The cannabis plant is one of the most versatile plants on the planet, with many types and strains developed over the centuries. When we think of cannabis, we often think of the two most common types of the cannabis plant mentioned today, indica and sativa. The hybrid plant is a cross between the two, identified as either “indica leaning” or “sativa leaning”. What we do not hear much about, however, is the cannabis ruderalis plant.

What is Cannabis Ruderalis?

Cannabis ruderalis has remained the underdog of the three types of cannabis plant species, although it surely has a place in the cannabis community. The ruderalis plant has recognition for delivering auto-flowering traits to cannabis strains. Cannabis ruderalis gets its name from its origins sprouting up in central and eastern Europe, Asia, and Russia, where it grows as a weedy plant among rubbish or waste. This has allowed the ruderalis plant to adapt to harsh conditions and climates.


Many botanists question whether or not ruderalis should be defined as its own species, although it seems to lie somewhere between sativa and indica genetically. Some people may confuse ruderalis as being the same as hemp, although this is not true. Hemp is not a different species of cannabis, although it is a type of cannabis plant that is bred selectively to feature minimal amounts of THC. For a cannabis plant to qualify as hemp in the United States, it must contain less than .3% of THC. This level varies typically between .2% and .3% in other countries.

What’s the Difference between Ruderalis and Hemp?

Cannabis ruderalis is grown to have low levels of THC, although it still has more than hemp. Ruderalis and hemp both contain similar levels of CBD, although they can vary. Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years and has more versatile uses than ruderalis. Hemp is farmed to be used for many things like biofuel, for use in paper and fabrics, health supplements, and other purposes.

Cannabis ruderalis, however, is used primarily for one purpose, breeding.

How Does Ruderalis Differ from Sativa and Indica?

Cannabis ruderalis differs from the other types of cannabis species in appearance and chemical makeup. Here are some of the main characteristics of each subspecies of cannabis:

  • Sativa – Sativa plants grow well in hot climates and grow taller than indica and ruderalis plants, reaching heights as tall as 9 ft. Sativas are taller and slimmer than indica plants and have thinner leaves. A Sativa strain will produce more of a cerebral, energetic, and uplifting high than Indica.
  • Indica – Indica plants are accustomed to growing in cooler climates and have developed better resistance to those environments. Indica plants grow shorter and bushier than sativa and have wider leaves. Indica strains produce more of a body buzz, an “in-da-couch” type of feeling that is relaxing, often good for inducing sleep and appetite.
  • Hybrid – Hybrids are exactly that, a combination of both sativa and indica and may show qualities of both types of cannabis, typically with traits leaning towards one or the other.
  • Ruderalis – Ruderalis is a ‘wild cannabis’ that grows shorter and compact and has adapted to extreme environments. It typically produces smaller, chunkier buds with low levels of THC but can have high CBD levels.

Ruderalis does not require a change in lighting to flip to the flowering stage but rather relies on time instead of daylight. This is the main trait of autoflowering plants and is why ruderalis is used for breeding autoflower strains.

Ruderalis for Breeding Autoflower Strains

Ruderalis alone will not produce high-THC marijuana used for medical or recreational purposes, although when crossed with other quality strains can produce a high-quality autoflower strain. Breeders use ruderalis plants to breed autoflowers that can start to flower after just 3-4 weeks of vegetative growth. This allows for more complete harvests throughout the year and can protect a crop against a short season and damage from oncoming cooler weather.

If you’re looking for high-quality autoflowering seeds or feminized seeds, check out the wide selection of The Seed Cellar, one of the largest online weed seed banks with over 3,000 strains from more than 80 selected breeders. Check out the seed bank at The Seed Cellar today for Indicas, Sativas, or hybrids from the best breeders in the business, all delivered in original breeder packaging.