A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Genetics

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Cannabis E-commerce, European Market, Seed & Strain Creation

 Sooner or later, every cannabis fan will wonder where their favorite strain came from. However, cannabis lineages can be complicated, and solving that mystery can mean wading through jargon, technical language, and similar-sounding abbreviations.

Whether you leave the breeding up to the experts or are researching how to grow your perfect cultivar, Symple Seeds can help. Our cannabis genetics beginner’s guide will help you get started, and when you’re ready, our seed and strain creation services will be happy to do the heavy lifting for you.

What is Cannabis Genetics?

Simply put, cannabis genetics has to do with the breeding of cannabis

Like all other plants and animals, cannabis plants have genes that decide their appearance, aroma, effects, and more. Those genes can be passed down to other plants naturally or through breeding. 


12 Essential Cannabis Genetics Terms and Phrases

One of the most challenging parts of learning about cannabis genetics is getting familiar with the specialized language that growers and enthusiasts use. 


1. Strain vs. Cultivar

You’ve probably heard the words “strain” and “cultivar” used interchangeably, but they technically have different meanings. 

What is a Cannabis Strain?

Most people use “strain” to describe different kinds of cannabis

Technically, this isn’t correct. In biology, the word “strain” describes a specific genetic variant, usually to describe things like viruses and fungi, like the different flu strains that circulate yearly. Even though it’s not technically the right word to use here, most people, including industry professionals, accept that “strain” is the popularly used word and is interchangeable with “cultivar.”

What is a Cannabis Cultivar?

If you’re a stickler, “cultivar” is technically the correct term to describe different types of cannabis. It’s short for “cultivated variety” and refers to the fact that each variety has typically been purposefully bred. Plants of all kinds, not just cannabis, have different cultivars.


2. Genotype Vs. Phenotype

While these terms sound intimidating, they describe relatively simple concepts. Let’s take it back to high school biology class.

What is a Cannabis Genotype?

This term also applies to any living thing. A genotype is a plant or animal’s genetic makeup. If you have a specific cannabis cultivar, like OG Kush, it should technically share the same genotype with all other OG Kush plants (though this, unfortunately, isn’t standardized). 

What is a Cannabis Phenotype?

An organism’s phenotype refers to the visible traits it shows or “expresses.” While all OG Kush plants might have the same genotype, they can have different phenotypes: one plant might grow faster, another might produce a larger harvest, and so on.


3. What is Pheno-Hunting?

Short for “phenotype hunting,” this refers to the practice of finding the best phenotype of a given strain. When you create a new strain, your work is incomplete when you harvest that first batch of seeds. You’ll need to plant those and see which one exhibits the traits you were looking for — and then go through several more breeding sessions to strengthen those specific traits. 

That’s one of the reasons we always suggest you trust an expert to do your cannabis breeding for you: Creating the perfect strain takes much careful work, but the geneticists at Symple Seeds are trained for the task. 


4. Indica Vs. Sativa Vs. Hybrid

Most people use these terms to group cannabis cultivars into broad categories based on their effects. However, scientifically speaking, looking at the terpenes and cannabinoids gives a much fuller picture than a simple “indica or sativa” split. Because so many modern strains are technically hybrids, this is especially true. Still, it’s the language most people use to talk about cultivars, so it can be helpful to know. 

What is an Indica?

Indica cultivars are usually said to produce a relaxing body high. The classic cultural way to remember this is to think of indica causing consumers to end up “in-da-couch.”

What is a Sativa?

Sativa strains are typically said to be energizing, producing more of a cerebral high. 

What is a Cannabis Hybrid?

As you can probably guess, a hybrid is a cannabis cultivar with indica and sativa plants in its lineage. They’re said to have more balanced effects. 


5. What is Crossbreeding Cannabis?

Crossbreeding cannabis simply refers to breeding two (or more) cultivars to create an entirely new cannabis variety. It can be hard work, but when you work with a service like Symple Seeds’ strain and seed creation service, we will help you every step of the way. 


6. Chemovar vs. Chemotype

So, now you’ve learned that strain names aren’t standardized, the difference between indicas and sativas isn’t as clear as you once thought, and that “strain” isn’t even technically the right word to use here. What can you count on when choosing cannabis? Chemovars and chemotypes

What is a Cannabis Chemovar?

Chemovars are loose groups of different types of cannabinoids, categorized based on their most prevalent cannabinoids and terpenes. If you know the chemovar of some cannabis you simply adore, you can bet you will also enjoy any other type in the same group. 

What is a Cannabis Chemotype?

Another way to group cannabis is by chemotype. Chemotype looks solely at the most predominant cannabinoids in a cultivar. While not as specific as the chemovar, chemotypes can still provide valuable information on what to expect from a cannabis product. 


7. What are Cannabis Lineages?

Think of cannabis lineages like your favorite cultivar’s family tree. These lineages will tell you which plants were bred together to give you a cannabis variety. Because many popular cultivars are hybrids nowadays, these lineages can stretch back through several generations and branch off countless times. 


Where to find the Best Cannabis Genetics

Not all cannabis seeds are created equal. Symple Seeds carries a huge catalog of high-quality feminized and autoflower seeds our trained cannabis geneticists have carefully verified. Whether sourcing wholesale cannabis seeds, creating your own cannabis seeds, or starting a cannabis seed company, Symple Seeds can help.

Contact us today to access the best cannabis genetics on the market. 

Contact us today for tailor-made cannabis seed solutions.

Our Blog

Skip to content