Cannabis mutations are due to genes being modified or altered naturally or by man. Just like any living thing, cannabis needs to meet a certain set of standards regarding genetics, such as leaf shape, color, structure, germination, seeds, flowering, shape of the buds, aroma… In this article we’re going to talk about the strangest cannabis mutations that you can find in the world of cannabis.
A few years ago the legend of albino cannabis was started; long white buds that made resin much more visually attractive started appearing online on forums and social media, creating an uproar in the community. Albinism isn’t new, and occurs in both humans and animals; it occurs when there’s a lack of a pigment called melanin and it can affect eyes, skin and hair. In the world of plants it works differently; instead of melanin, plants can lack in carotenes, organic pigments that are related to the photosynthetic process. This means that 100% albino plants can’t exist, as photosynthesis is a process that is elemental to their survival and without any carotenes at all, photosynthesis can’t be done.
Albinism is apparent in cannabis in both the buds and the foliage; these plants are quite eye-catching due to their lack of coloring and chlorophyll. It can’t be confused with discoloration due to grow lights being too close; what really happens is that the irradiation from the bulbs degrades the chlorophyll in the plants because the bulbs intensity is much too high for the plant, in turn burning the photo-pigments. This makes for some nice visual effects but affects the vigor of the plant and usually causes them to reduce their yield drastically. Albinism can manifest from germination, which almost instantly kills the plant. It can also manifest during the growth and flowering periods. It’s believed that albino plants that reach flowering and manage to stay alive will trap nutrients and other feed, preventing other plants around it from getting them (if you have a watering system that filters through the plants simultaneously).
Apart from albino plants, you can also find “creeping” cannabis plants; these plants grow one meter tall and then tend to grow sideways rather than up, as if all of the sun was hitting it sideways; if planted outdoors, these plants will creep along the ground and root where it can. This kind of mutation is generally found in sativas rather than indicas.
We can also find plants that, instead of having two genes they have three. This manifests itself right from germination, when three leaves sprout instead of two. These plants grow many more leaves than normal plants, and you might be thinking that more leaves equals more yield but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. This mutation isn’t very common.
Buds that sprout from leaves is another fortunate mutation, where at the joining point for all of the tips of a leaf, a little bud may sprout, covered in resin just like the rest. The causes of this particular mutation are as of yet unknown, but it’s happening more often and is being investigated, as finding the secret of this mutation may lead to higher yielding plants.
Another important mutation we wish we could replicate is that of polyploidy; living beings are usually diploids (two sets of genes, xx – xy) and we just talked about triploids, (xxy – xxx – xyy) but polyploidy means that plants can acquire many more chromosomes, turning them into absolute giants. These plants are generally sterile, and even crossing two of these monsters can’t manage to create another one. These massive plants tend to grow much faster than their sisters; the branches are usually in groups of four in each internode, making for more foliage and many more buds. Rather than colas, they grow into massive, gigantic balls of bud. These plants need special taking care of so that the buds don’t rot due to their density.
Beginners luck is something we’ve all heard of, and it can happen to anyone. One out of every 10000 seeds can have a mutation that causes them to create twin plants; two plants from just one seed. This is not common in the world of plants but it works in a similar manner to humans; there are two embryos in the seed, and one tends to be weaker than the other but this doesn’t mean that it’s going to die, you’ll just need to take better care of it. The best moment to separate them is after germinating, before moving them to soil or substrate. You’ll need to separate the roots patiently and with extreme care, as they’re usually quite intertwined, and once that is done you can plant them in two different pots and go about your grow as normal. These seeds are called polyembryonic, completely different from Siamese seeds, which are two plants with just one root.
In Australia there is a curious cannabis mutation called the Australian Bastard Cannabis. It’s not known where this plant came from, but the mutation is present in the leaves and it’s thought that the shape of the leaves helps it put up with the cold in the Sidney Mountains. This strain doesn’t have much THC and isn’t specially known for its aroma or flavor, rather than for its different shape. It’s the perfect plant for guerilla grows or discreet garden grows as it looks nothing like a cannabis plant until it begins flowering. The original and different shape of the leaves make it perfect if you don’t want prying eyes to know that you’re growing cannabis, and Dutch seed banks have already included seeds like these in their catalogues for those that go guerilla grows.
One of the biggest legends or myths on cannabis mutations is an absolute shocker; underwater cannabis, the most discreet cannabis to ever have existed. It’s said that this cannabis can be found in salt water, and looks more like algae than cannabis but it has a low concentration of THC and produces female flowers, making it illegal all the same in many countries. The flowers have resin, which isn’t soluble, so technically it’s still viable as cannabis. If this legend is true, it’s amazing how this plant has adapted from oxygenic photosynthesis to anoxigenic photosynthesis and is able to live under the water. The discovery was made in Chile in 2016, and the strain was named “Amiga de Pescador” in honor of the fisherman that found it. Not much else is known about this mutation, so it might be a hoax or maybe not, we can only guess.
Author: Fabio Inga
Translator: Ciara Murphy