If you’ve ever visited an adult-use Massachusetts dispensary and felt overwhelmed by the choices of strain names, you are not alone. Trusted cannabis industry news source MJBiz Daily reports that many consumers in various states find strain names confusing.

With thousands of strain names and a huge selection of products to choose from, it’s common for canna-curious consumers to feel overloaded with choices. In this article, Gage Cannabis Co. reduces the confusion by explaining the basics of cannabis breeding and providing examples of the most common strain lineages.

Weed Strain Names Basics: Male and Female Plants

Male cannabis plants pollinate female plants and the females produce buds. The cultivation process is more-depth, but understanding the basics of cannabis genetics starts with male and female plants.

A crop can be over-pollinated if male plants aren’t identified early in the life cycle of cannabis plants. As such, cultivators and breeders remove the males from the females as early as possible in their growth cycle.

As one crop of females grows and is harvested, the next crop can be planted. This is when the selection of phenotypes comes in. More on this important term later.

Next, we will learn about cannabis breeding. Before moving on to the next section, you may want to read up on Indica Strains vs Sativa Strains so you can recognize the difference.

The Essentials of Cannabis Breeding

Combining male and female plants to produce hybrid strains with the best traits of both parent plants is essential for cannabis breeding. Some of these traits include higher potency, higher harvest yields, and resistance to mold and pests, as well as the ability to grow in unfavorable climates.

The ultimate goal of many cultivators is to utilize the above traits to develop stronger plant genetics to help stabilize the health of their strains. The healthier the genetics of their strains, the better the chances that their seeds will produce repeatable harvests with plants featuring consistent traits.

In a perfect world, strain names tell an important story about the cannabis you’re consuming. The story includes the strain’s possible effects, its city, and country of origin, and often includes information about the original breeders. Sometimes, breeders give hilarious and head-scratching names to their strains.

What’s In a Strain Name? About Phenotypes

Strain names can be confusing because most cannabis plants go through countless generations of cross-breeding. Many combinations of the various traits in parent plants eventually result in their ‘children’, which we also call phenotypes.

Commercial processing facilities with large-scale outputs may choose phenotypes that can produce faster and larger harvests. Craft breeders and home growers, on the other hand, tend to favor phenotypes they like best, and build customer bases around those who share those preferences.

Educated consumers want to know they’re buying legitimately sourced products and not just being sold a popular strain name. Obtaining your cannabis products from reputable adult-use dispensaries like Gage can increase your chances of knowing what you’re consuming.

Quality dispensaries work closely with their distributors and cultivation facilities to confirm that your 8th of Blue Dream or your Wedding Cake concentrate is what the label says it is.

Lineages of The Most Common Strain Names

Now that we have a working knowledge of cannabis breeding, we can get to the fun part: exploring the names of well-known marijuana strains. Below is a list of examples of some of the most popular hybrid strains and their lineages:


Few words are as synonymous with weed strains as Kush. Kush strains have their origins in Afghanistan, where the original kush grew as landrace strains. These strains have not been cross-bred with other strains, meaning their organic makeup is much less diluted.

Landrace strains were often given names that resemble their country of origin upon discovery. This is the case with Kush strains, which include OG Kush, Afghan Kush, Bubba Kush, and Banana Kush.

Cookies Strain

If you like dessert strains like Wedding Cake, there’s a good chance that it has a lineage of the Cookies Strain. The Bay Area-based Cookies Fam Genetics is best known for originating the popular strain Girl Scout Cookies, which continues to show up in dozens of new phenotypes.

Because their strains have become so popular, Cookies Fam certifies that individual harvests are legitimate Cookies strains. Examples of cookies strains include Cookies and Chem, Thin Mints, Gelato, and Key Lime Pie.

Haze Strain

Legend has it that haze strains were the first plants to grow in the infamous Humboldt County, California. This area is one of the largest producers of cannabis in the world. Rumor has it that the first growers of this variety were named the Haze Brothers.

Haze strains also include OG Haze, Super Lemon Haze, and Chocolate Haze.

Cheese Strains

Cheese strains have their origins in the U.K. Seeds from crops of the hugely popular “Skunk #1” variety were brought to Britain circa the mid-1980s. Skunk plants were too pungent for English growers with limited space.

To help control the overwhelming Skunk smell, breeders created a less smelly phenotype that produces a larger yield by crossing Super Skunk, Haze, and other unknown U.K. strains.

Thus, the “Cheese” stands alone to this day. The world-famous Sour Diesel has a similar lineage to Cheese strains, both coming from a Super Skunk batch at some point in their history. Other Cheese strain varieties include Cheesecake, Cheetos, Royale With Cheese, and Mendo Cheese.

Strain Names: Gage Cannabis Company Has It All

Strain names are certainly not an exact science. Even the savviest of Massachusetts cannabis consumers will attest to that. But now that you understand the basics of cannabis breeding and lineages, you have opened a new door of knowledge to enhance your strain experience.

Whether you’re a fan of the pungent and strong Haze and Sour Diesel strains, or you like a bit of dessert flavor from Cookies Strains, Gage Cannabis company has what you’re looking for.

As always, our friendly, helpful, knowledgeable bud tenders and staff are well-versed in all strain names and ready to help. Stop into the store, or place an online pre-order and avoid waiting in line. We can’t wait to see you!

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