How do cannabis seeds work? Learn how to store your seeds, how long you can store them for, how to germinate them and their internal biology. From the Asian steppes where Cannabis sativa plants first evolved, to prehistoric hunters and gatherers, ancient China, Viking ships and finally the Americas, a new report outlines marijuana’s history
How do Cannabis Seeds Work
How do cannabis seeds work? You might not think that this is important, but knowing how seeds work can give you important insight on how to store them and what the germination profess involved. Cannabis seeds are technically small, oval-shaped dried fruit, around 3-4mm long and 1.5-2mm wide. They’re covered in a very subtle membrane, and underneath that layer there’s a much harder layer which is the largest system of the embryo, covering it and protecting it.
On the inside of the seeds you can find a substance called albumen, which is a nutritional reserve that keeps the embryo healthy until germination; it’s also the seeds initial source of energy once it begins germinating.
Now, for the center of the seed, home to the precious embryo from which your new plant will grow from. It contains the plant’s genetic code alongside four other parts; the radicle, the hypocotyl, cotyledons and gemmules. The radicle is the embryonic root; this is the part of the seed where roots come from. The hypocotyl is known as the embryonic stage, and the cotyledons are in charge of those first few leaves that you can see once the seed germinates.
Cannabis seeds, just like many other plant seeds, grow in pollinated flowers on female plants; seeds only contain the plant’s genetic code, so they don’t have any of the active principals in the plant, meaning that if you were to smoke it you wouldn’t get any sort of psychoactive or medicinal effect. They can be eaten however, as they provide an enormous amount of beneficial proteins, including Omega 3, 6 and 9. The aroma that comes from the seeds when burning isn’t pleasant at all, and if you’ve ever been smoking a joint that had a random seed in it then you know exactly what I’m talking about; they taste like some sort of burnt barbecue that ruins the taste of even the best, strongest tasting weed out there.
Germinating seeds correctly depends on different factors; the main one being how mature the seed is. Seeds that look too white, green or the skin seems to be coming off or not there at all tend to be too young still, although there are seeds of this stature that will germinate perfectly, depending on the strain. Strains like Somango, or hybrids that come from it, and Haze seeds are some of the whitest seeds you can find on the market; sativa seeds tend to be much smaller than indica seeds, like Thai seeds are generally much smaller than afghan seeds. In this case, size doesn’t matter at all; if a seed is smaller than others that doesn’t mean that it’s going to have issues germinating or that it will grow smaller plants. Smaller seeds generally have less protection, but they’re much easier to germinate. Seeds can take between 3-18 days to germinate depending on the conditions such as temperature, humidity, substrate composition etc. The longer the seeds take to germinate, the less likely that they are going to germinate. Sometimes if after a while it still hasn’t germinated, you can gently squeeze the seed to break the outer shell and if done right, you can help the root to leave the shell; if done wrong, you’ll end up completely squishing the seed and any chances of germination that it had.
During the time the seed is maturing various factors need to occur for the seed to be able to germinate in the best conditions. Seeds have a germination period of three years, which is the average time estimated that seeds can be kept in good conditions; it’s not the same to keep your seed in a fresh, dry area than in a hot and humid one. Humid areas will damage seeds, stimulating their metabolism with the humidity without stimulating germination which could even kill the seed off entirely. Water absorption is due to the water potential difference between the seed and its surroundings. Water reaches the embryo through all of the layers of the seed, which then activates the development of the radicle; once this process begins, seeds need more oxygen than water, so giving your seeds too much water might in fact “drown” them. This is why we highly recommend not germinating your seeds in glasses of water, as the oxygen-water ratio is nowhere near optimal for germination.
By lowering oxygen levels as well as temperature storage levels you can increase the life-span of your seed for up to 20 years. Another storage technique is to dehydrate the seeds around 2-5%; no more is recommended as it might affect the internal constitution of the seed. Temperature is extremely important as it regulates the activity of the enzymes during germination; during storage, temperature regulates the embryos metabolism.
Oxygen is found in nature in a concentration of about 21%; seeds tend to germinate in conditions with around 20-21% oxygen, and hardly any seeds can germinate with a lower concentration than that; the only plants that can really do that are marine plants and algae, which need 8% oxygen.
Now that you know how cannabis seeds work, you can store your babies for up to 20 years if you want to, and give them the perfect conditions in which to open up their shells and let the radicle take over growing the roots. Happy growing!
Marijuana’s History: How One Plant Spread Through the World
From the sites where prehistoric hunters and gatherers lived, to ancient China and Viking ships, cannabis has been used across the world for ages, and a new report presents the drug’s colorful history.
In the report, author Barney Warf describes how cannabis use originated thousands of years ago in Asia, and has since found its way to many regions of the world, eventually spreading to the Americas and the United States.
“For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes,” during pre-modern times, said Warf, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. For example, the Vikings and medieval Germans used cannabis for relieving pain during childbirth and for toothaches, he said.
“The idea that this is an evil drug is a very recent construction,” and the fact that it is illegal is a “historical anomaly,” Warf said. Marijuana has been legal in many regions of the world for most of its history.
Where did pot come from?
It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
A second psychoactive species of the plant, Cannabis indica, was identified by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and a third, uncommon one, Cannabis ruderalis, was named in 1924 by Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky.
Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved on the steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia, according to Warf. The history of cannabis use goes back as far as 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops, according to information in the book “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years” (Springer, 1980).
“It likely flourished in the nutrient-rich dump sites of prehistoric hunters and gatherers,” Warf wrote in his study.
Burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of mummified psychoactive marijuana.
Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were used widely in ancient China, Warf wrote. The first record of the drug’s medicinal use dates to 4000 B.C. The herb was used, for instance, as an anesthetic during surgery, and stories say it was even used by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 B.C. (However, whether Shen Nung was a real or a mythical figure has been debated, as the first emperor of a unified China was born much later than the supposed Shen Nung.)
From China, coastal farmers brought pot to Korea about 2000 B.C. or earlier, according to the book “The Archeology of Korea” (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Cannabis came to the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C., when the region was invaded by the Aryans — a group that spoke an archaic Indo-European language. The drug became widely used in India, where it was celebrated as one of “five kingdoms of herbs . which release us from anxiety” in one of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems whose name translate into “Science of Charms.”
From Asia to Europe
Cannabis came to the Middle East between 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C., and it was probably used there by the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group. The Scythians also likely carried the drug into southeast Russia and Ukraine, as they occupied both territories for years, according to Warf’s report. Germanic tribes brought the drug into Germany, and marijuana went from there to Britain during the 5th century with the Anglo-Saxon invasions. [See map of marijuana’s spread throughout the world.]
This map shows how marijuana spread throughout the world, from its origins on the steppes of Central Asia. (Image credit: Barney Warf, University of Kansas )
“Cannabis seeds have also been found in the remains of Viking ships dating to the mid-ninth century,” Warf wrote in the study.
Over the next centuries, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa, reaching South America in the 19th century and being carried north afterwards, eventually reaching North America.
How did marijuana get to the United States?
After this really long “trip” throughout the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.
“Many early prejudices against marijuana were thinly veiled racist fears of its smokers, often promulgated by reactionary newspapers,” Warf wrote in his report. “Mexicans were frequently blamed for smoking marijuana, property crimes, seducing children and engaging in murderous sprees.”
Americans laws never recognized the difference between Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis sativa. The plant was first outlawed in Utah in 1915, and by 1931 it was illegal in 29 states, according to the report.
In 1930, Harry Aslinger became the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and undertook multiple efforts to make marijuana illegal in all states. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act put cannabis under the regulation of the Drug Enforcement Agency, criminalizing possession of the plant throughout the country.
“Today, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD, indicating it has high potential for abuse and addiction, no accepted medical uses and no safe level of use,” Warf wrote.