Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Lam.) Persoon, Synopsis Plantarum 2: 618, 1807.

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. indica (Lam.) Persoon, Synopsis Plantarum 2: 618, 1807.


Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Lam.) Persoon, Synopsis Plantarum 2: 618, 1807.   Figure 4a View Figure 4

Cannabis indica   Lamarck, Encyclopédie Méthodique 1(2): 694-695, 1785 Basionym. See McPartland (1992) for justification of citing Persoon as the authority in the comb. nov, not Wehmer as treated in Small and Cronquist (1976).

C. sativa var. indica   (Lam.) Fristedt, Upsala Läkareförenings Förhandlingar 5: 504, 1869-1870.

C. sativa f. indica   (Lam.) Voss in Siebert & Voss, Vilmorin’s Blumengärtnerei 1: 912, 1896.

C. sativa var. indica   (Lam.) Wehmer, Die Pflanzenstoffe p. 248, 1911.

= C. sativa var. indica   Blume, Bijdragen tot de flora van Nederlandsch Indië, p. 515, 1825.

= C. macrosperma   Stokes, Botanical Materia Medica 4: 539, 1812.

C. sativa   B macrosperma   (Stokes) Ascherson & Graebner, Synopsis Mitteleuropäischen Flora 4: 599, 1911.

C. sativa var. macrosperma   (Stokes) Chevalier, Revue de Botanique Appliquée et d’Agriculture Coloniale 24: 64, 1944.

= C. sativa   γ crispata Hasskarl, Neuer Schlüssel zu Rumph’s Herbarium amboinense p. 112, 1886.

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

= C. americana   Houghton & Hamilton, Proc. Am. Pharm. Assoc. 55: 445, 1907, nomen nudum.

C. americana   Wehmer, Die Pflanzenstoffe, 2: 157, 1911, nomen nudum.

= C. madagascar   Pearson, Proc. Penna. Pharm. Assoc. 1909: 179, 1909, nomen nudum.

= C. africana   Glickman, Mulford’s Veterinary Bulletin 4(2): 88, 1912, nomen nudum.

C. sativa var. africana   Wehmer, Die Pflanzenstoffe 2: 39, 1935.

= C. mexicana   Stanley, Am. J. Police Science 2(3): 252, 1931, nomen nudum.


India, likely Pondicherry, Lamarck, no date, annotated "Chanvre rapporte de l’Inde par M. Sonnerat" (herb. P). Most of Pierre Sonnerat’s herbarium specimens at herb. P were collected around Pondicherry between 1775 and 1778.


Plants with THC% ≥0.3% in inflorescence and a THC/CBD ratio always ≥7, often much more; central leaflet length:width ratio ≥6 in fan leaves near the base of inflorescences; mature achenes usually ≥ 3.6 mm long, the perianth mostly sloughed off, lacking a prominent protuberant base, and lacking a well-developed abscission zone that allows easy disarticulation.


Plants usually >2.0 m tall (shorter in inhospitable situations). Central stem (stalk) internodes relatively long (often >12 cm, shorter in shorter plants), somewhat hollow (up to 1/3 stem diameter). Branches flexible, diverging from the stalk at relatively acute angles (around 45°). Leaf palmately compound, largest leaves typically with at least 7 leaflets, leaflet edges not overlapping. Central leaflet long and narrow, lanceolate or linear-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); mostly sloughed off but sometimes persistent. Achene, usually ≥ 3.6 mm long, globose to elongate, exocarp green-brown; abscission zone poorly developed.


Dried female inflorescences: THC ≥0.3%, in late 20th century accessions, nearly always >1.0%; literature weighted x¯ = 3.97%, up to 12.5%. THC/CBD ratio ≥7, and often >100. THCV is commonly present, especially in landraces from South Asia and Africa. Hillig and Mahlberg (2004) report THCV+CBDV% content x¯ = 0.25%. Terpenoid profile often imparts an “herbal” or “sweet” aroma, with terpinolene, β -caryophyllene, trans- β -farnesene, and a -guaiene content significantly higher than Central Asian plants.


Landraces of South Asian heritage segregated from Central Asian landraces in an allozyme analysis ( Hillig 2005a) and cpDNA haplotype study ( Gilmore et al. 2007). “Sativa” and “Indica” were segregated with STR loci ( Knight et al. 2010), RAPD markers ( Piluzza et al. 2013), and nDNA SNP haplotypes ( Henry 2015; Lynch et al. 2016). Other studies showed little or no genetic differences between “Sativa” and “Indica” ( Sawler et al. 2015; Dufresnes et al. 2017), or their phenotypes matched poorly with their purported genotypes ( Schwabe and McGlaughlin 2018).

Other characters.

Generally late maturing; monoecious plants relatively common compared to the other varieties; susceptible to black mildew caused by Schiffnerula cannabis   .

Provenance and uses.

Originally cultivated in India for gañjā, and spread at an early date to southeast Asia, Africa, and the Americas.