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Cannabis Strain Names: How Are Strains Named?

If you’ve set foot in a dispensary recently, you know that cannabis strain names can get pretty wild. It may even seem like cannabis cultivators are actively trying to come up with the craziest names in the book. In general, there actually is a system behind naming—albeit a loose one—and in this guide, we’ll teach you everything you want to know about how cannabis strains get their names, including:

  • Where Did Original Strains Get Their Names?
  • How Are Strains Named Today?
  • Do Names Accurately Describe The Strain?
  • FAQs About Strain Names

Where Did Original Strains Get Their Names?

The original marijuana strains, also called landrace strains, are strains that grew wild in certain areas around the world and were cultivated for reasons that include medicine, religious practices, and eventually, recreational purposes. Landrace strains are typically named after the area they’re found. For example, Columbian Gold is found in Columbia, and Durban Poison grows in Durban, South Africa.

These OG cannabis strains are named to pay homage to the geography that allowed them to naturally flourish. From them, we have a whole variety of hybrids with their own naming conventions.

How Are Marijuana Strains Named Today?

There are a variety of methods cultivators use to come up with names for marijuana strains. While there is no set naming convention, these are the most common naming strategies we see in the industry:

By Parent Strains

Some cannabis strains are named according to their lineage. For example, if the strain Blueberry is crossed with White Widow, the child strain is named Berry White. Another cultivar with a funny strain name, Fly, comes from the parent plants Florida Kush and The Y.

By Physical Attributes

If you’ve ever partaken in White Widow, you know why it gets its name: it has a visible coating of crystal white trichomes. When marijuana flower is identifiable in this way, it is easy to come up with a great strain name. This is also how Purple Kush got its name—its buds have a deep, rich violet shade.

By Terpenes/Flavor Characteristics

There are some strains that just happen to have strong flavors and aromas, thanks to their terpene profile. Cultivators can’t help but name these strains after those characteristics, and that’s how you get Sour Diesel, Banana Kush, and Strawberry Cough.

By Cognitive Effects

Blue Dream, Purple Haze, Trainwreck, and Lucid Blue all get their names for a reason—cannabis enthusiasts report certain effects that leave them feeling hazy, dreamy, or just plain couch locked. There are plenty of strains like this out there, so be sure to do your research before purchasing if there’s a particular sensation you prefer to avoid when consuming cannabis and that effect happens to be in the name of the strain.

By Cannabis Activist or Icon Namesake

There are some strains named after influential people within the marijuana industry. For example, Jack Herer was a cannabis activist and earned the honor of having his name on one of the most popular sativa-leaning hybrids around. You’ll also find strains named after celebrities who provide financial backing or other resources to develop the strain.

Curious about the names of some of the strongest marijuana strains? Check out our guide.

Do Strain Names Accurately Describe the Experience, Smell, and Taste?

The answer to whether strain names accurately depict the experience, smell, and taste of the cannabis is not as straightforward as you might hope. In general, if a strain has the word “lemon” in the name, you can assume you’re in for a citrusy flavor, just like if it has “diesel” in the name, it likely smells like you just finished pumping a tank of gas.

Here’s the problem though: everyone is different. While you might smell floral notes in your marijuana, someone else may feel like it leans more fruity. While you may experience couch lock when consuming cannabis, someone else may feel energized. Because of this, we recommend trying a variety of products and strains. When you find one you like, for its flavor, aroma, and effects, you can add it to your personalized list—and then you can decide if the name matches your experience.

Check out our list of the funniest marijuana strain names.

FAQs About Strain Names

There is much confusion around how strains get their names. Here are a few of our most commonly asked questions.

Who names marijuana strains?
Cannabis strain names typically come from the cultivators who breed and grow the plants.

Can marijuana strains change their name?
They can, but most cannabis cultivators are more interested in creating new strains than changing tried-and-true names. The strain Blue Dream is recognized among many cannabis enthusiasts–changing the name would put marketability at risk.

What are the most common marijuana strain names?
You’ll find some similarities when it comes to strain names. Words like “OG,” “Haze,” and “Kush” are often incorporated into strain names, either to denote lineage or simply to increase recognition.

Find the Perfect Strain for You

For some cannabis enthusiasts, when shopping for marijuana, the strain name is literally the name of the game. They enjoy trying strains based on the characteristics that give them their moniker, whether it be a physical characteristic, a terpene, or an influential pop icon. If you’re interested in checking out the many strains (and their names) available near you, be sure to visit a dispensary.

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.