Middle East

Middle Eastern landraces. Traditional subsp. indica domesticates (“landraces”) from the Middle East are quite close to the archetypal Indica. Often early maturing dwarf or semi-dwarf crops, their architecture tends toward either being single-stem or heavily branched. Central fan-leaflet width ranges from narrow to broad, though usually to the narrower end of the spectrum. Aficionados often view them as fast, compact Sativas.

For subsp. indica, the Middle East comprises a distinct zone, roughly from Iran to the Mediterranean, including Turkey and Egypt. It’s overlooked in popular and academic understanding of Cannabis botany. In its widest sense, it encompasses the traditional domesticates of the Balkans and North Africa, including Greece and Morocco. Their shared traits could perhaps be explained by the historic diffusion of hashish culture out of Central Asia in the early thirteenth century. Following the Mongol conquests, hashish – in its general sense of cannabis, not resin per se – rapidly went from relative obscurity across the Middle East to mass popularity as far westward as Islamic Spain. Additionally, by the nineteenth century, Levantine smuggling networks were supplying seed and techniques to hashish farmers around the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Middle East is likely to have long been a zone of hybridization between the two formal domesticated varieties of subsp. indica, namely var. indica (Sativas) and var. afghanica (Indicas).

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