene home and center for evolution and dispersal of Cannabis within the past 50,000 years is supported by our reconstruction of the climatic conditions across Eurasia during past geological periods. In order to further explore the human-Cannabis relationship, it is also important to determine in which regions early people may have lived nearby Cannabis populations. This can be ascertained by present-day human genome analysis combined with palaeoclimate reconstructions. Adams and Faure (1998), in their survey of plant and animal remains from various time periods and geographical locations, made correlations with the environmental requirements of extant species' relatives and produced a map series of reconstructed world vegetation. Gepts (2004) listed Cannabis as originating in the temperate steppes biome. Possible habitats conducive to the growth and spread of Cannabis during the early Holocene are based on ranges of vegetation zones supporting feral growth today. These coincide with three palaeoenvironmental classifications: (1) cool, temperate, deciduous broad-leaved and coniferous forests with a fairly open canopy, (2) semi-arid temperate woodland or scrub and (3) herbaceous forest steppe with clumps of trees in favorable locations. These vegetation zones existed at each time period reconstructed by Adams and Faure, but their ranges shifted between different time periods and they occurred in different geographical regions than today.

Archaeological sites provide physical evidence that bands of hunter-gatherers were living in these regions during the Upper Paleolithic (50,000 to 10,000 BP) many millennia before the LGM (e.g., see Madeyska 1990). As climate cooled leading up to the LGM and early humans migrated southward, they could have taken Cannabis seeds with them. After PA populations migrated southward and diverged geographically, two populations may have survived in two separate isolated locations and evolved into two new species-in temperate foothills of southern and southeastern European mountain ranges the putative hemp ancestor (PHA) and progenitor of modern C. sativa and in temperate mountain valleys of southern East Asia the putative drug ancestor (PDA) the progenitor of modern C. indica. After several millennia, as northern latitudes began to warm and the Holocene commenced, early humans could have returned northward carrying the progenitors of modern Cannabis taxa across much of Eurasia from their twin origins. Following the LGM, and throughout the early Holocene, the Magdalenian and Gravettian cultural complexes of central Europe expanded to the northeast onto the northern European plains and into the steppe regions of Eastern Europe, while the Solutrean cultural complex spread across Mediterranean southern Europe to the Black Sea (Bar-Yosef 1990). By this time, Paleolithic cultures were well distributed across modern-day China, Korea and Japan, and early Huang He and then Yangzi River farming cultures soon began to radiate across East Asia (Chen and Olsen 1990, also see Xue et al. 2006).

However, the divergence of C. sativa and C. indica likely occurred during much earlier glaciations and AMHs encountered Cannabis much later as it began to spread from its most recent refugia following the LGM. Speciation occurred during an earlier glacial period when advancing ice sheets pushed ancestral populations of plants and animals into more southerly refugia, C. sativa evolving in refugia in southeastern Europe and C. indica in southern East Asia, where their respective ranges were likely reduced in subsequent glacial periods leading up to the LGM. If the PA (C. ruderalis) exists today it must have survived at low population density in cryptic refugia at more northern latitudes than C. sativa or C. indica. During interglacial warming, Cannabis populations evolved naturally as they expanded northward recolonizing niches for which they were pre-adapted, only to be restricted to temperate refugia during a subsequent glacial cold period. During the LGM, European C. sativa NLH populations likely found refuge in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and on the Balkan Peninsula while Asian C. indica ssp. chinensis (broad-leaf hemp or BLH) populations survived within the Hengduan Mountain-Yungui Plateau region of present-day southwestern China and possibly also in coastal northeastern China, Korea and Japan; C. indica ssp. indica NLD populations may have survived in the Hengduan Mountain-Yungui Plateau region or along the Himalayan foothills, while C. indica ssp. afghanica BLD populations evolved in the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains. It is unlikely that any Cannabis populations survived the LGM outside of refugia, which may have been more in number than we can presently identify. After the LGM, Cannabis populations expanded once again, and their dispersal and introduction into newly disturbed niches was often aided by humans migrating from their temperate refugia. During rapid migration into new niches, the Cannabis genome narrowed from founder effects. It then diversified by ecological adaptation to each new niche. Meanwhile, populations remaining within upland refugia with varying topography likely remained genetically diverse due to individual adaption to differing microclimates within a small geographical range. Variation extant today at the subspecies and biotype levels results from relatively recent post-LGM expansion with human assistance and building upon a much more ancient evolutionary foundation. Human imposed geographical isolation and selection have proved sufficient to preserve species integrity while increasing biotype diversity.

Putative progenitor populations (PA, PHA and PDA) are the "missing links" in our model of early evolution and are very likely extinct. Due to the high probability of intercrossing with neighboring feral or cultivated populations in more recent times, it is unlikely that any genetically pure ancestral populations survive today even in remote regions of Central Asia. It is even more unlikely that there would be any relict populations remaining in the regions where the hypothetical progenitor populations of hemp and drug Cannabis (PHA and PDA) originated, as Cannabis has been cultivated for at least two millennia across Europe and much longer in East Asia (see Chapters 3 through 8). If specimens tentatively identified by Hillig (2005a/b) and others as C. ruderalis do not represent relict populations of the original PA, then how did they arise and how do they differ genetically from other extant taxa? It seems likely to us that Central Asian populations studied during the 20th century and perceived as putative ancestors were products of mixed heritage (PA introgressed with NLHA and NLH) combined with lack of human selection and ecological adaptation to marginal environments. Without human selection, Cannabis has a tendency to revert to atavistic (ancient ancestral) genetic combinations quite rapidly and atavistic traits would be expressed frequently, especially when populations are genetically isolated and subjected to increased inbreeding. Naturally growing and seemingly wild populations that could be interpreted as descendants of putative ancestors have also been observed in Kashmir (Watson personal communication 1978) as well as Shandong and Yunnan provinces in China, lowland Nepal and northeastern India (Clarke personal observations 1993, 1995, 2006, 2009 respectively).

By 8000 years ago, large tracts of northern Eurasia had a suitable temperate climate for supporting climax broad-leaf and coniferous woodland vegetation cover and allowing Cannabis to proliferate. We assume that humans spread Cannabis easily via their hunting and gathering activities and eventually introduced it into their new agricultural settlements where and when these became established during the Holocene. Responding to a constantly changing natural environment and early unconscious human selective pressures, the NLH ancestor (NLHA) slowly evolved through intermediate populations into the C. sativa interbreeding complex (NLHA-NLH) extant today in Europe and Western Asia. Uniformity of surrounding climate and vegetation and restricted latitudinal spread within a relatively homogenous cultural setting, may account for lack of genetic diversity within C. sativa. The present-day range of C. sativa NLH includes Europe and North America, yet is relatively small in comparison to the world-wide ranges of C. indica biotypes BLH, BLD and NLD (see Table of Acronyms).

In response to entirely different sets of natural and human selective pressures, PDAs also adapted and evolved as they migrated into regions that were both climatically and culturally diverse, became isolated and were exposed to a far wider range of selective pressures than PHAs. In response, C. indica evolved into three biotypes or subspecies. BLH landraces likely evolved in China very early on, in close association with the expansion of Chinese agriculture, and relatively soon spread to Korea and Japan where additional BLH populations may already have been growing if they survived the LGM; escaped feral populations can presently be found in several regions across China, Korea and on Hokkaido Island, Japan. Although the closest relatives of BLH are the highly psychoactive BLD and NLD biotypes, East Asian hemp varieties are relatively low in THC. Since there was little traditional psychoactive use following the rise of Confucianism, BLH landraces were only rarely selected for drug content in the past two millennia. BLD varieties evolved under extremely arid conditions in an isolated mountain range within present-day Afghanistan, were eventually used for producing hashish and are the most morphologically distinct of the Cannabis taxa (see Chapter 10). NLD biotypes are also high in drug content. Along the Himalayan foothills in northern South Asia NLDA populations introgress with NLD cultivars to form an interbreeding NLDA-NLD complex similar to that of the NLHA-NLH complex of Europe and western Asia. According to our taxonomy (following Hillig 2004a/b, 2005a/b), C. indica cultivars are the most geographically widespread and most widely utilized biotypes today, growing on all continents and used for recreational and medicinal drugs as well as fiber and seed production while C. sativa cultivars are presently grown only for fiber and seed on limited acreage in Europe and North America.

Summary and conclusions

Glacial ice sheets advanced and retreated many times during the earth's history, and species have either moved or perished as they advanced; survivors recolonizing their previous homelands as the climate warmed and glaciers retreated. During Quaternary glaciations Cannabis'range would have been highly restricted to two or more isolated refugia (located in distant parts of southern Eurasia or possibly within smaller cryptic refugia at more northern latitudes) with climatic conditions similar to those favored by Cannabis today. Isolation of populations during times of glacial advance could have led to speciation within genus Cannabis. There were several series of Quaternary glaciations during the past two million years as well as many Tertiary glaciations before them, and Cannabis would have moved southward during times of cold and back northward during warm periods several times during its evolution; adaptive radiation during the Holocene is only the most recent cycle of expansion. Today, possible refugia are represented by favorable microclimates where Cannabis survived to later disperse and re-enlarge its range. It is more difficult to determine both areas of origin or endemism and potential refugia in organisms such as Cannabis with widespread ecological ranges and partial fossil records, and even more difficult to determine in plants with ancient human relationships.

Feral Cannabis populations are found today growing in temperate climates at northern latitudes. These are usually characterized as warm continental regions with spring and early summer rains, followed by a dry cool autumn and accompanied by the widely fluctuating day length (photoperiod) afforded by more northern latitudes; indeed, feral Cannabis only flourishes in this narrow climate niche. The vegetation cover most favorable for Cannabis is temperate-climate upland open woodland growing in valleys with alluvial soil deposits and slopes for drainage with sufficient sunlight and summer rainfall. Suitable regions would have had moist temperate conditions during glaciations without being so near the equator as to lose short-day flowering response and cold hardiness. Humans created many favorable open habitats, but Cannabis thrived in more or less these same conditions long before we entered the scene.

Equally important in determining Cannabis'prehistoric range are the conditions itdoes not tolerate such as extreme heat, cold, aridity or humidity, heavy or waterlogged soils and permafrost. Many presently warm and humid tropical equatorial regions were arid deserts during the LGM. In addition, Cannabis could not survive too much humidity; today Cannabis does not become feral in subtropical monsoon regions. During glacial periods Cannabis'range would not have included semi-tropical and tropical regions as this is not where natural wild or feral Cannabis populationsflourish today. Mediterranean climates with cool wet winters and hot dry summers are also not conducive to the natural growth of Cannabis because it requires summer rain. Some Cannabis populations became extinct while some survived in suitable microclimates providing additional chances for isolated populations to evolve independently within their refugial ranges. Topography within large southern montane refugia is complex and local microclimates abound. Each river valley offered isolation from neighboring populations and a unique suite of selective pressures, an ideal setting for genetic divergence and speciation. Several regions of ancient Eurasia presented likely locations for Pleistocene Cannabis refugia. We propose that such favorable LGM refugia for C. sativa could have existed within the Caucasus Mountains with another for C. indica in the Hengduan Mountains and Yungui Plateau and possibly also along the Himalayan foothills as well as on the Shandong and Korean Peninsulas and the Japan Archipelago.

Most plant species have very limited distributions, so why and how has Cannabis become so widespread and abundant? Animals including humans are more mobile than plants and can migrate away from advancing ice sheets. Plant populations are much more sedentary moving no farther spatially than their propagules. During glacial advances plant populations do not move so much as just die off as the climate becomes less favorable and their range becomes more restricted. During times of glacial advance, ice sheets would expand southwards encroaching upon the expanded range of Cannabis. In populations adapting to changes nearest the ice sheets, female plants would drop their seeds nearby at the end of the season, but male plants could spread their adaptive success via windblown pollen deep into the extant population. It is only during interglacial warming that Cannabis would have expanded from its reduced refugial range. Today Cannabis is widely distributed around the world largely as a consequence of the human-Cannabis relationship but may also have been endemic in several regions of Eurasia prior to human contact. Some plants are aided in long distance transport of their seed by migrating birds and hoofed mammals, which also could have played a part in Cannabis'earlydistributional changes although humans have certainly had the greatest effect since the Holocene began. However, because Cannabis seed is not regularly disseminated by animal, water or wind vectors and most seeds remain near the seed plant, the post-glacial range of Cannabis would have expanded much more slowly without the assistance of humans.

Cannabis likely originated millions of years ago in northern Eurasia andmoved ahead of climate changes, migrating (likely without human assistance) southward during glaciations to escape unfavorable conditions. During a glacial maximum, Cannabis populations were forced into refugia in southern Europe and southwestern East Asia, possibly leading to speciation events giving rise to European C. sativa and Asian C. indica. During this time, C. indica evolved enhanced biosynthetic capacity to produce THC. Early humans utilized both C. sativa and C. indica for fiber and seed, but only C. indica has a history of drug use. Cannabis thrived during the early Holocene as the earth warmed, and with human assistance its range expanded around the world. Range expansion continues, although genetic diversity has decreased, also as a result of human influence. Self-sowing feral Cannabis presently occupies a restricted ecological belt extending around the world.

Cannabis' annual life cycle and its ecological requirements for open environments, ample water and well-drained soils favor origin in moist riverside environments. Studies of the reproductive strategies of Cannabis indicate probable evolution in northern temperate latitudes. Early researchers such as de Candolle (1967, originally published in 1882) and Vavilov (1931) favored Central Asia as the likely region of origin, in which case, Cannabis was advantageously positioned for dispersal throughout Europe, southern Asia and the Far East. More recent studies indicate that if primordial Cannabis naturally evolved in Central Asia prior to contact with humans, it must have moved to warmer, more southern latitudes several times before, and again during, the LGM, possibly carried by early human migrants and then was redistributed throughout Eurasia by humans migrating northward as climate warmed during the Holocene. Cannabis was pre-adapted for successful growth upon its return from southern refugia as it originated farther north many millennia earlier.Present-day C. ruderalis,the putative ancestor of extant Cannabis taxa, grows throughout Central Asia and most likely represents a degenerate, inbred and unselected hybrid blend of various Cannabis gene pools that survived as feral escapes, rather than direct descendants of the now long extinct ancestral population in its original home.

Edited by namkha
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where did Hillig do that? you've misread him I think... Garhwal is in the Western Himalaya, Northwest India 30N

[edited by Namkha because there was a loads of dense text, even by my standards - so I've cut out stuff that didn't look relevant]

Not sure, I got it from Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)

Karl W. Hillig

Cannabis cultivated for fiber and/or achenes

(i.e., ‘seeds’) is herein referred to as ‘hemp.’ Cannabis

breeders distinguish eastern Asian hemp from the

common hemp of Europe (Bo´csa and Karus 1998;

de Meijer 1999).

Lamarck (1785) determined that Cannabis strains

from India are distinct from the common hemp

of Europe, and named the new species C. indica

Lam. Distinguishing characteristics include more

branching, a thinner cortex, narrower leaflets, and

the general ability of C. indica to induce a state of

inebriation. Opinions differ whether Lamarck adequately

differentiated C. indica from C. sativa, but

they are both validly published species. Other species

of Cannabis have been proposed (reviewed in

Schultes et al. 1974; and Small and Cronquist 1976),

including C. chinensis Delile, and C. ruderalis

Janisch. Vavilov (1926) considered C. ruderalis to

be synonymous with his own concept of C. sativa

L. var. spontanea Vav. He later recognized wild

Cannabis populations in Afghanistan to be distinct

from C. sativa var. spontanea, and named the

new taxon C. indica Lam. var. kafiristanica Vav.

(Vavilov and Bukinich 1929).


accessions from Afghanistan were obtained from

Cannabis breeders in Holland, and at least three

of these strains (Af-4, Af-5, Af-9) are inbred

(Anonymous 1989). Six Asian accessions were collected

from extant populations, including a drug

landrace from Pakistan (Pk-1), three feral populations

from India (In-2, In-3, In-5), and fiber

landraces from India (In-4) and China (Ch-4).

Accession Ch-4 was collected in Shandong

Province from seed propagated on the island of

Hunan (Clarke 1995).

Table 1. Passport data for the 157 Cannabis accessions examined.

Origin ID n Region/name Use Parallel ID Source Taxon

Afghanistan Af-1 10 Drug 891383b CPRO C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-2 12 Ghazni Drug 91-100c AMSRS C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-3 15 ‘Afghani No. 1’ Drug AMSRS C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-4 10 ‘G13’ Drug SB C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-5 10 ‘Hash Plant’ Drug 921199b SB C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-6 9 ‘Heavily High’ Drug M 40 SSSC C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-7 10 Mazar i Sharif Drug 921200b SB C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-8 10 Drug BPDIN C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-9 10 ‘N. Lights 1’ Drug SB C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Afghanistan Af-10 10 Afghan mix Drug SB C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Armenia Ar-1 8 Hemp VIR 472d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Armenia Ar-2 9 Hemp VIR 482d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Belorus Br-1 10 Hemp VIR 296d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-1 10 ‘Lovrin 110’ Hemp 883173b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-2 10 Silistrenski Hemp 901107b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-3 9 Hemp VIR 73d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-4 7 Hemp VIR 335d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-5 4 Hemp VIR 369d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Bulgaria Bg-6 4 Hemp VIR 370d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Cambodia Cm-1 10 Drug No. 154a SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

China Ch-1 10 Hemp 901078b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

China Ch-2 12 Rud. No. 338a, 921201b NJBG C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. spo.k

China Ch-3 10 Hemp NJBG C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

China Ch-4 10 Shandong Hemp 921198b AMSRS C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

China Ch-5 10 ‘Shun-Da’ Hemp 921051b, VIR 175d CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

China Ch-6 12 ‘Tin-Yan’ Hemp 883249b, VIR 184d CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

China Ch-7 15 ‘Shan-Va’ Hemp 921218b, VIR 185d VIR C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Colombia Cl-1 10 Drug BPDIN C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Colombia Cl-2 10 Drug BPDIN C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Gambia Gm-1 10 Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Germany Gr-1 10 var. spontanea Rud. 883141b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

Hungary Hn-1 10 ‘Szegedi-9’ Hemp 883044b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Hungary Hn-2 10 Nyiregyha´za´ i Hemp 883050b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Hungary Hn-3 10 Leveleki Hemp 883051b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Hungary Hn-4 10 Kisszekeresi Hemp 883058b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Hungary Hn-5 10 var. spontanea Rud. 883113b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

Hungary Hn-6 10 var. spontanea Rud. 883114b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

Hungary Hn-7 12 C. ruderalis Rud. No. 316f HBIPM C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

Hungary Hn-8 8 Rud. No. 317f HBIPM C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

Hungary Hn-9 10 C. ruderalis Rud. No. 1247f HBIPM C. sat.i,j; sat. spo.k

India In-1 12 Munar, Kerala Drug 91-194c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

India In-2 12 Almora Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

India In-3 12 Delhi Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

India In-4 12 Pauri, Garhwal Hemp 921207b INDBS C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

India In-5 12 Saharanpur Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

Italy It-1 10 ‘Kompolti’ Hemp 883048b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-2 10 Hemp MDCC C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-3 12 Hemp VIR 106d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-4 10 Hemp 921050b, VIR 112d CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-5 8 Turin Hemp VIR 195d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-6 7 Napoletana Hemp VIR 278d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-7 4 Distr. di Fatza Hemp VIR 280d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-8 9 Carmagnola Hemp VIR 282d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Italy It-9 4 Hemp VIR 462d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Jamaica Jm-1 10 Drug No. 66a, 921209b SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Japan Jp-1 14 No. 152a, 921208b SMALL C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Japan Jp-2 18 Kozuhara zairai Hemp 883213b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Kazakhstan Kz-1 9 Hemp VIR 468d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Kazakhstan Kz-2 9 Hemp VIR 469d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k


Table 1. Continued.

Origin ID n Region/name Use Parallel ID Source Taxon

Kazakhstan Kz-3 8 Hemp VIR 470d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Kazakhstan Kz-4 6 Alma Ata Hemp VIR 484d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Lesotho Ls-1 10 Drug SAP C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Mexico Mx-1 12 Drug No. 24a, 921231b SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Mexico Mx-2 8 Drug No. 41a SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Mexico Mx-3 12 Drug No. 289a, 921232b SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Mexico Mx-4 10 Drug 921230b SHOY C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Moldavia Ml-1 5 Hemp VIR 116d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Nepal Np-1 10 Kalopani Rud. 891192b CPRO C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

Nepal Np-2 10 Dana Hemp 891193b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Nepal Np-3 10 Rud. 921233b SB C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

Nigeria Ng-1 10 Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Pakistan Pk-1 30 NW Frontier Drug PAKI C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Poland Pl-1 7 C.s. ‘gigantea’ Hemp VIR 443d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Poland Pl-2 10 Hemp VIR 474d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Poland Pl-3 10 Hemp VIR 475d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Poland Pl-4 8 Hemp VIR 476d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Romania Rm-1 10 ssp. ruderalis Rud. 883154b CPRO C. sativai,j; sat. spo.k

Romania Rm-2 10 ssp. ruderalis Rud. 901047b CPRO C. sativai,j; sat. spo.k

Romania Rm-3 10 Hemp VIR 374d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-1 6 Khakass Rud. N 38g CSBG C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Russia Rs-2 5 Novosibirsk Rud. N 77g CSBG C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Russia Rs-3 10 Altai Rud. N 79g CSBG C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Russia Rs-4 10 Gorno-Altay Rud. N 82g CSBG C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Russia Rs-5 4 Khakass Rud. N 102g CSBG C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Russia Rs-6 10 Dalnevostochnaya Hemp 921214b, VIR 58d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-7 7 Altaiskaya Hemp VIR 90d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-8 10 Altaiskaya Hemp 883248b, VIR 100d CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-9 10 Altaiskaya Hemp VIR 107d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-10 7 Altaiskaya Hemp VIR 141d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-11 12 Novosibirskaya Hemp 921217b, VIR 142d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-12 8 Ermakovskaya Hemp VIR 310d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-13 10 Dalnevostochnaya Hemp VIR 387d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-14 6 Trubchevskaya Hemp VIR 41d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-15 12 Orlovskaya Hemp 883247b, VIR 48d CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-16 8 Toguchinskaya Hemp VIR 77d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-17 7 Tyumenskaya Hemp VIR 85d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-18 4 Smolenskaya Hemp VIR 110d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-19 8 Permskaya Hemp VIR 140d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-20 7 Maryiskaya Hemp VIR 151d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-21 7 Tatarskaya Hemp VIR 156d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-22 12 Kirovskaya Hemp VIR 313d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-23 10 Kirovskaya Hemp 883289b, VIR 315d CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-24 10 Maryiskaya Hemp 891327b, VIR 349d CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-25 14 Chuvashskaya Hemp 921223b, VIR 354d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-26 14 Maryiskaya Hemp 921224b, VIR 356d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-27 10 Arkhonskaya Hemp 921226b, VIR 405d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Russia Rs-28 8 Tyumenskaya Hemp VIR 528d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Sierra Leone SL-1 10 Drug No. 63a, 921236b SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Spain Sp-1 10 Hemp 880973b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Spain Sp-2 10 Hemp 891240b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Spain Sp-3 10 Hemp 921213b, VIR 57d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Spain Sp-4 6 Hemp VIR 163d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

South Africa SA-1 12 Pietersburg Drug SAP C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

South Africa SA-2 10 Transkei Drug SAP C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

South Africa SA-3 4 Transkei Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

South Africa SA-4 10 Drug 921235b DNHSA C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

South Korea SK-1 12 Andong Hemp 901161b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Continued on next page


Table 1. Continued.

Origin ID n Region/name Use Parallel ID Source Taxon

South Korea SK-2 10 Bonghwa Hemp 901162b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

South Korea SK-3 10 Milyang Hemp 901163b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

South Korea SK-4 12 Chonnamjong Hemp RDASK C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

South Korea SK-5 10 Kangwansong Hemp IT.180388e RDASK C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

South Korea SK-6 12 Sunchangsong Hemp IT.180384e RDASK C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

South Korea SK-7 12 Sungjusong Hemp IT.180386e RDASK C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Swaziland Sw-1 12 Drug SAP C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Syria Sy-1 10 Hemp VIR 397d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Thailand Th-1 12 Drug No. 10a SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-2 10 Sakon Nokhon Drug 91-170c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-3 12 Drug 91-171c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-4 8 Drug 91-172.8c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-5 10 Drug 92-176c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-6 10 Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-7 10 Meao, THCVA Hemp 921237b SHOY C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-1 10 Tokumu Hemp 883272b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-2 12 Hemp 891088b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-3 10 Hemp 891090b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-4 10 Hemp 891093b CPRO C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-5 10 Kurdistan Hemp RBREN C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-6 7 Hemp VIR 52d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-7 10 Hemp VIR 54d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-8 7 Hemp VIR 464d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Turkey Tk-9 9 Hemp VIR 465d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Uganda Ug-1 10 Drug No. 76a SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Uganda Ug-2 10 Mbale district Drug 921239b KWNDA C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Ukraine Uk-1 9 Novgorod-Severskaya Hemp VIR 37d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Ukraine Uk-2 12 Transcarpathian Hemp 921215b, VIR 125d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Ukraine Uk-3 12 Transcarpathian Hemp 921216b, VIR 126d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Ukraine Uk-4 4 Transcarpathian Hemp VIR 128d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Ukraine Uk-5 7 Transcarpathian Hemp VIR 130d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Ukraine Uk-6 12 Hemp 921219b, VIR 205d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Uzbekistan Uz-1 5 Kokand Rud. AMSRS C. sat.i; C. rud.j; sat. spo.k

Yugoslavia Yg-1 12 Domaca local Hemp 921210b, VIR 11d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Yugoslavia Yg-2 5 Nisca Hemp VIR 19d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Yugoslavia Yg-3 10 Hemp 921211b, VIR 22d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Yugoslavia Yg-4 10 Hemp 921212b, VIR 29d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Yugoslavia Yg-5 7 Leskovacha Hemp VIR 377d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Yugoslavia Yg-6 10 Novosadska Hemp VIR 442d VIR C. sat.i,j; sat. sat.k

Zimbabwe Zm-1 10 Drug No. 235a, 921234b SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Origin – country of origin; ID – accession code; n – approximate number of plants sampled for genetic analysis (varies with enzyme); Region/

Name – region where achenes were originally collected (if known)/name (if a commercial cultivar); Use – a priori assignment to plant-use group:

Drug, Hemp, or Rud. ¼ Ruderal (wild or naturalized); Parallel ID – parallel accession codes: aSMALL; bCPRO; cAMSRS; dVIR; eRDASK;


Source: AMSRS – HortaPharm B.V., Amsterdam, Holland; BPDIN – Bloomington Police Department, Bloomington, IN, USA; CPRO –

Centre for Plant Breeding and Reproduction Research, Wageningen, Holland; CSBG – Central Siberian Botanical Garden, Novosibirsk,

Russia; DNHSA – Department of National Health, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa; HBIPM – Hortus Botanicus, Institui Plantarum

Medicinalium, Budakalasz, Hungary; HBP – Hortus Botanicus Pekinensis, Instituti Botanici Academiae Sinicae, Beijing, China; INDBS –

Botanical Survey of India, Dehra Dun, India; KWNDA – Kawanda Research Station, Kampala, Uganda; MDCC – Museo Della Civilta

Contadina, Bologna, Italy; NBPGR – National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, India; NJBG – Nanjing Botanical Garden,

Mem. Sun Yat-Sen, Jiangsu, China; PAKI – Pakistan Narcotics Control, Islamabad, Pakistan; RBREN – Dr. Rudolph Brenneisen, Institute of

Pharmacy, Berne, Switzerland; RDASK – Rural Development Administration, Suwon, South Korea; SAP – Forensic Science Laboratory,

Pretoria, Republic of South Africa; SB – The Seed Bank, Ooy, Holland (commercial seed company); SHOY – Dr Y. Shoyama, Faculty of

Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Japan; SMALL – Dr E. Small, Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; SSSC – Super

Sativa Seed Club, Amsterdam, Holland (commercial seed company); VIR – N.I. Vavilov All-Union Institute of Plant Industry, St. Petersburg,


Taxon: a priori assignment of accessions to taxonomic concepts of hDelile; iLamarck; jSchultes et al. and Anderson; kSmall and Cronquist. Taxon

abbreviations: C. chi. –C. chinensis; C. ind. –C. indica; C. sat. –C. sativa; C. rud. –C. ruderalis; sat. sat. – C. sativa subsp. sativa var. sativa;

sat. spo. –C. sativa subsp. sativa var. spontanea; ind. ind. –C. sativa subsp. indica var. indica; ind. kaf. –C. sativa subsp. indica var. kafiristanica.


Edited by namkha
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Garhwal is in the Western Himalaya, Northwest India 30N

But that's very close to the Chinese border and also by the old silk routes. I mean the hemp must have come from somewhere, there are two genepools that are exlusively used for hemp, East Asian and European/Siberian. I would think north Indian strains are likely to be partly descendant from either one. Indo Europeans would have carried the Siberian genes, while East Asians would grow the Chinese ones. There have been migrations from both directions to India/Pakistan/Nepal. Some Nepalese groups originate in Yunnan as well.

An interesting difference between north west India and Nepal is the lack of cbd strains in the latter. Nepal is more east Asian influenced, isn't it?

Do Tibetans traditionally grow hemp? Would the climate even allow that?

Edited by Dr.Pseudo

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[edited 08/2013 - I think the issue is just that Hillig has given all the possible taxonomies used by various people here]

Cannabis cultivated for fiber and/or achenes
(i.e., ‘seeds’) is herein referred to as ‘hemp.’ Cannabis
breeders distinguish eastern Asian hemp from the
common hemp of Europe (Bo´csa and Karus 1998;
de Meijer 1999).

Six Asian accessions were collected
from extant populations, including a drug
landrace from Pakistan (Pk-1), three feral populations
from India (In-2, In-3, In-5), and fiber
landraces from India (In-4) and China (Ch-4).
Accession Ch-4 was collected in Shandong
Province from seed propagated on the island of
Hunan (Clarke 1995).

India In-1 12 Munar, Kerala Drug 91-194c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
India In-2 12 Almora Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k
India In-3 12 Delhi Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k
India In-4 12 Pauri, Garhwal Hemp 921207b INDBS C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k
India In-5 12 Saharanpur Rud. NBPGR C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k

Nepal Np-1 10 Kalopani Rud. 891192b CPRO C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k
Nepal Np-2 10 Dana Hemp 891193b CPRO C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k
Nepal Np-3 10 Rud. 921233b SB C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. kaf.k
Nigeria Ng-1 10 Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

Pakistan Pk-1 30 NW Frontier Drug PAKI C. ind.j; ind. ind.k

Thailand Th-1 12 Drug No. 10a SMALL C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-2 10 Sakon Nokhon Drug 91-170c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-3 12 Drug 91-171c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-4 8 Drug 91-172.8c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-5 10 Drug 92-176c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-6 10 Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k
Thailand Th-7 10 Meao, THCVA Hemp 921237b SHOY C. chi.h; C. sat.j; sat. sat.k

hi Dr. Pseudo,

interesting stuff

been through and highlighted what Hillig has down as two other chinensis hemp plants - one from Thailand, one from Nepal

the Thai hemp plant I would definitely accept is a chinensis... northern Thailand, northern Laos, and northern Burma all have Chinese hemp growing... Tai and other ethnic groups from the Southeast Asian Massif have been migrating south into Thailand, Laos, Burma etc. and bringing cannabis with them for hundreds of years

a probable point of origin for Cannabis indica (glacial refuge) lies in Yunnan and Guizhou (poss. Sichuan) just to the north of the Tai regions and Chinese hemp is cultivated extensively throughout

but looking at the listing you will see that the notes refer to the Thai hemp as 'Meao'... when you see something like this it shows the limited knowledge of the region the collector has... in this case the strain was collected by

SHOY – Dr Y. Shoyama, Faculty of
Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Japan

'Meao' most likely refers to Hmong people... unlike in China, in Thailand, Laos etc. the term 'Meao' is considered highly insulting... it is an exonym, i.e. a name only used by lowland Thai and Lao outsiders to refer to these highland groups... Hmong would never call themselves 'Meao', as the basic meaning is 'thief, bandit, or robber'... other highland groups referred to by Thai and Lao lowlanders as Meao = Akha, Yao, Phu Noi, Lanten etc. ...most of them will cultivate Chinese hemp strains

as for the alleged chinensis hemp strains in Nepal and India, I honestly think Hillig has simply got this wrong (his decision to adopt the 'kafiristanica' name suggests he doesn't have a great grasp of Asia)--- if you have a look at the Clarke Chapter 1 above, this looks like it will have a better grasp of the type of cannabis grown in the high Himalaya

if you look at the other Indian accessions - Almora is a main town in Kumaon, surrounded by extensive cannabis cultivation, and with feral plants everywhere... the feral plants from Almora are described as ruderal C. indica; as are the plains plants from Delhi, and from Saharanpur also on the plains to the south of the Himalaya

basically a typical Himalayan farmhouse plant is a multipurpose plant --- grown for fibre, seeds, and charas - types that RSC has offered which fall squarely group in this category are Pahari Farmhouse, Kumaoni and Nepalese White Mountain

Kumaon and Garhwal are the two halves of Uttarakhand... both Kumaon and Garhwal have been exporting charas to the Indian plains for centuries, as you will see in British records... there was also a small two way trade in charas to and from Tibet

the Garhwali Shiva comes from a valley which was famous for charas in the Victorian era - the authorities seem to think charas there was made from wild plants... but this strain is definitely fully cultivated -

basically Cannabis indica var. indica in flux with the feral Cannabis indica var, subspontanea that grows extensively in the region

it's daft to call any of these cultivated Himalayan plants chinensis

But that's very close to the Chinese border and also by the old silk routes.

not really - Garhwal is not in any meaningful sense near the 'silk routes' -

the only arm of the 'silk route' that passes anywhere near there is one from Yarkand into Srinagar, Kashmir across the Karakoram --- a long way to the northwest... the furthest east that route went was via Kullu to the plains (eastern Punjab)

here is a map showing the 'silk road' - and giving you a sense of just how much there is between Hengduan, the likely origin point of chinensis hemp (way to the east behind the scale box) and Garhwal, somewhere to the west of the 'H' of Himalaya


there are trans-Himalayan trade routes in the area - Garhwal and Nepal are on the fringes of Tibet... Tibet exported and imported a small amount of charas to Kumaon and Garhwal, possibly also into Kullu/Shimla...

but there is no way Tibet has cannabis cultivation or consumption on the scale of India, or that cannabis of any form constituted an item of commerce that might account for the movement of genetics across these vast, challenging, dangerous and thinly populated terrain

on the far, far east fringes of Tibet bordering Sichuan etc. there may have been extensive chinensis hemp cultivation - but this is a long, long way from Nepal and Garhwal

I think it is very, very, very unlikely that multipurpose Himalayan strains can correctly be called chinensis, or are descended directly from East Asian hemp strains

I mean the hemp must have come from somewhere, there are two genepools that are exlusively used for hemp, East Asian and European/Siberian. I would think north Indian strains are likely to be partly descendant from either one.

Cannabis probably originated in Central Asia, around the Altai and Tien Shan, about 30 something million years ago

successive glaciation then separated it into two species: Cannabis sativa, which had refuges in southeastern Europe, and Cannabis indica, which had refuges in southern Asia...

Clarke and Merlin suggest the Yungui plateau/Hengduan mountains as the primary point of origin for Cannabis indica... I would guess that is the origin point for East Asian hemp and Southeast Asian ganja strains

but I would guess that the southern foothills of Himalaya somewhere around western Nepal is the refuge area for a western branch of C. indica (same latitude as Hengduan)

Indo Europeans would have carried the Siberian genes, while East Asians would grow the Chinese ones. There have been migrations from both directions to India/Pakistan/Nepal. Some Nepalese groups originate in Yunnan as well.

a massive current of cannabis flows into the plains of North India from Central Asia - over millenia successive waves of cannabis using groups have flowed into this region from the north...

by comparison any Trans-Himalayan influence from over the mountains is a tiny trickle by comparison, especially from as far east as Yunnan... the friction of terrain across the Tibetan Plateau, Southeast Asian Massif and high Himalaya is vast by comparison to the ease with which influences can flow in from Central Asia...

compare other influences people can carry with them: is there any linguistic influence coming from that far east into India? or think of other plants: tea originates in a similar area to Hengduan... but it took the British to bring tea into India, despite some wild plants growing in NE India...

An interesting difference between north west India and Nepal is the lack of cbd strains in the latter. Nepal is more east Asian influenced, isn't it?

I think you are allowing modern political borders to influence your speculations too much

'mongoloid' ethnic groups have long lived throughout the northern fringes of the high Himalaya - as far west as Kashmir, all across the Himalaya... Indians usually refer to them collectively as Bhutia - Sherpas, Tamang etc. etc.

there's not really a 'lack' of CBD in Nepalese cannabis, afaik that is info based on a here handful of samples - CBD may be less prevalent because Nepal is significantly closer to the tropics, but I have no doubt there is typically plenty of CBD in Nepalese farmhouse and charas strains (as opp. cultivated ganja you might find on the Terai)

feral cannabis grows all across these regions, and there will be plenty of CBD there, as in say feral cannabis in Delhi (still further south)

Do Tibetans traditionally grow hemp? Would the climate even allow that?

climate in mountain areas is highly diverse --- I'm sure there is wild and cultivated cannabis in many regions of Tibet, and small amounts of it were exported out of Tibet into some Himalayan regions

regions encompassed in the broad term Tibet will vary from lush sub tropical to arid high mountain desert, depending on where you are

no doubt there is extensive hemp cultivation in Sichuan, which is on the eastern fringes of the Tibetan area - (i.e. Kham etc., which were seldom in any meaningful sense connected with Lhasa... too far away, independent minded, and so on )

anyway - there is no way that it makes sense to group cultivated Himalayan multipurpose fibre/seed/drug plants into the same group as cultivated East Asian seed/hemp plants...

personally I would discard that, along with the 'kafiristanica' thing to refer to Cannabis indica var. (sub)spontanea Edited by namkha
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this is a really interesting post by GlennOrch which I have moved from CannabisNZ's Mango Thai Jungle thread

Amazing pitures of the Isaan Thai line... I have some seeds in the fridge I would love to reproduce soon, too many projects to run though and not so much space and time for everything!

As for the taxanomic issue, for sure it's been a polemic issue surrounded by a lot of debate but I think it's quite easy to gather all the information and make logical conclussions. You can see how each different botanist tried to favor his own approach and Clarke has nothing to do in this, he just follows earlier and reasonable criteria for the ideas he tries to spread:

- Initially, early classifications from Cannabis genus were based only in phenotypical characterisctis and morfological differences. In 1753, Linnaeus named one only species, Cannabis Sativa L, to classify the hemp that was grown all over Europe, specially for fiber uses.

- In 1785, Jean Baptiste Lamark received a sample from a plant gathered in the India and he observed many differences with the hemp plants they used to know. Poor fiber qualities but much more intoxicant properties, he called it Cannabis Indica Lam., honoring the place it was brought from. This special plant was collected by his french colleage Pierre Sonnerat between 1748 and 1814 in West Indies. He travelled around Madagascar, India, Ceylan, Philippines, Indonesia and China. It's impossible to know the exact source for the cannabis sample.

- Later in the XIX century, new species or subespecies from China and Indochina (vietnam) were named Cannabis Chinensis (Delile) and Cannabis Gigantea (Delile ex Vilmorin). Still the concept of one unique species was still vigent.

- In 1924, the russian botanist Janichevsky found that the ruderal russian variety should be either a Cannabis Sativa L subspecie or a new species, Cannabis Ruderalis.

- In 1929, another botanist called Vavilov, studied all the wild varieties found in Afghanistan and named them as the Cannabis Indica Lam subespecies "Kafiristanica Vav". He name also the ones found in Europe as Cannabis Sativa L var Spontanea.

-Serebriakova and Sizov in 1940 proposed a different and complex classification: Cannabis Sativa included Cannabis Sativa subsp Culta (domestic grown plants) and Cannabis Sativa susb Spontanea (wild and feral plants).

-In 1976, botanist E. Small and taxonomist A.Conquist published in a magazine a revision where they only recognized a unique Cannabis species with two subspecies:

C. Sativa L subsp. Sativa

C. Sativa L Subsp. Sativa var Spontanea (wild or feral).

C. Sativa L subsp. Indica.

C. Sativa L subsp. Indica var Kafiristanica Vav. (wild or feral)

Their hypotesis was that both groups evolved thanks to the human selection, while one subespecies was cultivated and selected for the use of fiber and seeds/oil, the other was for drug/medicine use. He also assumed that other wild or feral varieties could have also intoxicant properties.

- In several studies during the 70s, famous ethnobotanist R. Schultes and others, concluded there were several morphological differences that would allow us to differenciate between three species: Cannabis Sativa (tall, branchy and thin leaflets), Cannabis Indica (short, conical and wide leaflets) and Cannabis Ruderalis (small, Central Asia). This interpretation is the most widespread and generally accepted by the cannabis community traditionally.

- During the XX century, with new genetical resources, Hilling and Malberg published a taxonomical and chemical analysis in 2004, where they studied 160 differen strains from all over the world, both drug, wild, fiber and seed strains. They concluded only 2 species exist, C. Sativa and C. Indica and no proof was found on C. Ruderalis as a different species genetically. So we have Cannabis Indica (all the landraces with both thin and wide leaflets, bred by the man for drug, medicine or hash) and Cannabis Sativa (all teh landrace strains bred for fiber and seeds and also the wild and feral strains from Europe, Central Asia and Minor Asia).

After all this, I think what is clear, is the fact that all the drug strains came from the same ancestral Cannabis Indica varieties, they probably got spread from Central Asia to the Hindu Kush, Himalayas and to the south aswell into India and from there, all over the world in hands of the indian coolies to Africa, SE Asia, Madagascar, Jamaica or even Brazil; where they evolved into all the different ecotypes and landraces adapting themselves to new enviroments and conditions! And that they are different than the Cannabis Sativa hemp and feral varieties.


After having studied a lot on cannabis history and evolution in many different areas, trying to link it to the human migration and trade routes. I think the anthropological and historical theories favor this latest genetic re-classification. In the time that map came out, it was based on theories and thoughts but nowadays, you can see how it's pretty accurate and Hillig's genetic studies totally support all this theories that many had many years before. This was also observed by many us growers when comparing strains, finding how old Jamaican lines are very similar to old South Indian. And how Madacascar, Ethiopia and Reunion strains resemble Kerala and ganja plants as well! Same structure, smells, maturation times... food for thought!

My 2 cents!


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This Clarke/Merlin book seems to be the next general reference ouvrage, serious, scientific, just what was needed in an overly disputed and occulted field...

Thanks Namkha.

Price a bit steep but will have to order it at some point...

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A Map of the Lands Actually Discovered by European Explorers

When studying Western history, we tend to say that this European explorer discovered this continent or that island, when those lands were already long inhabited. Cartographer Bill Rankin maps out the lands that were uninhabited by time of Europe's Age of Exploration.


Rankin's map covers regions that had been inhabited by humans and regions that were known of but never occupied, as well as some true undiscovered countries. (He's discounting Europe itself, which was at some point, some human's discovery, although that person or persons wasn't European at the time.) It's also interesting to see how the regions break down by nationality of the explorers and at what point different nations entered into the discovery game. Plus, there's the realization that roughly 0.05% of the human population lives in these late-discovered lands. (It also shows the incredible amount of ocean these explorers covered.) It's a very different perspective on Europe's Age of Exploration.


Edited by namkha
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skimmed through some of the stuff I wrote above just now and there are some inaccuracies and things I got wrong

anyway, this article is interesting:

Now We Know What Killed The Ancient 'Ice Princess,' And Why She Had That Marijuana
The Huffington Post | By Dominique Mosbergen
Posted: 10/16/2014 1:13 pm EDT Updated: 10/16/2014 1:59 pm EDT

Did a dying Siberian maiden who lived 2,500 years ago self-medicate with marijuana? New research by Russian scientists shows that's a likely possibility.

The mummified body of the Siberian "ice princess" -- so well preserved that tattoos on her skin were still visible when she was found -- was unearthed in an icy plateau in eastern Russia's Altai Mountains back in 1993. Since then, scientists have gained a good understanding of who the ice princess was, and how she and her people lived.

But no one knew for sure how the woman, who's believed to have been in her 20s when she died back in the 5th Century B.C., met her end.

Until now.

To solve the mystery, a team of Russian scientists using MRI scans determined that the ice princess was likely suffering from breast cancer.

“We are dealing with a primary tumor in the right breast and right axial lymph nodes with metastases,” team member Andrey Letyagin told the Siberian Times. “I am quite sure of the diagnosis -- she had cancer.”

(Story continues below image.)

The Siberian "ice princess," also known as the "ice maiden." Tattoos on her arm are visible. Since 2012 the mummy has been housed in a special mausoleum inside the Republican National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk, Russia.

The scans also showed that the princess had the bone infection osteomyelitis, Letyagin added. In addition, he said, the scans found evidence of injuries consistent with a fall -- perhaps from a horse.

To cope with the pain she must have been experiencing, the princess could have resorted to cannibis -- a container of the stuff having been found alongside the mummy in her burial chamber.

As archaeologist Natalya Polosmak wrote in a recent issue of the journal Science First Hand: “It is likely that for this sick woman, the regular inhalation of cannabis smoke was a necessity.”


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I've thoroughly enjoyed learning whilst reading this and the Kerala threads and l have some random thoughts of my own about the origins of cannabis finding its way down to Southern Africa. As far as I understood, 13th century Arab sailors were the original pot dealers of Africa. I never knew of the ancient archeological discoveries until I read these threads now. Now we're talking millennia, not just centuries and So my mind started to ponder how cannabis could've arrived at such early times.

I'll start on the equator with a couple of different possible ancient entries into the continent, because there is a hypothesis that in Ethiopia, the fore fathers of the tribe known as the Falashas, or Black Jews are said to have migrated from Israel, as early as 900 bc. The route that they took followed the Blue Nile to its source at Lake Tana, or even branching off along the course of the Arbara and Takazza rivers, south of Axum and deep into the equatorial, Simien Mountains.

This must've been prime real estate, back in the day, because in later times, around the 6th century bc another Asian influx arrived in the Abbysinian highlands. This time it was of Arabian tribesmen, specifically semetic immigrants from the Yemen.

They assimilated themselves into the local population in northern Ethiopia and over the next few centuries they slowly started the so called, dawn of civilisation. This cultural transformation brought in art, architecture, religion and a system of writing. Its been stated in these threads that Arabian seamen traded up and down the entire East coast of Africa and now you can see how they were early African colonisers aswell, far inland and away from the coast.

At around the same time, the Bantu tribes were migrating south from the Congo basin, also colonising new land across the centuries, as they made their way over the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers and into Southern Africa. Is it possible that cannabis seeds were traded from East Africa, then to central Africa and finally made their way into the South?

Another Asian, Mediterranean possibility could well be the legends of Phonecians, who managed to sail their way up the Zambezi river, who were at first friendly, but quickly turned on the native tribes and enslaved them to mine the gold for the invaders. Eventually, the Phonecians paid for their cruelty and the local tribes completely destroyed their captors and wiped them off the map and into oblivion.

Now for the modern influx of cannabis growers and enthusiasts along these shores. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade their way along the east coast and then by using Arabian pilots, they made it all the way along to Goa on the west coast of India. Give or take a year and that was around about 500 years ago. Then the Dutch followed suit, by this time Cape Town was established as a refuelling post on the way to the East Indies. The Dutch brought slaves with them from Malaya, Indonesia or Batavia as they called it.

Finally the English filled up the sugar plantations with indentured labourers from south India, mainly young Gujarati men.

So there are another 3 possible Asian sources for the next wave of genetics, into the pool.

Before the internet, the most active seed seekers, with the ability and the know how, were the surfers, who since the 60's have been able to pick up pips from places as diverse as the Hawaiian archipelago, Tahiti, California and Australia. Long before the strain hunters came along, dedicated enthusiasts have been adding to the genetic mix in Africa

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Hi @@capetonian - great to hear you had a good read here.

I definitely agree with the consensus about cannabis arriving in Africa from Asia - from the mainland route from the northwest, through Egypt and Ethiopia, during the surge in cannabis use during the Medieval Muslim period... 12th - 14th century ish.

And also over the seas with Arab merchants, primarily from India, from around the same period.

I also agree with there being later 19th century infusions into Cape cannabis, during the British colonial era, with Indian "indentured labourers" (contracted slaves, essentially) being brought to the plantations at the same time cannabis was being introduced to the Caribbean, also by Indians brought to sugar plantations.

I think Merlin, or someone, has written a good paper on how cannabis diffused from East Africa across Central Africa to Angola, and from there to Brazil.

But when it comes to those alleged really early archaeological finds - pollen in caves etc. - going back way into pre-history, I think we are on much sketchier ground. I really don't think it is possible to put much meaningful weight on those claims.

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Hello namkha,

Now I've read the Sinai thread aswell and have now got even more food for thought.

Do you have a link for the Merlin paper that you mentioned, please?

I don't claim to have any definitive answers, more like hunches and guess work, but looking at the data below, it would seem to suggest that there is a link between Kerala and the Transkei. There wasn't any data on Egypt, Ethiopia or Angola to compare with. Most of the other African data had very similar info, only Nigeria was out of line. Nigeria is famous as a drug transiting hub, so that may account for the difference.

South Africa SA-3 4 Transkei Drug AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

India In-1 12 Munar, Kerala Drug 91-194c AMSRS C. ind.i; C. sat.j; ind. ind.k

So I have a couple of questions to ask you. You will have to forgive my poor Indian geography.

Where in relation is Gujarat in comparison to Kerala. Are they relatively close to each other? And also what sort of latitude and climate?

Transkei is the furthest south that cannabis will naturally grow,in Africa. Any further south and the climate becomes more Mediterranean. The local climate is sub, sub tropical, plenty of summer rains and relatively dry winters. There are warm, tropical currents, moving southwards. It can get very sticky and humid, along the coast. If you venture further inland, the hilly regions can get very cold at night, down near to zero in the winter.

Maximum daylight is no more than 16 hours and the latitude is at 30'

In the cannabis news section, there's a story about Eastern bale dagga. Have a look at the pics and see if they are in any way similar to the South Indian strains that you know and love.

Bom bale nat

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Hi - those descriptions of Transkei and Kerala ganja don't imply any genetic link necessarily - they are just three ways of saying the same thing; three different ways of saying that they are 'sativas', i.e. ganja plants... just using different taxonomical systems.

I am not sure which areas the indentured labourers in South Africa were taken from, but you are saying it was Gujarat, right? Up in Gujarat they would not be smoking ganja from Kerala. They would more likely be smoking stuff grown in areas of Gujarat, or exported from the major commercial ganja growing centres. The main one being in Bengal (in what is now Bangladesh), the other - closer to Gujarat - being in what is now Maharastra.

That said, I have always fancied that there may be a link between Kerala ganja and the strains grown in La Reunion, but that is very unlikely to relate to the strains that arrived in the Cape, so far as I know.

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