I saw a report saying there were at least 8,673 marijuana strain names. Many are variations of each other and provide little if any useful information to growers. What does a marijuana strain name mean, really?

As a grower, you hope it means a lot. If an apple farmer wants to grow Red Delicious apples he buys Red Delicious orchard stock. But if his first harvest gives him Macintosh apples instead, he’ll be pissed.

The same thing happens a lot in the marijuana industry—we’ve talked before about ripoffs in the marijuana seeds world.

So how did marijuana strain names come into existence?

Geographic origin of original genetics has a big influence on strain names. It was only 65 years ago that modern-era cannabis lovers started traveling the world gathering landrace and locally-bred unicorn cannabis cultivars.

These cannabis genetics pioneers noticed that strains from specific geographic regions had similar phenotypic, genotypic and psychoactive traits. Strain names including Afghani, Colombian, Thai, Oaxacan, and Jamaican indicate where the strain is from, and what a grower can expect from it.

Also, strain names are often based on a specific trait or traits associated with a strain. These traits include…

  • Scent while growing.
  • Scent and taste while consuming.
  • Perceived potency.
  • Type of high and medical effects.
  • Harvest yield potential.
  • Resin gland concentration.
  • THC and other cannabinoid percentages.
  • Growing characteristics, such as bloom phase duration or outdoor harvest time.
  • Morphology characteristics such as color of leaves or buds, plant shape, Indica v Sativa, etc.
  • Place of origin.
  • Strain named in honor of a famous cannabis hero or other celebrity.

You can now analyze your favorite strains and see how strain names are indicators of at least one if not more of these traits.

Lemon Skunk, for example, smells like lemons and skunks and is assumed to be in the “Skunk” family of marijuana genetics.

“Big Bud” or “Cash Crop” strain names indicate massive yields. Hashplant is one of the simplest, most easily understood strain names, signaling the strain produces unusually high resin gland density so it’s great for making hashish.

Gorilla Glue, a name that now can’t be “legally” used by marijuana seeds companies due to copyright infringement lawsuits from the manufacturer of Gorilla Glue adhesive, was named because the strain’s resins contain a particular set of waxes and other substances that glue your manicuring scissors together.

Bubble Gum marijuana, a perennial Dutch favorite, was named that because the original breeders noticed plants that smelled exactly like Bubble Gum and had a high that gummed up your head.

White Widow got its name from the frosty “white” look of  its resin-encrusted flowers, and Early Girl was named because she was ready to harvest faster than most other strains growing outdoors in Holland at the time.

Jack Herer. Well, anyone can realize it was named for famed cannabis activist Jack Herer, god rest his soul.

Sour Diesel, of course, smells like sour lemons and diesel fuel. Chocolate Diesel smells like chocolate, and diesel fuel. Weasel Diesel smells like weasels and diesel fuel. Vin Diesel smells like Hollywood and Axe body sweat.

When it comes to understanding strain names that are at least partially based on psychoactive effects, you gotta be high.

For example, Blue Dream refers to the tint of the strain’s leaves, but the “Dream” part, who the hell knows? I don’t feel “dreamy” when I smoke Blue Dream, I feel depressed. I guess that’s why they should call it The Blues, Elton John said.

AK-47 was named because it was so strong it felt like being shot down and incapacitated. Thus, the connection with the AK-47 machine gun. Trust me, this all makes sense when you’re really high.

Humboldt Headband originated in famed Humboldt County, and when you get high with it, it feels like somebody puts a headband on your head and tightens it too much so your cerebrum explodes.

Trainwreck refers to a train that wrecked right near the outdoor grow op where the strain was created in California, and also that you feel “wrecked” after you inhale Trainwreck.

Other strain names don’t much indicate anything that makes a difference to a grower. They’re just poetry. Such as the world’s best commercial pure Sativa strain: Kali Mist. Is the strain originally from the mythical island of Kali? Is it “misty?” Nobody seems to know for sure why this strain name was chosen.

Fortunately, it’s easy to understand that Acapulco Gold and Colombian Gold indicate strains that came from those two Latin American locales, and their buds tend to have a golden color. Panama Red was originally sourced in Panama and the buds are reddish-brown when ripe.

But how about the famous Cinderella 99 cannabis strain? You might assume the strain debuted in 1999, was the 99th version of a breeding program, or it had to be a home by midnight or it would turn into a pumpkin.

We were talking recently with Sir Simon, the legendary but humble, visionary, intellectual Dutch cannabis seeds guru and role model for mega-massive Dutch martial arts champion Rico Verhoeven. Simon founded Serious Seeds in Amsterdam decades ago, and today it’s one of only two heritage Dutch marijuana seed companies worth giving your money to.

We asked Simon why he named his new strain “Serious Happiness.”

He explained that the strain “produces happiness.” Not generically, but specifically. You’re happy when you grow it because it looks good, grows easy, smells like pepper and sugar, and you’re happy when you get high with it, he said.

“When you use it, it automatically puts a smile on your face, it brings immediate happiness,” he explained. “This is a strain that transports you into bliss.”

How do you verify a claim like that? From subjective experience. When I first started growing and using Simon’s Serious Happiness strain, no matter what mood I was in before I hit the Serious Happiness, it had two predictable effects: it made me smile a goofy smile and it made me feel relieved.

Relieved about everything. Blissful, perhaps. Simon was absolutely correct in choosing that strain name.

The only specifically-named marijuana aphrodisiac strain is Purple Panty Dropper. Apparently, the breeder found that people wearing purple panties were quick to drop them after hitting the strain.

Or perhaps the name indicates that the strain was bred with Grape and Purple Haze genetics and also makes you horny.

Or that if you were carrying purple panties, and got high on this strain, you were likely to stumble and drop them. No matter–it’s still a hot strain name.

Remember that many strain names are just made up by the seed or clone seller and have no relevance to strain genetics or traits. It could be that the seller is shilling bulk seeds, is not a breeder, and has no idea what the strains are.

Or maybe they got high and too “creative.” Strain names such as Washing Machine, Flap Jacks, Hot Sauce, Elliot’s Sister, Malibu Marsha, Angel Heart, Baby Rabbit, Ghouls and Ghosts, Aspirare, Smog, Albert Supertramp, The Mission, Secret Formula, and many others are so cryptic and nonsensical as to be useless.

Or how about “Kosher Kush?” I mean, for sure, I get it–it’s a Kush marijuana strain.

But how is it Kosher? Did a rabbi specifically affirm that, or is this just some clueless gentile trying to claim Kosher? People in Tel Aviv want to know. As Moses said in the Old Testament, “Thou shalt not use the name Kosher unless the Kush really is Kosher. Thus sayeth the Lord.”

Sometimes a puzzling strain name suddenly makes sense after you read the strain description. For example, New420Guy Seeds named their strain 3-Run Homer because it’s a beautiful cross of three winner strains: Fruity Pebbles OG, Bruce Banner 3, and Granddaddy Purps. This Homer is a high-yielding, high-potency THC-rich home run.

When you’re shopping for cannabis varietals, now you know the strain name can be decoded (if it is a meaningful strain created by a serious professional cannabis breeder) so you get valuable information about the strain.

Whenever possible, contact the original breeder of a strain, and ask why they named the strain the way they did. I’m still waiting for the breeder to explain why he named his 30% THC strain “Jelly Rancher.”

After trying it, I think it’s because your brain turns to jelly when you use it!