The marijuana plant is often divided into three species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. It has been cultivated by mankind for at least 12,000 years, although if we go by what was found in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia, we may have been growing the herb for 30,000 years!
If you use the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), there is a specific system of classification that goes something like this:
When we use this system, we see that marijuana is of the Genus Cannabis L. and is part of the Cannabaceae Family. If we go further, we discover that the cannabis plant is part of the Rosales Order, Magnoliopsida Class, Tracheophyta Phylum and Plantae Kingdom.
Therefore, fruits such as apples, strawberries, plums, figs, almonds, and many more, are all distant relatives of weed. To make matters simpler, we’ll focus on relatives within the Cannabaceae Family, which is comprised of 11 genera. These genera consist of several hundred subspecies.
It seems incredible that a plant with links to so many others in nature is prohibited in most countries around the world, but that’s how it is right now. In this article, we will look at 5 legal plants related to weed. You might guess the first one but not the rest.
1 – Hemp
This is the plant we would expect most people to guess was a relative of marijuana. It is also a subspecies of the L. genus and is known for his high CBD content. The Farm Bill of 2018 made it federally legal to grow industrial hemp which is fabulous news for cannabidiol sellers. To stay within the law, hemp grown in the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC.
The terms hemp and marijuana have been used interchangeably so often that a lot of people think they are the same. However, while marijuana can be part of the Indica, Sativa or Ruderalis Species, hemp is strictly part of the Cannabis Sativa species. Technically speaking, pure Sativa is hemp with minimal THC.
Those with no knowledge of hemp and marijuana may believe they look similar, but there are several differences. Hemp has skinny leaves mainly near the top whereas marijuana has broad leaves, dense buds, and is ‘bushier’ looking.
The hemp plant also has thicker fibers in its stalk which is processed into different resources such as food, fuel, and paper. Hemp is also excellent at sucking up carbon dioxide from the air and is great for soil quality because it also hoovers up toxins from the ground.
2 – Hackberry
This deciduous tree is also part of the Cannabaceae family, albeit as part of the Celtis Genus. Even though it is a member of the same family, the Hackberry tree is significantly different from the marijuana plant. It is known for having extremely flexible wood which can be used to create furniture.
Known as C. occidentalis, the hackberry tree is the biggest species in the Cannabaceae family as it can reach a height of 100 feet! Although it is native to North America, you can also find this tree in eastern European nations such as Serbia and Slovakia. It produces berries high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates which can be eaten by humans.
3 – Hops
Known as Humulus lupulus, the hop plant is another relative of marijuana. The hop plant is beloved the world over as it is used to make beer. However, aside from making alcoholic beverages that damage your health, the hop plant has many medical uses including an ability to tackle anxiety, digestive problems, and inflammation.
Hops contain alpha acids such as humulene, which is a terpenoid. As you may know, marijuana is laden with terpenes such as beta-humulene and alpha-pinene, both of which are found in the hop plant! Physically, hops and marijuana have similarities, but weed is a botanical herb whereas the hop plant is a bine, which means it is a climbing plant.
Marijuana-infused beer has just hit the market although a lot of people still try to create weed beer at home. As much fun as this sounds, there is a danger of contamination if you go through the process incorrectly. As well as drying your bud, it is important NOT to add it to the boil until it is soaked in water to remove harmful water-soluble tars. As THC is alcohol soluble, you need a strong beer of at least 8% ABV to benefit from maximum extraction.
4 – Blue Sandalwood
This tree, which grows in China, belongs to the Pteroceltis Genus but is yet another cousin of marijuana. In China, the tree is known as Qing Tan, and it is used for timber and paper, while oil extracted from the seeds is used in traditional medicine practices, and can be used to treat a cold or the flu.
5 – Trema Orientalis
Trema is a genus of numerous evergreen tree species and Trema orientalis, also known as the Indian charcoal tree, is also in the Cannabaceae family. This small tree grows in Asia and South Africa and produces black fruits which are safe to eat. Another fun fact about this tree is that its leaves are also edible. Trema Orientalis has one thing in common with hemp: It is used to treat poor quality soils.
Going through the various Genera, Families, and Orders associated with marijuana makes you realize how special this plant truly is. Along with the five mentioned above, marijuana is part of the Cannabaceae Family; as is Gironniera, Lozanella, and Aphananthe which were not mentioned in this article.
If you go a step further down the ITIS classification system, we can tell you that the Cannabaceae family is part of the Urticales Order. Things get VERY complicated at this stage because the Urticales order includes the elm, mulberry, and nettle plants. Therefore, marijuana is also related to them, although it is a more distant relationship than with the plants in its own family.