Ruderalis: The Ultimate Guide

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Cannabis Ruderalis
Author avatar By Derek LaRose
December 31, 2021
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Is ruderalis the forgotten member of the cannabis family? With its autoflowering characteristics and resilient properties, we hope not.

Cannabis ruderalis is one of the toughest cultivars due to its superb hardiness toward the most challenging growing conditions. The seeds’ resistance toward cold weather conditions began to manifest in countries like Asia and Europe.

Ruderalis strains usually grow wild without the care of cultivators. Using growing programs, cannabis enthusiasts have cross-bred many strains with ruderalis to incorporate its core qualities.

There’s so much to learn about these plants—what do they look like? What are their effects? What’s the difference between ruderalis, sativa, and indica strains? Familiarize yourself with these crops and get your hand in on growing them.

Let’s go!

Ruderalis Cannabis Plant

What is ruderalis?

Cannabis ruderalis is the reason you have auto-flowering strains readily available. They’re not the prettiest of the lot, but the qualities they retain have cannabis cross-breeders in a frenzy.

Ruderalis is one of the easiest strains to grow for beginners since they don’t need much maintenance. The only drawback to cultivating these buds is that as pure-breds, they hold no psychoactive properties for recreational users. 

Ruderalis seeds hybridize with many other cultivars to create kicker strains, allowing these crops to have auto-flowering and resilient traits.

They grow under the toughest conditions and can be found near the sides of roads. Ruderalis weed is a wild cannabis plant that determines its own growth cycle from germination to flowering.

Sturdy stems support full-grown ruderalis buds that are small, heavy, and stocky. These plants are smaller in height than pure indicas or sativas. Despite their diminutive stature, the CBD content in their nugs make them a favorite strain for medical growers.

Where does this strain originate from?

Ruderalis Cannabis Plant

Cannabis ruderalis origins

These scraggy little cannabis crops have been around for over a millennium. 

Ruderalis strains are said to have originated in Asia, Europe, and Russia. In the early 1900’s they were identified as subspecies of the cannabis family.

Before discovering their growth potential, ruderalis predominantly grew as weed plants alongside farm roads.

Ruderalis vs sativa vs indica vs hybrid

When selecting a strain to cultivate, it’s important to know whether indica, sativa or ruderalis are dominant. Crossing these cultivars creates hybrid strains.

Cannabinoid properties and terpenes are other building blocks that contribute to cannabis plants’ genetic make-up. Each strain is uniquely designed to grow a specific way, producing certain effects, smells, and tastes based on these available in the crops.

Pure indicas, sativas, or ruderalis weed are rare in the cannabis industry today. Cultivars like pure Indica feminized cannabis seeds are one of the few that is 100% indica. 

Cultivators combine strains to create hybrids that hold properties from each type. The growth cycle, effects, aromas, and flavors of hybrid strains depend on whether the crops are indica, sativa, or ruderalis-leaning. 

For example, a sativa dominant strain like Gelato Autoflower cannabis seeds holds indica and ruderalis traits. This allows for a faster flowering period, small crops, and generous yield production.

Let’s summarize the other three to help you understand the difference in their properties and how each contributes to the type of seeds you grow.

Indica x sativa x ruderalis chart

Type of strainGrowing and physical appearanceEffects and flavors
Indica

– Photoperiod flowering
– Fairly low THC
– High CBD
– Grows up to 6 feet tall
– Best for indoor growing
– Short flowering period of 8–12 weeks
– Grows well in cool climates
– Short and bushy structure
– Dark green, broad leaves
– Buds are dense
– Effects focus on the body 
– Body high of relaxed, sedative feelings
– Sleep induced sensations 
– Increases appetite
– Earthy, skunky smell
Sativa

– Photoperiod flowering
– High THC 
-Low CBD
– Grows up to 20 feet tall
– Best for outdoor growing
– Longer flowering period of 10–16 weeks
– Grows well in warm climates
– Tall, slender plants with long, thin light green leaves
– Buds are long and thin that stack up onto each other at times
– Effects focus on the head
– Provide head high
– Increased energy
– Stimulating
– Induces creativity
– Euphoric
– Sweet flavors and aromas
Ruderalis

– Autoflowering
– Low THC
– High CBD
– Grows to 2 feet
– Short flowering period of 5–7 weeks
– Moves into the flowering stage on its own
– Grows well in any climate
– Buds are very small
– No psychoactive effects
– Sharp, earthy smell with hints of lime
– Sweet flavors

What are the properties of cannabis ruderalis?

Ruderalis weed plants are short and sturdy and produce a few thick and sticky nugs.

One of their greatest properties that continuously keep them in the cannabis market is their auto-flowering abilities. It allows the ruderalis seeds to progress on their own. Throughout the growth cycle, there’s no need for constant light adjustments to activate the flowering stage.

These crops can grow in extreme hot or cold climates, windy, rainy weather, varying humidity levels, and irregular lighting provision.

Because of their hardy nature, they’re easily resistant to common pests and diseases that usually develop on other strains.

Weed Screen of green

What are the cannabis ruderalis effects?

The only way weed enthusiasts will feel psychedelic effects with a ruderalis strain present is toking on a hybrid containing ruderalis genetics.

Does ruderalis get you high?

It doesn’t produce any psychoactive properties due to the low levels of THC in the crops.

Due to the higher levels of CBD that is present, you experience calming and relaxed feelings.

As reported, the effects due to the CBD content are:

  • Calming and relaxed
  • Helps to reduce anxiety
  • Assists to fall asleep faster
  • Boosts appetite
  • Reduces inflammation

What are the physical attributes of cannabis ruderalis?

Ruderalis crops are easily identified when they stand next to indica or sativa plants. They’re short and produce fewer branches. The main stems are thick, while the branches are thin, fibrous, and have a rough texture.

Ruderalis leaf

The leaves from ruderalis weed don’t branch out much, are light green, broad, and display only three to five fingers.

Ruderalis buds

Ruderalis buds are much smaller than those produced from sativa and indica crops—they’re dense and chunky but don’t provide much yield. The CBD levels are relatively fair to provide an array of medicinal benefits.

Ruderalis seeds

Ruderalis seeds are hard and can survive physical damage like being stepped on without disturbing the germination process. These seeds can defy extreme conditions while underground until it receives a signal to start growing.

Types of Cannabis Leaves
Types of Cannabis Leaves: Sativa, Indica & Ruderalis

Growing ruderalis: what is the growth cycle?

Cultivators of ruderalis seeds can expect flowers to appear 3–5 weeks after vegetation. After planting the seeds, these crops are ready to be harvested in 10–15 weeks. They have a shorter vegetative life cycle due to their auto-flowering genetics.

Do ruderalis bud?

Unlike sativa and indica that need a change in the light cycle to start flowering, ruderalis strains rely on their internal clock to begin this process. These crops flower with age and not with a change in their light cycle.

What are the auto-flowering genes?

There are generally two flowering types that cannabis crops preserve within their genes. Autoflowering is what cannabis ruderalis holds, and photoperiod is what indica and sativa strains possess.

Autoflowering properties

  • Crops are easy to grow and don’t need any cultivation interference to get to their flowering stage, which happens over a shorter period.
  • Plants automatically progress into the flowering stage without light adjustments.
  • Plants like ruderalis are smaller in height due to their rapid growth.

Photoperiod properties

  • These cultivars are high-maintenance and need daily care to get from the vegetative stage to harvesting.
  • These plants only progress to the flowering phase when their light cycles have been adjusted.
  • Crops are larger than auto-flowering ones because they have a lot more time to draw in nutrients and sunlight to encourage a more robust life cycle.

Due to the auto-flowering properties, new cannabis strains are created using ruderalis seeds.

Autoflower weed plant
Girl Scout Cookies Autoflower

Do ruderalis plants produce cannabinoids?

Ruderalis buds do produce cannabinoids but not enough to interest recreational users. THC levels are very low in these strains. In other words, tokers will not experience effects from an inhale of ruderalis nugs.

On the flip side of the coin, there are the CBD properties that this cultivar holds. These are beneficial for medicinal uses.

What is ruderalis used for?

Today, ruderalis seeds are mostly used for cross-breeding to create hybrids that carry auto-flowering and hardy traits.

Cannabis growers can produce a variety of THC-rich strains that provide recreational users with the buzz they need while providing crops that require little maintenance.

Considering its CBD levels, this is a preferred cultivar for those not phased about the psychoactive properties but would rather tap into its healing benefits.

feminized or autoflowering which is better?

What are the best ruderalis indica strains?

Aside from the useful auto-flowering traits in ruderalis, these crops don’t offer much to the cannabis sphere. Growers started using these qualities to cross them with indica strains and create resilient hybrids with satisfying effects.

Below are two of the best ruderalis indica strains:

Northern Lights auto

  • Genetics: Northern Lights x Ruderalis
  • Flowering time: 8–9 weeks
  • THC levels: 12–14%

Northern Lights auto adapts well to any growing environment, thanks to its ruderalis traits drawn in from the genetic pool. They mature into small, medium-sized crops and can produce generous yields of 16 oz./m2 indoors and at 5 feet tall a yield of 4 oz./plant outdoors.

Use as a nighttime toke because of its heavy sedative and relaxing effects. While your body is overwhelmed with feelings of tranquility, enjoy the sweet and spicy notes with every inhale.

Northern Lights auto strain
Northern Lights auto strain

Super Skunk autoflower

  • Genetics: Superskunk x Northern Lights x Ruderalis
  • Flowering time: 7–8 weeks
  • THC Levels: 14–19%

If you’re looking for a strain that’ll give you a relaxing high and have you locked to the couch, then Super Skunk autoflower is the one for you. This indica dominant hybrid with ruderalis ancestry allows the crops to grow in any environment.

For indoor growing, they’re perfect for the Screen of Green (SOG) system due to their short stature. Indoors they provide a yield of 19 oz./m², and outdoors it’s up to 7 oz./plant.

The ruderalis nugs are big and dense and omit a strong skunky smell with sweet hints. Shortly after a toke, prepare yourself for a quick body high with euphoric-like feelings that are suddenly overpowered by intense relaxed, and sedative effects.

Super Skunk autoflower
Super Skunk autoflower buds

What are the best ruderalis sativa strains?

Crossing ruderalis with sativa strains brings you a shorter plant with increased tolerance to environmental changes and a sped-up flowering time.

Below are two of the best ruderalis sativa strains:

Amnesia Haze autoflower

  • Genetics: Amnesia Haze x Ruderalis
  • Flowering time: 8–9 weeks
  • THC Levels: 16–17%

A toke from Amnesia Haze autoflower is an excellent choice if you need creative encouragement. Combining it with ruderalis seeds has produced a smaller plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors and thrive in any setting.

In an indoor location, these ruderalis weed plants will present yields of up to 14 oz./m². Outdoors expect a yield of 11 oz./plant.

The effects are nothing short of invigorating for the body and mind. Delight yourself in inspirational, creative, and intensive euphoric feelings. 

As soon as these ruderalis nugs are lit up, your surroundings are captivated by a citrusy fragrance combined with delicately infused sweet, sour and spicy notes. Tantalize the taste buds with sharp citrus flavors and an exhale of smooth sweet smoke.

Amnesia Haze autoflower
Amnesia Haze autoflower feminized

Grapefruit autoflower

  • Genetics: Grapefruit x Ruderalis
  • Flowering time: 7–8 weeks
  • THC Levels: 16–19%

Two strong sativa strains created Grapefruit autoflower. With a lineage that goes back to Cinderella 99 for its cerebral high and an unknown sativa contributing its grapefruit flavors, you can start your day with feel-good effects.

This ruderalis weed matures fast and is a great first-time strain for novice growers. This bushy plant provides mint green leaves and light green buds covered in sparkly trichomes showing off their potency.

When growing Grapefruit auto indoors, it’s best to keep the humidity levels below 50% to prevent mold and mildew buildup. Replicating a Mediterranean climate would be the ideal indoor setup with temperatures of 70–80℉.

Yield production is an average of 18 oz./m² indoors, and it’s best to use the SOG system. Outdoors you can reap a yield of up to 10 oz./ plant.

The effects from these ruderalis weed plants give you full-blown courage to take the day on with a positive, uplifting attitude. Soothing feelings overcome your body with a gentle headstone that ignites the creativity within you. Nothing overwhelming, just pure bliss.

The fragrances you get from your toke are grapefruit-infused citrus notes that linger in the air after each exhale. The flavors bring in sweet, and sour tropical grape notes that you can enjoy with every puff.

Grapefruit auto
Grapefruit auto feminized

Strayed auto stayed 

A once forgotten plant—ruderalis strains are becoming more sought-after with the advent of powerful auto-flowering strains. 

The nugs from pure-bred crops don’t offer much to recreational users. Combining them with other strains produces robust plants with enough cannabinoid properties to satisfy tokers.

Auto-flowering characteristics from ruderalis weed plants allow cultivators to appreciate short flowering times and faster yield production with their crops.  

Crossing paths with Homegrown Cannabis Co. will lead you to the only seed store that offers you the best ruderalis crossed strains.


About the author: Derek LaRose

Also known as Kronic from The Cannabis Kronicles, Derek LaRose is a young ambitious cultivator and a staple educator for indoor cultivation.

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