Strain Families: The OG Kush Family
Published on 1/4/23
It is often said that the cannabis community is a family. Not only are many cannabis businesses run by mothers or daughters passing along a family legacy, but it is always easy to make new friends whenever you have the chance to pass along a good joint of bud. When it comes to the cannabis plant itself, family matters too: the different strains belong to different families, meaning that within the strain species itself, there are subdivisions and different breeds. This can mean quite a bit between families, as one cousin plant may have very different effects than another. What are strain families, and what do they mean for someone interested in various types of marijuana?
Like so many other things in the cannabis world, there are no set definitions of what a strain is or is not, other than the biological definition. Strictly speaking, there are really only three strains of cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. If you have never heard of ruderalis, it is because it is a low-THC strain, so it is not very popular relative to its siblings and is rarely sold in dispensaries. By contrast, sativa and indica are so popular that you can get whichever you want, or a hybrid of the two, as you prefer.
Any particular strain you see on a shelf, however, has its origins in a parent plant that has become the grandmother (or grandfather, if it is hemp) of the modern-day strain. Given that it is often easier to clone cannabis than to plant it, some few plants may still be part of a plant whose history dates back generations. A strain family tree derives from an original strain, with branches indicating where cross-fertilization and hybridization have led to new genetic lineages. The easiest example to explain is OG Kush, partly because of its widespread use and partly because it has a history older than many countries, including the United States.
The term "kush" derives from some of the mightiest mountains in the world, the Hindu Kush stretch of the Himalayas. This may have been the site of the first cannabis cultivation in world history, a tradition that stretched out in each direction of the Eurasian continent over time. Whatever the origins, kush strains of cannabis date back so far and in so many directions that it requires DNA analysis to tease out which is the oldest.
We do know, however, that the strain known as OG Kush is, in fact, relatively young. First conceived in the 1990s through the intermarriage of Lemon Thai and Paki Kush, OG Kush burst onto the scene due to its potent nature, easy flavor, and uplifting effects. Not only did people want to smoke it, but they also wanted to experiment with it. Stoner engineering, as we all know, has no limits, and for many hobbyists, pushing the envelope of good weed means getting your hands dirty. As OG Kush expanded, this "kushfather" branched off into many related strains. All of the strains in this family have the same phenotypes, meaning genetic material. However, these strain genetics are expressed in different ways, such as color, size, and potency, much in the same way that you may have siblings with different hair and eye color, despite having the same parents.
Arguably the most popular strain of cannabis in the United States today, Sour Diesel has proven its worth as a heavy hitter despite tasting like pure gasoline. Available in most dispensaries, Sour Diesel sativa is a cross between Chemdawg and Super Skunk. Known as energizing and fast-acting, this is often the go-to choice for creatives or upbeat activities, allowing you to get yourself in gear instead of melting into the couch. Some CBD-heavy hybrids of Sour Diesel are also popular in the medical community, although its parent strain has very little CBD.
Despite the name and the popularity, Kosher Kush is one entry into the family strain that is pretty mysterious. While the term "kosher" refers to certainty in what you are eating, we do not know who came up with this strain, although stoners will tell you their origin story of choice if you only ask. At 20% THC, Kosher is known for its full-body high with a long-lasting effect. The citrus flavors are more robust than the parent plant, making it lip-smackingly good.
Originating from the South African city of Durban, Durban Poison has come a long way to become a global icon. Though it is only moderate in terms of its hitting power (about 18% THC and 1% CBD), sometimes that is a recipe for success when you want to change the mood instead of going all the way to Mars. It has a much sweeter smell and taste than its grandparents, while its uplifting effects mean a little can go a long way.
Take a good look at the crystals growing on this plant, interbred with the Gelato strain, and you may wonder whether they are actually a dusting of sugar. Vanilla Frosting has all the taste you want from Gelato mixed with all the firepower of Kush. At 20% THC, it provides more than enough good stuff to get you baked but also has a calming effect, perfect for those with limited cannabis experience.
Why name a strain jealousy? Well, you may not be envious after smoking this hybrid, though you certainly will be seeing green. This is another Gelato mix, bred with Sherb BX1 by California growers. The deep purple of the crystals indicates their power: at about 30% THC, this is one of the strongest members of the kush family, capable of putting you all the way out.