Have you ever wondered how your favorite weed strains got named?

Published May 11, 2019 10:32 a.m. ET
Photo Credit Chad Hipolito

Cannabis is a beautiful species of plant that goes by many different names that each sport their own unique qualities. Most people assume that the official label on weed strains that are carefully cultivated by marijuana breeders hold some sort of relevance, even if they aren’t quite sure of any true origin stories behind the infamous names themselves. The truth is that the labeling of different species of marijuana plants has evolved over the years, and some of the most popular weed strains on the planet today do not have a meaning that is overly relevant to the average consumer.

Here we will touch on the historical methods that were used when different species of cannabis were still being discovered, as well as some of the new age angles that marijuana breeders are taking right now.

The original landrace weed strains (Prior to 1960)

Landrace marijuana strains are the true original feral genetic lines from all around the world. When cannabis plants were first being discovered in various regions, they were primarily named after something relevant to the area. Afghan Kush, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Columbian Gold, and Durban Poison are just a few of the most well-known regionally connected weed strain names.

Other methods used to name cannabis strains (1960-2000)

As the many different genetic lines of landrace strains were combined by marijuana breeders, the titles, for the most part, represented a mixture of both parent plants. This made it easy to keep track of and remember which weed strains had been cross bred resulting in a product that was appealing for either larger yields, pest resistance, or experimentation. Some even happened by accident during a cross contamination of a grow operation. A few examples include:

Berry White - This marijuana strain is the result of breeding White Widow and Blueberry together.

Suicide Girl - Parent genetics of this strain include Poison OG and the infamous Girl Scout Cookies.

Dr. Who- A combination of the genetics from Timewreckand Mad Scientist.

How are most weed strains labelled today?

Now that marijuana genetics have been cross bred multiple times over, the original landrace strains have essentially died out, so choosing a regional name just wouldn’t make any sense. On top of the loss of confidence in original plant genetics, it is not uncommon for a specialty bred cannabis species to have at least four other strain parents. Quirky and meaningful names based on lineage have now become quite difficult to come by, pushing marijuana breeders to come up with new and unique ideas for naming their weed strains. Many of which focus on marketing technique rather than quality or any other aspect of the species.


Some weed strains are names after their outer appearances. Grandaddy Purple, Green Crack, Blue Diamond, Purple God, Fruity Pebbles, and Ice are all perfect examples of cannabis plant’s that were named for their physical look.

By taste


True cannabis connoisseurs will often have a preferred group of flavors that they enjoy, and some marijuana breeders have taken advantage of that with subtle titles like Chocolate Thunder, Blueberry Kush, Honey Bananas, Sweet Tooth, Cream Caramel, and Orange Bud which all perfectly describe the taste that will experience when growing, smoking, or eating the product.


Other marijuana breeders prefer to take a different perspective and choose a memorable name that describes the way that it smells when it is grown and burnt. Names like Stink Sac, Cat Piss, Sour Diesel, and Super Skunk were all meant to warn consumers about the stronger smells that are emitted from those plants.


One of the most significant factors for consumers and growers to consider when selecting a weed strain is the average cannabinoid profile of any one kind. Names that include words like Butter, Air, or Bubba tend to indicate a lower potency, while others like Ghost OG, Haze, Chemdawg, The White, and Death Star all got their titles thanks to incredibly high amounts of THC.


Many people would assume that weed is likely names after its original creators, but sometimes marijuana breeders want to pay homage to someone who is special in their lives. Agent Orange and Charlotte's Web were both titles in honor of brave souls and patients.

Celebrity status

Khalifa Kush, Andretti OG, Lucinda Williams, Marley’s Collie, and Ray Charles are all weed strains named after celebrities who either created the breeds or were idolized by those that did.

Other branding

Now that marijuana legalization has taken hold across much of the western world, many companies are investing in marijuana breeders and already selecting names that they feel will fit their brand rather than the herb itself.

Though the future looks bright for the cannabis industry and consumers going forward, the time is coming to an end where the name of your product really means anything relevant anymore. At least not to the consumers who use strains they already know of to choose new options that are currently available. It looks like producers and marijuana dispensaries are going to have to find new ways to advertise what each new breed of cannabis has to offer.



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