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It is thought that cannabis was first encountered in China some 6,000 years ago, where people consumed the seed as a food, as is still the case today in many rural regions. In the region between Southern China and Afghanistan, it is believed that the cannabis plant was extremely prevalent, and had many different uses. Cannabis has been used in this region over the last few thousand years, for medical applications, and also for industrial reasons.
Cannabis is a very successful plant, that has managed to spread throughout the world; to every corner of the globe. One of the reasons cannabis has been such a successful plant is because of its relationship with people, and the wide range of uses it has to them. For centuries, people have travelled far and wide, and have deposited various cannabis genetics all along the way. There are several thousand ‘different’ strains of cannabis in the modern world; however all of these strains came from just a handful of strains. But, if there is one strain that has made a stake for itself as the ‘most important’ of these building blocks then it is the afghan strains.
The afghan genepool is often considered as Indica genetics out right, but this may not have always been the case. Many cannabis aficionados will think of Afghani cannabis as a long standing full indica, but this is perhaps only the case very recently, in most of Afghanistan. In the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, and also along the banks of the Kunar river there have always been Indica plants. Since at least 1974 Indica plants have been cultivated in the Kandahar region specifically for hashish production. Whereas encounters with the Kunar river indica, has shown that these populations are wild, and uncultivated. Surprisingly, there are also reports of a sativa growing in afghanistan, both wildly, and also specifically cultivated for the purposes of hashish production.
In the classic book ‘Hashish’, author Robert Connell Clarke explains how Nikolai Vavilov, a Russian botanist, and expert on cultivated plants; reported that actually cannabis sativa had been cultivated in Faizabad. He also remarked that this sativa is what was generally used for hashish production in the region. As well as this very interesting observation, Vavilov also noted that along the banks of the Kunar River there were two varieties of cannabis indica growing wildly, neither of which had been specifically cultivated by that point. These two Indica varieties were known as C. indica var. afghanica Vav. and C.indica var. kafiristanica Vav.
Vavilov’s findings suggest that cannabis indica had not been cultivated, nor used for hashish production by 1924, but rather that C. sativa had been used instead. In Chinese Turkestan, hashish production was outlawed in 1935. This new avenue of prohibition forced many of the hashish makers to flee into Afghanistan; taking with them their C. sativa genetics. On their way west to Mazar-i-Sharif, they almost certainly would have encountered the wild growing C. indica varieties along the banks of the Kunar River, as this was the only route they could have taken.
In the 1970’s Selgnij reported that he saw wild growing plants in ditches, that exhibited narrow leaflets; indicative of a sativa. As well as seeing these wild growing sativas, he also saw cultivated plants with narrow leaflets; growing alongside the broad leafed indica variety in the same fields. This is probably a good indication that by the 1970’s in a lot of Afghanistan, an indica/sativa hybrid had actually developed.
Rob Clarke points out, that this development would’ve had more than enough time to take place; being that it was 40 years since the Chinese Turkestanian hashish makers had travelled west through Faizabad, and much of the country.
Due to pressures placed on the afghan gene pool by the western hashish market; the C. sativa variety is no longer seen in Afghanistan. Cannabis farmers favour the C. indica for its higher yield of resin; and therefore do not choose the sativa variety for their crops. The C. Sativa variety from this part of the world is now only found east of the Indus river, in Pakistan.
A typical modern day Afghan IBL will present itself as a short, squat plant, with dark green foliage, and an acrid smell. The plant is renowned for having a high THC level, and a cannabinoid profile that aids relaxation, rest, the munchies and heavy eyelids. There is no doubt the Afghan indica plant is a true medicine in its own right for many ailments. Due to its manageable size, and other favourable qualities such as potency; the Afghani plant has been used as a mother or a father for many of the thousands of hybrid strains that we see on the market today. The Afghan plant has involvement in all Skunk strains, as well as of course other variant skunk strains like Cheese, and AK 47. Cheese is actually a skunk selection that shows a lot of its Afghani lineage.
Here are some strains containing afghan genetics so you can see for yourself how prevalent the Afghan indica is in today’s cannabis genepool, showing up in some of the most renowned hybrids.
For super skunk the skunk #1 has been crossed with an Afghan plant, increasing the afghan influence over the effect, and also making the plant shorter than the skunk #1.
Is where White Widow has been crossed with an afghan strain. White Rhino or Medicine Man as it is sometimes known is an incredibly short plant with a fast flowering time, which is mainly due to the afghan influence. This strain is also a very useful medicine for pain relief.
Cheese, a strain originally bred by the exodus community in the UK, was first introduced to the seed market, and the High Times cannabis cup in 2004 by Homegrown Fantaseeds. Cheese is really a skunk #1 selection, but the selection seems to lean more towards the afghan genepool in terms of how the plant looks and grows.
As much as 25% of the lineage of this classic strain are afghan genes. Of course the best AK47 on the market is to this day the original done by Serious Seeds.
In LA Confidential the OG Kush (technically not a traditional kush) has been crossed with the Afghan, this makes the buds tighter, the plants shorter, and also adds a lovely narcotic effect as the initial high begins to wear off. In terms of effect, really the LA Confidential can be thought of as a slightly more uplifting Afghan.
Afgooey was really a ‘clone only’ strain, where Afghani #1 was crossed with Maui Haze. Recently Strain Hunters have recreated the Afgooey, indica dominant hybrid.
In this super strong strain from TH Seeds a Male Mazar-i-Sharif plant has been crossed with a female Trainwreck clone. Both trainwreck and Mazar-i-sharif ar capable of producing high quantities of THC, giving this strain some real clout.
Sensi Seeds - Afghani #1 - produces lovely, dense, fragrant, and narcotic buds; that have a sweet hashish taste.
Flying Dutchman - Afghanica - is a difficult strain to classify. Technically she is an afghan plant crossed with skunk #1. According to Flying Dutchmen however, the skunk only lends a hand in the area of yield and the growth pattern of the plant. The effect and taste being completely representative of an Afghan stain.
White Label Seeds - Afghan Kush - is a good yielding strain, producing large dense colas. When grown from seed this strain exhibits natural vigour, which can be seen as a jump in height during the early stages of the flowering period.
Homegrown Fantaseeds - Afghani - A good yielding pure indica, with dense rounded colas.
World of Seeds - Afghan Kush - From the Armu Darya river region of Afghanistan, that borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This variety has a woodsy flavour and scent.
Medicann Seeds - Afghani - An afghani variety from the Mazar-i-Sharif region.
British Colmbia Seeds - Afghani Dream - British Columbia seeds, F4 generation afghani #1 plant.
Next Generation - Afghani Kush - Available in regular or feminised. A pure indica with a flowering period of 45-55 days.
The afghan indica genepool has been spread far and wide, both geographically and also genetically used in many modern day hybrids. the Afghan Indica deserves a place in the most prized seed collection.