Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. himalayensis (Cazzuola) McPartl. & E.Small

McPartland, John M. & Small, Ernest, 2020, A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives, PhytoKeys 144, pp. 81-112: 81

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Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. himalayensis (Cazzuola) McPartl. & E.Small


Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. himalayensis (Cazzuola) McPartl. & E.Small   Figure 4b View Figure 4

Cannabis sativa var. hymalaiensis   Cazzuola, Il Regno vegetale tessili e tintoriale, p. 49, 1875 (misspelling corrected apud ICN Article 60.1) Basionym.

C. sativa var. hymalaiensis   Cazzuola, Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano 5: 262, 1873, nomen nudum.

C. sativa var. himalayensis   Cazzuola, Dizionario di botanica, p. 105, 1876 (later homonym).

= C. sativa var. himalayensis   Koch, Annales des Sciences Naturelles Botanique (Series 4) 1: 352, 1854, nomen nudum.

= C. sativa   β vulgaris de Candolle, Prodromus 16(1):31, 1869 (en part, based on plants growing spontaneous in northern India and Burma).

= C. sativa   α indica f. montana   Fristedt, Upsala Läkareförenings Förhandlingar 5: 507, 1869- 1870, nomen nudum.

= C. himalyana   Zinger, Flora oder Allgemeine Botanische Zeitung 85: 207, 1898, nomen nudum.

= C. sativa subsp. indica sect. spontanea var. spontanea   Clarke, Cannabis   Evolution p. 224, 1987, nomen invalidum.


Designated herein, INDIA: Himachal Pradesh, Shimla or Kinnaur ("Himalaya Boreal. Occident., Regio Temp."), T. Thompson, 1847 (GH). No himalayensis   specimens exist in the herbaria of Cazzuola or Koch (pers. communications, Lucia Amadei, herb. PI; Robert Vogt, herb. B). Thompson’s specimen was designated as neotype because it represents the best of several collections he made in the Himalaya. It was distributed as an exsiccatum, with duplicates at several herbaria, providing isoneotypes (BM! K! LE! US!).


Plants with THC% ≥0.3% in inflorescence and a THC/CBD ratio often ≥7, sometimes less; central leaflet length:width ratio ≥6 in fan leaves near the base of inflorescences; mature achenes usually <3.6 mm long, with a persistent perianth and a protuberant base, and readily disarticulating from plant by a well-developed abscission zone.


Plants 1.0-3.0 m tall. Central stem (stalk) internodes relatively long (often >10 cm, shorter in shorter plants), somewhat hollow (up to 1/2 stem diameter). Branches flexible, diverging from the stalk at relatively acute angles (around 45°). Leaf palmately compound, larger leaves usually with at least 7 leaflets, leaflet edges not overlapping. Central leaflet long and narrow, lanceolate in shape; margins with moderately coarse serrations, and rare secondary serrations. Female inflorescence (and infructescence) elongated and somewhat diffuse, with relatively obscure sugar leaves (a high perigonal bract-to-leaf index). Sugar leaves with CSGTs limited to the proximal half. Perigonal bract covered with a moderate density of CSGTs. Perianth membranous, hyaline with pigmented areas (brown and mottled or marbled in appearance); always persistent. Achene usually <3.6 mm long, exocarp green-brown; with an elongated base and abscission zone that is relatively narrow.


Dried female inflorescences: THC ≥0.3% (although two studies report plants with THC <0.3%); weighted x¯ = 1.49%, range between 0.06% and 9.3%. THC/CBD ratios vary; two studies (those with THC <0.3%), who shared accessions, reported ratios of only 1.28 and 1.56; these accessions may represent East Asian fiber-type domesticates that reacquired wild-type traits. Ratios in other studies are >10, even >100. THC content and THC/CBD ratios are skewed by THCV%+CBDV%, which is higher than any other variety: x¯ = 0.90% ( Hillig and Mahlberg 2004). The terpenoid profile is similar to that of var. indica   , except for higher levels of β -myrcene, cis -ocimene, and β -caryophyllene.


Allozyme analysis ( Hillig 2005a) partially segregated wild-type accessions from South Asian domesticates. He proposed that wild-type accessions from the Himalaya represented the ancestral source of South Asian domesticates.

Other characters.

Generally late maturing; achenes fall from plant at maturity. Bast fiber content (as a percent of stalk dry weight) in Himalayan plants is higher than plants grown exclusively for drugs in southern India ( Bredemann 1952; de Meijer 1994).

Provenance and uses.

Wild-growing (possibly indigenous) populations occur throughout montane India, Nepal, and Bhutan, where they are harvested for bast fiber (stalks), bhāng (leaves), hand-rubbed charas (hashīsh), or achenes (seeds). Achenes in some herbarium specimens from the Himalaya were relatively large with a reduced abscission mechanism, indicating the presence of genes from domesticated plants.

Basionym notes.

Cazzuola spelled the epithet himalayensis   variously between 1873 and 1876. His earliest publication did not provide a clear diagnosis, a nomen nudum, not validly published (ICN Art. 38.2, Turland 2018). Koch also proposed a taxon himalayensis   without a clear diagnosis, and he equated it with the South Asian domesticate - an erroneous concept.