Cannabis is an often misunderstood plant, in more than one way.  A commonly misunderstood aspect of cannabis is its preferred growing environment.  Cannabis evolved originally as a desert plant, also referred to as a xeric plant.  Xeric plants such as cannabis have developed survival mechanisms for environments with less than 10 inches of rainfall per year- the definition of a desert environment.  Now, desert doesn’t always mean sand and cactus.  In the case of cannabis, the arid mountains of Central Asia provided the desert conditions that resulted in some of the well-known botanical features of the cannabis plant.  These features are also common to other xeric or desert plants like cannabis.

     One adaptation to an arid climate is the well-known trichome.  This is a feature that other desert plants also share and is an important adaptation to preventing rapid loss of water from the plant, an important survival mechanism in the desert.  Trichomes help the plant conserve water by slowing the rate by which the plant loses water to its exterior through openings in the leaves.  Trichomes accomplish this by stabilizing the air around the plant.  Around every plant there exists a layer of air that is more humid and of a slightly higher temperature than the rest of the environment.  This layer that surrounds the plant is called the “boundary layer”.  The boundary layer is formed by the loss of water from the plant through openings in the leaves called “stomata”.  When the boundary layer is in place, it helps to slow down the loss of water from the plant by forming this area of warmer and more humid air around the stomata.  The trichomes function to stabilize this boundary layer by forming a protective barrier around the stomata openings.  In this way the trichomes prevent the dry, desert air from sweeping directly across the surface of the leaves, preventing the boundary layer from being disrupted, thereby slowing the loss of water from the plant interior.     

        THC is also thought to be, in part, an adaptation to the desert environment, providing the plant with protection from UV light.  Having a basic understanding of the evolutionary development of cannabis can aid you in making the right decisions as a patient cultivator to optimize the cannabis you produce.  Understanding that cannabis is a desert plant is a good clue to know that over-watering and maintaining high humidity are two quick ways to lower trichome production.  If the cannabis plant doesn’t need to conserve water, it doesn’t need to produce as many trichomes to stabilize its boundary layer.  The use of foliar sprays should be restricted to when it is absolutely necessary.  Finally, a close eye on light intensity will help ensure that your desert cannabis will have everything it needs.

Keep it Pure!

The Pure Analytics Team


3 Responses to Cannabis- The Often Misunderstood Desert Plant

  1. mjjohn says:

    I have a question, I am a licensed medical marijuana patient, I grow my own cannabis aeroponic. this provides constant nutrients to the roots, never a dry moment. I would have to say that the trichrome production on my plants is very high, I grew some berkel that looks like it was dipped in them. and arent sativas equatorial?

  2. k says:

    Im a medical marijuana patient and have been growing indoors and out for a few years. I have had great success but also failures too. After reading this article, i think most of my issues have been directly due to too much humidity. I try not to over water but our fog here is consistant every am.

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